Bloody Old Britain: O G S Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life by Kitty Hauser - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

No Ordinary Surveyor

Bloody Old Britain: O G S Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life


Granta Books 304pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

There is a type of person one reads about in the sociography of the interwar years, or sees depicted in the films of the period, who represents in an unobvious but profound way the national tragedy of that era. It is the former minor public schoolboy whose social position peaked shortly before he left the cloisters of academe and whose learning and talents were never subsequently put to the use that he believed, possibly quite rightly, they should have been. Life was destined to be a series of tribulations where he was bossed around by idiots and had to confront, with horrid frequency, the stupidity of his intellectual inferiors. It was enough to drive one mad. 

That is not to say that O G S Crawford, the subject of Kitty Hauser’s fascinating and inspired book, was mad: well, not completely. Crawford was not merely one of the pioneers of field archaeology – a discipline vital to the process of understanding history, but long viewed with contempt

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