Stuart Piggott

(1910—1996) archaeologist

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(1910–96) [Bi]

British prehistorian well known for his studies of the European Neolithic. Born in Petersfield, he was educated at Churcher's College and later at St John's College, Oxford. After five years with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, starting in 1929, he went on to become assistant director of excavations at Avebury, Wiltshire. During WW2 he served in the army and from 1942 to 1945 was in India where, in the company of Mortimer Wheeler, he greatly advanced archaeological research, later publishing a book on Prehistoric India (1950). Upon returning to England he went to St John's College, Oxford, to take a B. Litt.; his thesis was on the noted 18th-century antiquary William Stukeley. In 1946 he was appointed to the Abercromby Chair of Archaeology in the University of Edinburgh, where he stayed until his retirement in 1977. In 1953 he excavated at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, and in 1955 at the West Kennet long barrow, Wiltshire. His publications include The Neolithic cultures of the British Isles (1954) and Ancient Europe (1965). The latter remains a key textbook on the prehistory of Europe and illustrates very well Piggott's ability to synthesize large bodies of material into an informative narrative. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1953 and made a CBE in 1972. Piggott continued his academic studies after his retirement, from his home in West Challow, Oxfordshire. In this period he published important texts such as The first wheeled vehicles (1983) and Ancient Britons and the antiquarian imagination (1989). He was also productive outside archaeology, with a volume of poems, published as Fire amongst the ruins 1942–1945 (1947), and contributions to other works.

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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