Collingwood’s Archaeological Fieldwork and the Methodology of History – Paul Bidwell (Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums)

Collingwood regarded archaeology as the ‘methodology of history’ and as a body of knowledge parallel to text-based ‘authorities’, but  he never published a Philosophy of Archaeology to match his essays on history, art and the natural sciences. The most extensive statement of his views on the subject appears in his Autobiography (1939), and much can also be learnt from his general accounts of Roman Britain. Equally useful in understanding his views on the nature and value of archaeology are his site reports and analyses of excavated material. The many summers that he spent excavating in northern England underlined his belief that theory was useless without demonstrations of its practical application. This paper will assess Collingwood’s approach to the planning and execution of his fieldwork, and how it reflects, and is reflected in, his wider body of thought.

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