1600s – 1700s

Daines Barrington, FRS (1727-1800)

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Paper by Daines Barrington from <i>Archaeologia</i> (1770)
Paper by Daines Barrington from Archaeologia (1770)

English lawyer, antiquary and naturalist; Welsh judge 1757. Although not a Welshman, he acquired considerable knowledge of its history and antiquities (particularly north Wales). His Observations on the Statutes, chiefly the more ancient, from Magna Charta to 21st James I (1766) had a high reputation among historians and constitutional antiquaries. Worked on Pillar of Eliseg and Welsh castles. Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 1768

Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Bart (1758-1838)

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Pencil and ink on paper, NMW A 13823

Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838), Pillar of Eliseg, Valle Crucis, 1799, pencil and ink on paper, NMW A 13823

Sir Richard Colt Hoare was a practical archaeologist well known for excavating 379 barrows on Salisbury Plain. While his best known work is Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire (1812-19), he also recorded many monuments in Wales and his journey through Wales was followed by his translation of Gerald of Wales’s Itinerarium Cambriae and Descriptio Cambriae (1804). Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 1792.

Samuel Rush Meyrick (1783-1848)

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Aquatint from Samuel Rush Meyrick and Charles Hamilton Smith

Aquatint from Samuel Rush Meyrick and Charles Hamilton Smith, The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the Islands of Britain

The antiquary Samuel Meyrick is best known for his work on arms and armour, but his first book was on the history and antiquities of Cardiganshire (1810), the home county of his wife. His great collection of arms and armour, on which he published widely, was displayed at Goodrich Court, on the Welsh border. Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 1810

Iolo Morganwg (about 1745-1826)

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Copy of the inscription on the Samson Cross, Llantwit Major, by Iolo Morganwg (1797)

Copy of the inscription on the Samson Cross, Llantwit Major, by Iolo Morganwg (1797) © Cardiff Central Library

The work of Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg, is conventionally derided because of his forgery of verse attributed to various Welsh medieval poets, aimed to demonstrate the importance of Wales and his native Glamorgan. He was, however, an antiquary with a deep interest in the Welsh past. His records regarding the Vale of Glamorgan cannot be ignored, such as his correspondence with Sir Richard Colt Hoare on the monuments at Llantwit Major.

Thomas Pennant (1726-1798)

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Thomas Pennant by Thomas Gainsborough, 1776 NMW A 97

Thomas Pennant by Thomas Gainsborough, 1776 NMW A 97

Thomas Pennant of Downing in Flintshire, a great naturalist and antiquary, was an acute observer of the past of his country, particularly the northern counties, as well as other parts of the British Isles. His widely read book Tours in Wales, published 1778–83, is particularly informative, illustrated as it is with engravings taken from drawings made by his artist Moses Griffith. Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 1754. Resigned 1760.

Henry Rowlands (1655-1723)

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An Archaeological Discourse on the Antiquities, Natural and Historical, of the Isle of Anglesey (Dublin, 1723)

An Archaeological Discourse on the Antiquities, Natural and Historical, of the Isle of Anglesey (Dublin, 1723)

The Welsh antiquary Henry Rowlands collaborated with Edward Lhuyd. He is best known for his publication Mona Antiqua Restaurata. An Archaeological Discourse on the Antiquities, Natural and Historical, of the Isle of Anglesey (Dublin, 1723). Though his fieldwork, which involved the study of standing stones on the island, was not as rigorous as that of Lhuyd, his writings have preserved the histories of many antiquities that would otherwise be unknown to us. His intention was to prove that Anglesey was the main home of the Druids.

John Strange (1732-1799)

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John Strange

During the 1800s, it was often antiquaries from England like John Strange who devoted time to investigating Roman presence in Wales. A British resident in Venice and son of a Whig MP, his abiding pursuit was natural history. While in Pisa between 1757 and 1764, he entered the circle of Tuscan antiquaries and men of science. After spending the summer of 1768 in south Wales, he wrote important papers on Roman and other antiquities in Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorgan (1770, 1777 and 1782).

Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 1766.