Augustus Pitt Rivers, known as the “Father of British Archaeology,” was an English army commander and archaeologist. He was recognized with various improvements in archeological methods and had a key impact in the advancement of archaeology and ethnology. He also made significant improvements in the way archaeological and ethnological items were displayed. He was born into a rich Yorkshire family and opted to join the army as a young man. He enrolled in the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, but only lasted for a few months. He was commissioned as an ensign into the Grenadier Guards, which marked the start of a long and successful military career. During his military service, he developed an interest in ethnology and archaeology when stationed overseas. He was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin’s and Herbert Spencer’s evolutionary ideas, and he went on to establish the concept of typology, or the classification of objects in historical order. As fate would have it, he inherited enormous estates with several archaeological sites, and after retiring from the army, he began a series of excavations on the estates of prehistoric, Roman, and Saxon sites. He was a careful worker who is credited with being the first scientific archaeologist to work in the United Kingdom.
Childhood and Adolescence
Augustus Henry Lane-Fox was born in Yorkshire on 14 April 1827, the son of William Lane-Fox and Lady Caroline Douglas. George Douglas, 17th Earl of Morton, George Lane-Fox, and Sackville Lane-Fox, his uncles, were well-known figures. He came from a well-to-do family. The specifics of his early education are unknown, however it is assumed that he was schooled at home by private tutors and was taught courses such as Latin and Greek. He then enrolled in the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, but only stayed there for a year.
Career of Augustus Pitt Rivers
On May 16, 1845, Augustus Pitt Rivers was commissioned as an ensign in the Grenadier Guards. This was the start of what would turn out to be a 32-year military career. He bought the majority of his army ranks during the course of his career. During the Crimean War, he purchased a promotion to Captain and was advanced to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel of the army “for meritorious Service in the Field.”
In 1851, he was appointed to a commission that oversaw the testing of rifled firearms. In 1852, he was given the task of teaching the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards how to use the new Minié rifle, and he was dispatched to France, Belgium, and Piedmont (Italy) to investigate their musketry education techniques.
Lane-Fox was a key figure in the founding of the new School of Musketry at Hythe, Kent, in 1853, and served as its principal teacher, editing the school’s ‘Instruction of Musketry Manuel.’ He joined the Grenadier Guards as a lieutenant-colonel in 1857 and was promoted to colonel in 1867. In 1882, he retired from the service and was given the honorary title of Lieutenant General.
While stationed overseas in the 1850s, he developed an interest in archaeology and ethnology. He was elected to the Ethnological Society of London (1861), the Society of Antiquaries of London (1864), and the Anthropological Society of London (1865) as a notable scientist (1865).
Lane-Fox received a Cranborne Chase estate of more than 32000 acres from his cousin, Horace Pitt-Rivers, in 1880, and was forced to take the surname Pitt Rivers as part of the bequest. Even though he had acquired an interest in archeology while still serving in the army, this bequest allowed him to pursue his passion further because the estates were a treasure trove of Roman and Saxon archaeological artifacts.
He began a series of digs over the next several years, becoming known for his painstaking approach to the gathering and exhibition of archaeological evidence. He insisted on collecting and cataloging all antiquities, not simply the most beautiful or distinctive ones. He is recognized as being the first scientific archaeologist to work in Britain due to his meticulous approach to excavations and archaeology.
Following the passage of Sir John Lubbock’s 1882 Ancient Monuments Act, Pitt Rivers became Britain’s first Inspector of Ancient Monuments. He was given the task of cataloging archaeological sites and ensuring that they were not destroyed. His work was limited by the limits of the law, despite his dedication to his vocation.
In 1884, he was appointed High Sheriff of Dorset.
Personal History and Legacy
Pitt Rivers married Alice Stanley, the daughter of politician Edward Stanley and women’s education activist Henrietta Stanley, in February 1853. Although Alice’s parents were first opposed to the relationship, they soon changed their minds. The couple had nine children who lived to maturity, and Pitt Rivers died in 1900 after a 47-year marriage.
Pitt Rivers died in Rushmore Estate, Wiltshire, on May 4, 1900, at the age of 73. Even when cremation was outlawed in England, he had always been a proponent of the practice. In accordance with his desires, his corpse was cremated following his death.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth is not available.