Consequences of Play Exhibtion

The General, The Scientist & The Banker: The Birth of Archaeology and the Battle for the Past


In 1859 two extraordinary events changed the way people considered human existence: a flint handaxe was found in a gravel quarry level with bones of extinct animals, and Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s big idea and the discovery of the axe broke the Biblical version of history.

Opening with the book and the rarely seen axe, this exhibition tells the story of what happened next, as archaeological pioneers battled to save Britain’s great prehistoric sites from destruction.

Rare objects, drawings and manuscripts will bring to life a tale of Victorian prejudice and vision as well as illustrate the achievements of three men: scientist Charles Darwin, archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers and finally, banker and politician John Lubbock. Together they revealed how the landscape is rich with ancient history, as they fought to bring recognition and legal protection for Britain’s ancient monuments.

The Devil's Den, Wiltshire
The Devil's Den, Wiltshire
'step into englands story