OGS Crawford Archive

About the Archive

Archaeologist O.G.S Crawford (1886-1957) is best known for his championing of the application of aerial photography to archaeology, founding the journal Antiquity, and putting archaeology on the map (quite literally) as the first Archaeology Officer of the Ordnance Survey. Crawford also played a pioneering role during the interwar years in professionalising the discipline of archaeology and championing the study of British prehistory. Crawford was a prolific photographer, taking over 10,000 photographs during his life, mostly between 1931 and 1957. Today these photographs are held by the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford. 

Crawford’s photographs span an almost bewildering range of themes; from black and white photographs of rainbows and cloud formations, studies of archaeological sites like Stonehenge, a series documenting so-called “Marx-Sites” (locations related to the life of Karl Marx), survey work of castles and churches in Sudan and even several boxes of photographs of cats and other animals. These terrestrial photographs are the subject of a new project, combining digitization and archival research to explore these otherwise overlooked photographs. 

About the Project

The OGS Crawford Archive project began in October 2017, with the aim of digitalising and making available online as many of Crawford’s photographs as possible. As the archive is so extensive the project has selected examples of Crawford’s photography that are less well-known. The project begins with the premise that photographs are social objects, and that clues about the history of the archive, the photographs and Crawford own life can often be found by considering the photographs as material objects in their own right. Crawford mounted each of his photographs on card, and often annotated these mounts with details like the time and date each photograph was taken, and his thoughts on the subject matter. Sometimes he also added notes to the back of each print. 

To preserve this information, when scanning the photographs we have tried to include as many of these details as possible. Each photograph is scanned three times, once as a mounted print, then the print removed from the mount, and finally we scan the reverse of the print. The scans also aim to reflect the material condition of each print, bent or folded corners are often visible, along with rips in the mounts, or damage to the photographs themselves. 

The project is part of the AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership project “Visual Archaeology: The Photographic Character of the Archaeology of O.G.S. Crawford” and reflects PhD research by Beth Hodgett. You can read more about the project here: https://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/people/beth-hodgett

For updates on Crawford and the archive you can follow Beth on Twitter @Wcoloursburntin

How to Search the Archive

There are several ways to search the archive:

  1. Each print is labelled with a box number and a print number e.g. 2.22. If you know the print number of a particular photograph, you can type this into the search bar on the main site. 
  2. If you are looking for photographs along specific themes i.e. “Castles” or “Churches” you can enter these search terms and you will see results from across all the boxes of archive material that are currently scanned. 
  3. Alternatively, you can click on the links below to see how Crawford’s photographs are assembled inside each box of the archive. [Hyperlinks for Predefined searches for Boxes 1, 2, 3, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 23, 35, 39 & 49].

A note on print numbers: 

Every scan is labelled in one of the following ways: “OGS_1_100.tif”, “OGS_1_100_AF.tif” or “OGS_1_100_AR.tif”. The first number in the image title represents the number of the box the image can be found in. The second number refers to the location of the print in each box so “OGS_1_100.tif” would be the 100th print in Box 1 at the time the prints were labelled. The designations “AF” and “AR” refer to scans of the front (AF) of a print without the mount, and scans of the reverse (AR) of the print, which often feature additional annotations by Crawford. 

Contact and Copyright

The O.G.S. Crawford Archive Project aims to make sections of the O.G.S. Crawford photographic archive available online for personal research. The scale and scope of the collection means that at present it is not possible to digitize the entire collection, however individual requests can be made and should be directed to Beth Hodgett or Ian Cartwright. 

Users must contact the Institute before using the photographs for anything other than personal research. General enquiries, or those about reproductions and copyright should be submitted to beth.hodgett@prm.ox.ac.uk or to Ian.Cartwright@arch.ox.ac.uk

If possible when contacting us please specify the both the box number and sheet number for the required image (i.e. 2.22).

Content Warning

Users are asked to bear in mind that this is a working database that is constantly being updated. It is important to see how people, objects and landmarks were perceived in the past, therefore we preserve all the information recorded on the photographs. Some of the historic wording is outdated and even offensive. However, this is in no way an endorsement of these views. Please be aware that the database may include records for objects or sites that are considered secret or sacred by some communities, or contain images of human remains. Photographs may also feature images some viewers may find distressing. 

The Institute is always pleased to receive further information and feedback about the photographs in its collections and corrections to the database entries. These should be emailed to beth.hodgett@prm.ox.ac.uk

Additional Resources

O.G.S. Crawford’s written papers are currently held by the Bodleian Library. You can arrange an appointment to view this material by emailing: specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

More information on Crawford’s life can be found in Bloody Old Britain, the biography written by Kitty Hauser in 2008. Crawford also wrote his own autobiography Said and Done (1955). The following is a list of research published on Crawford along with memoirs written by some of his colleagues:

Barber, M., 2016. Capturing the Material Invisible: OGS Crawford, Ghosts, and the Stonehenge Avenue. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 26(1). [Online].

Bowden, M., 2001. Mapping the Past: O. G. S. Crawford and the Development of Landscape Studies. Landscapes, 2(2), pp.29-45.

Hauser, K., 2007. Shadow Sites: Photography, Archaeology, and the British Landscape, 1927-1955, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hodgett, B., 2019. ‘Rear Elevation’ and Other Stories: Re-excavating Presence in O.G.S. Crawford’s Photographs of the 1939 Sutton Hoo Excavation. Antiquity, 93(370). [Online]

MacGregor, A., 2000. An Aerial Relic of O.G.S. Crawford. Antiquity, 74(283), pp.87-100.

Piggott, S., 1976. O.G.S. Crawford. Antiquity, 50(199), pp.185-186

Stout, A., 2008. Creating Prehistory: Druids, Ley Hunters and Archaeologists in Pre-War Britain, Oxford: Blackwell. 

Van Tilburg, J.A., 2002. O.G.S. Crawford and the Mana Expedition to Easter Island (Rapa Nui), 1913-1915. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 111(1), pp.65–77.

Wickstead, H., 2017. “Wild Worship of a Lost and Buried Past”: Enchanted Archaeologies and the Cult of Kata, 1908–1924. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 27(1).

Wheeler, M., 1958. Crawford and Antiquity. Antiquity, 32(125), pp.3-4.

Back issues of Antiquity can be found online: https://www.antiquity.ac.uk/issues