At the Royal Academy

Rosemary Hill

The world in which the Society of Antiquaries came into existence in 1707 had been created in 4004 BC, on 22 October, which was a Saturday. So at least Archbishop Ussher had calculated, using the Biblical sources which were the only ones available to him, or anyone else. Antiquaries, those who study the physical remains of the past as well as the written records, had been around for several hundred years, but the foundation of the society, whose 300th anniversary is celebrated in Making History,[*] brought them closer to the mainstream of national life than ever before. Not that they exactly sought the limelight. Although their headquarters has been in Burlington House in Piccadilly since 1874, on the same site as the Royal Academy, this is the first time the two institutions have collaborated on any scale. Now they have combined to show off, in a modest way, the antiquaries’ accumulated treasures.

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[*] The exhibition continues until 2 December.