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Bryan Faussett: Antiquary Extraordinary
Author: David Wright. xii+324 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. 144 2015 Archaeological Lives . Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784910846. Epublication ISBN 9781784910853.
Book contents page
A biography of Bryan Faussett, F.S.A., (1720-1776), pioneering Kent genealogist, archaeologist and antiquary who, at his death, had amassed the world’s greatest collection of Anglo-Saxon jewellery and antiquities. The material was famously rejected by the British Museum, saved for the nation by a Liverpudlian philanthropist, and now resides in the Liverpool World Museum. This episode led directly to the British Museum’s setting up departments devoted to British Antiquities.

This volume is the first to focus on Faussett, presenting comprehensive genealogical sections on the Faussetts and Godfreys; a history of the family seat near Canterbury; and an introduction to antiquarianism and how the history of the world was imperfectly viewed in the 18th century. A detailed biography of Bryan Faussett’s life covers his education, career and scholarly circle, with detailed descriptions of the sites he excavated. Surviving archaeological notebooks offer insights into his working practice, and family account-books reveal a great deal about his personal life and interests.

Bryan Faussett was a quintessentially Georgian cleric and antiquary whose extraordinary archaeological career and collections are modestly well known within the county, but deserve far greater national recognition. It is hoped that this biography may further that aim.

About the Author:
David Wright has known the county of Kent all his life. He studied classics, palaeography and Anglo-Saxon at University College, London, before being invited to become one of its teaching fellows, when he soon gained further loves of history, both ancient and mediaeval. Whilst practising as a professional genealogist for nearly four decades, he has taught, lectured and written about Kent’s historical sources, and also produced several indexes to the county’s very rich probate records.

Reviews:

"This book is based on thorough research using a variety of sources including Faussett’s personal correspondence and household records, and is fascinating for providing detailed context for this period of the history of archaeology." - Sam Lucy (British Archaeology - March / April Issue 2016)

"Readers with an interest in Kentish archaeology or the development of archaeological studies of Anglo-Saxon England will find much to interest them here, not least in the fascinating detail that Wright provides on the practicalities of digging in the eighteenth century. The chief value of this book, however, is Wright’s reconstruction of Faussett’s character and the world in which he lived." - Rosemary Sweet (British Association of Local History, 2015)

"This book covers a broad range of topics that may appeal to a variety of people. For those interested in family or local history there are chapters on the Faussett family, as well as their house and estates. For medieval historians there is an examination of how Faussett's finds illuminate our understanding of Anglo-Saxon death and burial. However, for me, this book comes to life in the chapters on Faussett's life as an antiquarian. Extensive use is made of Faussett's own notes providing detail of his working practices and ideas in his own words. These insights into the everyday issues on an eighteenth century dig, before modern archaeological procedures had been developed highlight the difficulties these enthusiastic pioneers faced.." - Kathryn Bedford (Journal of Kent History, March 2016)



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