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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Crawford, Osbert Guy Stanhope (OGS)

28 October 1886 – 28 November 1957

Oswald Guy Stanhope Crawford, often known as Ogs, was a towering figure in archaeology in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also an author, editor, photographer, Marxist social critic and a cat mimic.

At school at Marlborough College, he first became interested in archaeology. After Keble College Oxford, he spent four years on archaeology in the Sudan and Britain and came under the influence of J P Williams-Freeman. In the first World War, after serving as a photographer he became an observer/photographer in the Royal Flying Corps. He was shot down and spent time as a German Prisoner of War (which he compared favourably to Marlborough).

After a short period of archaeological digs, and completing and publishing his first book, Man and his Past, he was invited to join the Ordnance Survey as its first Archaeological Officer. As well as revising the OS maps with archaeological information he carried out field work (often by bicycle) to add to the information provided by local archaeology and antiquarian societies. He also drew on photographs taken by the RAF and enthusiastic fliers, and created the period maps, such as that of Roman Britain.

Alexander Keiller, of the marmalade family, flew Crawford in an aerial survey of archaeological sites and traces in Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire in 1924. The results of this were published in Wessex from the Air in 1928. With Keiller he also worked to raise funds to buy Stonehenge for the nation. In 1927 he founded Antiquity: A Quarterly Review of Archaeology, which became the most influential archaeological journal.

From then onwards he became an outspoken participant in the many debates in the archaeological world. His political views became increasingly Marxist, and a visit to the Soviet Union in 1932 didn’t seem to dent them. His politics didn’t stop him trying to persuade both Mussolini and the German government to map their archaeological heritage. An enthusiastic recorder of buildings, during the Second World War he was commissioned to record the bomb damage in Southampton.

In 1946 he resigned from the OS and was a founding member of Friends of Old Southampton, trying to preserve the historic architecture that had survived the Blitz. An active member of the Hampshire Field Club he held a number of offices including President, contributed freely to Proceedings and is remembered by an annual lecture. Despite a sometimes difficult personality, he was regarded with respect and often affection. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, appointed CBE and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Cambridge and Southampton Universities

Sources

  • Crawford, OGS (1955), Said and Done: Autobiography of an Archaeologist, Weidenfeld and Nicholson

  • Hauser, Kitty (2008) Bloody Old Britain: OGS Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life, Granta  

Portrait

OGS Crawford

Keble College

Contribution to county’s history

While just his contribution to Hampshire would make him exceptional, it is his contribution to archaeology generally that makes him outstanding.

Relevant published works

  • Crawford and Keiler, Wessex from the Air, 1928 is a transformative volume

  • His vast output is far too long to list them all, but below are those published in Proceedings:

Critical Comments

Other Comments

The OGS Crawford Archive is held at the University of Oxford.

Contributor

Dick Selwood March 2024

Keywords

Alton, Geology, Alice Holt, Selborne, Curtis Museum

Any queries or further suggestions for this part of the list should be addressed to celebrating@hantsfieldclub.org.uk.

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