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Wilson's Scottish Archaeology
From Tait's Edinburgh Magazine (1851)


Antiquanarium and archaeology mean the same thing, but an antiquarian and an archaeologist should not be confounded together as meaning two men of similar pursuits. The difference between them lies in this, that the antiquarian, as hitherto popularly understood in this country, took up a segment of the circle, whilst the archaeologist takes up the whole circumference of the circle. The antiquarian regarded relics as of importance when invested with personal associations; the archaeologist prizes relics when belonging to a remote and unknown period. Thus the antiquarian would hold in highest veneration the sword that beheaded Mary Queen of Scots, and his visitors would probably do the same; whilst a flint axe found in Lochar Moss might lie on a shelf unheeded both by him or his friends. But this flint, although it might only have been the instrument in the hands of a petty chief for decapitating a miserable serf, would be invested with great importance in the estimation of the archaeologist, because it belonged jto that primitive aboriginal period in the history of our country when as yet bronze and iron manufactures were unknown, literature undeveloped, and, mayhap, ere ever Greece and Rome had commenced their conquests.

History is of two kinds, unwritten and written. The geologist compiles the first chapter of the world’s annals by interrogating Nature as to her works during the period commencing with the Creation and ending with the Deluge; the archaeologist takes up the second chapter, and interrogating Nature as to the works of man from the Deluge down to the period of a nation’s written literature. Hence the naturalist stands in much the same relation to geology that the antiquarian does to archaeology: the naturalist busies himself with existing natural phenomena, but geology deals not only with the living but the extinct; the antiquarian preserves determinate specimens of mediaeval and subsequent eras, while the archaeologist embraces modern, ancient, and what we have been accustomed to call the benighted and barbarous epochs. The limited view of antiquarianism has generally been the one most popularly prevalent. Thus, when Burns speaks of Captain Grose’s peregrinations.

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