Victorians and the Prehistoric: Tracks to a Lost World

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Yale University Press, 2004 - History - 310 pages
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When one considers the sheer amount of rock and earth that the Victorians excavated as they criss-crossed Britain with railways and canals, it is hardly surprising that they became fascinated by the fossils, bones and man-made treasures that they happened upon. This well-presented and very readable study examines the Victorian fascination with their unfathomable past and the fear and religious insecurity that accompanied their quest to uncover more. Supported by contemporary illustrations, often in colour, including paintings, sketches, plans, elevations and portraits, Freeman's book explores the Victorian understanding of the extent of time based on the discovery of geological strata, the dinosaur craze that followed some spectacular discoveries on the southern coast, and the ways in which Victorians sought to reconcile Biblical events (notably the Deluge) with the geological record. Finally Freeman considers the establishment of the first museums, modelled upon Europe's great cathedrals, and their ground-breaking collections.
  

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Contents

Tracks to a Lost World
9
Time that Unfathomable Abyss
53
The Testimony of the Rocks
85
Let there be Dragons
131
Washing Away a World
163
Competition Competition
191
The Prehistoric as Exhibition
227
Epilogue
259
Select Bibliography
299
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About the author (2004)

Michael Freeman, supernumerary fellow and lecturer in human geography at Mansfield College, Oxford, is also the author of Railways and the Victorian Imagination, published by Yale University Press.

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