Christopher Woodward

Barrow Boys

Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain

By

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THERE’S A FASCINATION that is frantic / In a ruin that’s romantic’, went a Thirties song. There is something both fascinating and romantic in the lives of the lonely, eccentric scholars who during the eighteenth century created a taste for the remains of Britain’s past. In an age of turnpikes and steam, antiquaries explored abbeys which had become cowsheds, manuscripts which had been rolled up for centuries, and Roman roads which had deteriorated to faint tracks in the cornfields.

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