Henry Bury Collection in Guildford Museum 2009


The Lithics Working Group has reassessed a collection of palaeolithic artefacts assembled by Henry Bury, a member of the Surrey Archaeological Society during the early 20th century, as well as the Geological Society and the Hampshire Field Club in which he was active into his 90’s. He published extensively on geology and palaeolithic artefacts in academic journals.


Henry Bury lived in Farnham and his notes are preserved at Farnham Museum together with part of his extensive lithics collection. A large proportion of his collection came from the Farnham area. The Lithics Working Group have dealt only with those items deposited in Guildford Museum on long term loan from Ipswich Museum in 1962, which were subsequently permanently transferred in 2009. Unfortunately, Ipswich Museum possessed very little information about the collection which had been split at the time of the loan so that part of the collection is still on long term loan to Newport Museum. Other items from the Bury Collection are held in museums across England.

The collection received by Guildford in March 1962 was in two boxes containing “Percival Martin flint implements from Farnham”. About half of these had in fact been collected by Bury, and those collected by Martin seem to have been acquired from Bury during the early 20th century. Percival Martin has now been traced as a contemporary and fellow member of the Geologists Association, and Benjamin Harrison of Ightham and a notable Victorian collector of early implements records in his diary that he had several contacts with a “Mr Martin”. Peter Harp also notes, from Harrison’s diary, that a PAB Martin of Kent was collecting early implements in West Kent and East Surrey between 1894 -14. The Percival Martin implements held by Guildford were collected between 1895 and 1909.

Guildford Museum now holds a collection consisting of fifty-seven artefacts, which have been described using a simple form of John Wymer’s system of classification, on a spreadsheet available at the museum or from the Prehistoric Group. These palaeoliths at Guildford Museum appear to have escaped from being included in previous surveys of the British Palaeolithic, such as those by John Wymer and Derek Roe, although those specific items previously published by Bury have, naturally, been noted by later researchers. Although the collection is predominantly bifaces, including a ficron, there are other implements such as two cleavers and fourteen scrapers. A number of the implements can be identified as ones which were previously published by Bury, and subsequently reprinted in the Society’s special volume of the Collections: A Survey of the Prehistory of the Farnham District (1934).  A representative sample has been photographed by Alan Hall and these photos are also available at the museum or from the Prehistoric Group (see contacts below).




This work would not have been possible without the contributions of our members: Jan Blatchford, Roger Ellaby, Judie English, , Stella Hill, Richard Jewell, Jenny Newell,Robin Tanner, Chris Taylor, Ken Waters and Keith Winser. Although space is limited we welcome enquiries from anyone who might wish to participate as the opportunity arises.

Peter Harp and Rose Hooker (revised November 2017

Contact Rose Hooker on: rosemary.hooker@blueyonder.co.uk(link sends e-mail)