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Thomas Bateman

(1821—1861) archaeologist and antiquary


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(1821–61) [Bi]

British antiquarian well known for his exploits in excavating barrows in the Peak District of central England. Born in Rowsley, Derbyshire, Bateman began his antiquarian work at the age of 3 when he accompanied his father, William Bateman (1787–1835), on the excavation of a barrow. Both Thomas's parents died when he was young and he was brought up by his stern but wealthy grandfather. He began excavating barrows on his own account in 1843, working assiduously over a period of about a decade. It seems that Bateman was a colourful character and throughout his early life carried on an affair with a young married woman, Mary Mason, setting up house with her in 1844. Things came to a head with the death of his grandfather in 1847 and the prospect of being disinherited. Thomas saved himself by marrying his housekeeper, Sarah Parker, after which he reverted to a life of unblemished respectability. In 1848 he published the results of his excavations as Vestiges of the antiquities of Derbyshire (London: J. R. Smith). At this time he employed various excavators to work for him in order to speed the flow of antiquities to his blossoming museum. Two weeks before his death at the young age of 39 he published Ten years' diggings (1861, London: J. R. Smith). He was buried at Middleton-by-Youlgrave in an impressive tomb, still visible today, with a stone replica of a Bronze Age urn on top.

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Archaeology.


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