Osbert Guy Stanhope Crawford was born in Bombay on 28th October 1886, part of a wealthy middle class Scottish family. He was moved to England as an infant, where he was raised by his aunts in London and in Hampshire. He studied Geography at Keble College, Oxford, and worked very briefly in that field before devoting himself to professional archaeology.
During the First World War, he served in both the London Scottish Regiment and the Royal Flying Corps, where he was involved in both ground and aerial reconnaissance along the Western Front. He was shot down in 1918 and remained a prisoner at Holzminden until the end of the war. It was during his time as an observer in the R.F.C. that Crawford realised that archaeological features could be seen as cropmarks and earthworks on aerial photographs, and he is now regarded by many as the father of aerial archaeology. After the War, he was made first Archaeological Officer of the Ordnance Survey, a post he held until his retirement in 1948. In that role, he was responsible for producing the first OS “period maps”, notably on Roman Britain, first published in 1924 and now in its 6th edition. When not in the air, his job took him all over the country, and he was famous for conducting much of his fieldwork on his bicycle.
He founded the archaeological journal Antiquity, still going 90 years later, as a competitor to the Antiquaries Journal published by the Society of Antiquaries of whom he was highly criticial, believing they did little to promote serious research. His contribution to British archaeology has been widely acclaimed, and his achievements are far too many to mention, determining the length of the avenue at Stonehenge (where he is pictured above) being just one.
O.G.S. Crawford (1886 -
‘Field archaeology is an essentially English form of sport.’