Scottish antiquary who specialized in the prehistory of northwest Europe. Born the 5th Baron of Aboukir and Tullibody, he served in the army from 1858 to 1870 before devoting himself to scholarship and especially phil- ology, archaeology, and folklore. He travelled widely and mastered several European languages, including Finnish. In 1904 he introduced the term Beaker pottery into the archaeological literature to refer to the late Neolithic decorated drinking vessels often associated with burials of the period. The term has remained in use ever since, although Abercromby's original subdivision into three types—A, B, and C—has since been modified. In 1912 he published in two volumes A study of Bronze Age pottery in Great Britain and Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon Press). Throughout his later life he had a turbulent relationship with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, but was their President from 1913 to 1918. In his will he founded and endowed the Abercromby Chair of Archaeology in the University of Edinburgh, the first three incumbents being Gordon Childe, Stuart Piggott, and Dennis Harding.
From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.