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O. G. S. Crawford

From Academic Kids

Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford (28 October, 1886November 28, 1957) was an English archaeologist and a pioneer in the use of aerial photographs for deepening archaeological understanding of the landscape.

Born in Bombay the son of a civil servant, he was brought up in London and Hampshire by his maternal aunts due to the death of his mother in 1886 and his father in 1894. Crawford was educated at Marlborough College and then Keble College, Oxford where he began reading literae humaniores but changed to geography. Upon graduation in 1910 he worked as demonstrator in the Department of Geography at Oxford until 1911. In 1913 Crawford joined the Scoresby Routledge expedition to Easter Island but quarrelled with the principals and left before the expedition reached its destination. Instead he joined Henry Wellcome's excavations at Jebel Moya and Abu Gelli in the Sudan. On his return to England he excavated a long barrow on Wexcombe Down with E.A. Hooton.

During the First World War he served first in the London Scottish, then in the Survey Division of the Third Army, and from 1917 as an observer with the Royal Flying Corps. His aircraft was shot down in 1918 and he was held prisoner at Holzminden until the end of the war.

Following a series of short-term jobs, in 1920 he was appointed the first Archaeology Officer of the Ordnance Survey, a post he held until his retirement in 1946. In 1927 he founded Antiquity; A Quarterly Review of Archaeology.

During the Second World War he was responsible for saving much historical material in his garage in Nursling when the Ordnance Survey offices in Southampton were burnt out in an air-raid.

In 1951 he wrote: ""How much nonsense have not we of the present generation seen faded by our silence (...) Where now are (...) the Old Straight Trackers (...)." He did not live to see the revival Ley Lines from the late 1960s.

"Future archaeologists will perhaps excavate the ruined factories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the radiation effects of Atom bombs have died away" he wrote in his 1953 book, Archaeology in the Field.

Books by O. G. S. Crawford

  • The Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, 1925
  • Wessex from the Air, 1928
  • Topography of Roman Scotland North of the Antonine Wall, 1949
  • Archaeology in the Field, 1953
  • The Eye Goddess, 1957
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