Becket casket

© 2003 Society of Antiquaries of London

Becket casket

Height: 15.500 cm
Width: 21.000 cm
Diameter: 9.500 cm

On loan from the Society of Antiquaries of London 110

Antiquaries investigated the past by collecting and studying ancient coins, pottery, metalwork and monuments. In interpreting these things, British antiquaries of the late-seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries generally relied on the accounts found in the works of Caesar, Livy and other Roman historians

During the eighteenth century, however, many scholars began to look in more detail at the artefacts themselves and at the places where they were found. Some antiquaries realized that newly discovered weapons and ornaments were from a native British culture established before the Roman conquest of the first century AD. These early Britons did not appear in ancient written accounts.

Encouraged by a growing sense of nationalism, antiquaries sought to learn about the first Britons. So they began to search for ancient graves and occupation sites in order to unearth new objects and evidence. They also shared their findings through local and national societies, notably the Society of Antiquaries.

On display: Enlightenment: Archaeology