HMJ Underhill Archive

Deborah Harlan, Megan Price, 2004 (updated 2013)

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Introduction

History of the originating project

Underhill Stonehenge

This project began in September 2001 with the re-discovery of an old archive in the Institute of Archaeology (Oxford University). The archive consists of a collection of hand-painted glass (lantern) slides that depicted the "Megalithic Monuments of Great Britain," dating to 1897-1905 and attributed to H.M.J. Underhill. The slides showed the stone circles at Stonehenge, Avebury, Stanton Drew and the Rollright Stones. Miscellaneous slides depicted other prehistoric monuments: Menhir at Dartmoor and the Sarsen Stones and Wayland's Smithy on the Oxfordshire Ridgeway. Since September 2001, more lantern slides in the Institute's collections have been attributed to Underhill on different subjects: Romano-British city remains (Bath, Colchester, Silchester and Wroxeter) and the vernacular architecture of windmills. The researchers, Megan Price and Deborah Harlan, used primary sources in the Bodleian Library Modern Manuscripts Collection and the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies to uncover much biographical information on Henry Michael John Underhill. Further Henry Underhill material exists outside the University of Oxford archive collections.

Preliminary research into the life and work of H.M.J. Underhill resulted in an article in The New Magic Lantern Journal 9:4(2003), pp. 51-53. Research is continuing on the contribution of amateur antiquarians to the developing discipline of archaeology in the late nineteenth century with attention to the use of lantern slides at public lectures and to local and national societies. A larger and more ambitious project is in progress by Deborah Harlan and Megan Price to publish the life and work of Henry Underhill an Oxford Antiquarian and Grocer.