John Evans and the Lake-Dwellings


(click on the boxes to link to the various pages)


When the lake-dwelling fever spread all over Europe in the second half of the 19th century, as a result of the Swiss discoveries, scholars in Britain were also affected by the fascination of lacustrine material culture coming from the Alpine region. A vigorous trade in such artefacts developed: antiquarians, scholars, business men as well as fishermen started a competitive hunt for those ‘precious’ prehistoric artefacts. Amongst them, also Sir John Evans became interested in the lake-dwelling phenomenon and began to collect these valued artefacts.


This website shows his lake-dwelling material collection and how he organised and catalogued it (in a hand-written catalogue), before it was donated to the Ashmolean Museum. Most of the artefacts included here are Neolithic, but some of them are Bronze Age in date. 


When the objects were registered in the Museum, a new set of numbers was given, without noting the numbers given to them by Evans, but some objects still retain the original Evans numbers. These are highlighted in blue in the Catalogue. The purpose of this website is to give an idea of Evans’ original lake-dwelling collection, how and from where he purchased or obtained the artefacts (his contacts and correspondence with other antiquarians or scholars), and what remains of them.



The above-listed clickable flowchart explains the structure of the website, which consists of four main pages interlinked with each other. The single pages have themselves various clickable links to other pages.


Page description is as follows: HOME: the website structural flowchart and the introductory description. HISTORY OF RESEARCH: a general introduction to the lake-dwelling phenomenon from the first discovery of a prehistoric lacustrine village to the present-day research. CONTACTS: a list of the available letters of correspondence between Sir John Evans and the various lake-dwelling antiquarians in the Alpine region. The letters contain evidence of artefact purchasing and those highlighted are linked to original drawing of the artefact as well as the photograph of the object. CATALOGUE: Sir J. Evans' hand-written catalogue shown page by page. The highlighted and clickable numbers are linked to the artefacts, which still retain the original filing number. ARTEFACT CLASSIFICATION: the lake-dwelling artefact collection has been divided into the eight categories used by Evans in dividing his material, which not only facilitate perusal of the website, but also give a clear idea of the kinds of material culture found on prehistoric lacustrine settlements in the Alpine region.

Website (text, photographs and web-design) created by Francesco Menotti
Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University

© Copyright University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 2005
The Ashmolean Museum retains the copyright of all materials
used here and in its Museum Web pages