Introduction to the Archaeology Collection

bronze age food vessel from ScotlandThe prehistoric archaeological collection mainly comprises the collection donated by A Henderson Bishop. A member of a well ­known Glasgow family who combined participation in the family business with a keen interest in amateur archaeology and collecting, he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1909. In his time, he had one of the largest pre­historic collections in Scotland. In 1951, the year the University of Glasgow celebrated its quincentenery, Bishop gifted his collection of pre­historic artefacts from Great Britain and the Continent to the Hunterian Museum. There are over 22,000 objects in this collection and internationally important objects include a rare intact metal vessel of the Late Bronze Age, carved stone balls and prehistoric gold.‎

Notable sub­collections include Cursiter (Orkney & Shetland), Dennison (Sanday, Orkney) and Day (Ireland). There are objects from at least another six named collections contained within the Bishop Collection. There are important Paleolithic assemblages from Knowle’s Farm, Savernake, Wiltshire (unpublished), and various locations in France as well as the Robenhausen lake village assemblage from Switzerland, one of the most important Neolithic sites in Europe.

The archaeology collection also includes the finest body of Roman material in the west of Scotland including altars, gravestones and artefacts from forts on the Antonine Wall. The Legionary stones – 'distance slabs' record the length of wall completed by the various legions. Of the nineteen known, seventeen are in The Hunterian. This body of material is unique and nothing similar has been found on any other frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Finally, there are smaller assemblages from excavations at brochs and other settlements of the Scottish Iron Age. Some superb bodies of material illustrate the early civilisations of Egypt and the Mediterranean world, with assemblages from Garstang and Kenyon's excavations at Jericho among others.