Alexandre lenoir

Not so dryasdust: how 18th-century antiquarians proved the first ‘modern’ historians

Antiquaries have had a bad press. If mentioned at all today, they are often derided as reclusive pedants poring over details of manuscripts and shards with little relevance to the wider world. As recently as 1990, the respected ancient historian Arnaldo Momigliano skewered their pretensions when he described them as ‘interested in historical facts without being interested in history’. Rosemary Hill, the biographer of Augustus Pugin, the architect of Gothic revivalism, which owed much to antiquarianism, has other ideas. In this engaging survey, she shows how antiquaries’ interest in fields such as coins and heraldry actually enhanced the study of history, notably around the time of the French Revolution, when