Crawford, one of the leading cartographers and archaeologists of the 20th century, was born in Bombay in 1886, but was raised and educated in England. He attended Marlborough College and then Keble College, Oxford, where he studied geography. During World War One he served as a photographer and later joined the Royal Flying Corps as an observer. He was able to use these experiences in later life when pioneering the use of aerial photography for archaeological purposes.
He came to Southampton in 1920 to take up a post as archaeological officer at the Ordnance Survey. His main role was the revision of OS maps with archaeological information. He founded in 1927 the periodical Antiquity, the only independent archaeological journal in the world. In 1941-1942, shortly after the Blitz, he completed a photographic survey of Southampton’s surviving ancient buildings and monuments. He retired in 1946 after spending his entire working life with the Ordnance Survey.
After retiring, he continued to work for the preservation of Southampton’s archaeological heritage, becoming a founder member of the Friends of Old Southampton, the president of the Hampshire Field Club, and writing a book about the history of Nursling (1948). He lived at Hope Cottage in Redbridge Lane, firstly as a lodger, then a tenant. He famously travelled everywhere by bicycle (image below), carrying his equipment with him. He died in 1957 and is buried in Nursling. Crawford Close in Nursling is named after him.
- Defender of Old Soton dies in sleep - (Echo 29/11/1957)
- "Nursling scholar and local historian" - (Southern Evening Echo 09/10/1981). Article about Crawford's life and career.
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton City Art Gallery. (HS/t)
Said and Done: the Autobiography of an Archaeologist, by O.G.S. Crawford. (HS/u)
Bloody Old Britain: O.G.S. Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life, Kitty Hauser (2009).
The tale of Mr Crawford and his cap - (John Charlton, British Antiquity, March 1999). Describes, among other things, how Crawford saved historic maps at the Ordnance Survey from destruction in the war by storing them in his garage.
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