Ida_Mary_Roper_handwritten specimen identification card from herbaria at home
Ida Roper – Botanist
December 15, 2022
Rosamond Davenport Hill
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Ida_Mary_Roper_handwritten specimen identification card from herbaria at home
Ida Roper – BotanistArchaeologist1869 to 1951
December 15, 2022
Rosamond Davenport HillArchaeologist1869 to 1951
January 3, 2023

Edith Maud CunningtonArchaeologist1869 to 1951

Edith and Ben were pioneering archaeologist who made significant finds in Wiltshire.

Early life

Maud Pegge was born in Glamorgan to parents Charles and Catherine.  She grew up in the local private Lunatic Asylum as her surgeon father ran it.

Edith and Ben

Aged 19 she married 27 year old Edward Benjamin (Ben) Howard Cunnington. His official job was a wine merchant, as he had taken over his fathers business.  Ben had lots of other interests and he was praised for his journalistic contributions during the Boer War. He was also a Captain in the Wilts Rifles Association. Ben was also Mayor of Devizes several times, plus he served as  a magistrate.

Just over a year after their marriage Maud gave birth to their one and only child, a son, Edward Charles. Sadly their son died in  1918 during the First World War. 

Archaeological interests

Ben came from several generations of a family interested in archaeology in Wiltshire, and was a keen archaeologist himself. He was the Honorary Curator of Devizes Museum for over 60 years.

Maud too became interested in the subject and spent the winters writing articles and excavation reports and sorting and mending pottery finds. 

Rescue Archaeology

Maud  wrote many articles for the Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine from 1909–42, some of them detailing the destruction of barrows when using the land for other purposes, known as rescue archaeology.

In 1908 Maud joined the committee of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society, and she and Ben were commended, by the then president, for the skill and scientific methods used in their diggings.

Important contributions to archaeology

Maud and Ben excavated many sites

  • Neolithic camp at Knapp Hill (1908-1909)
  • Iron Age village at All Cannings Cross (1911 & 1920-22)
  • West Kennet Long Barrow near Avebury (1925)
  • Woodhenge(1926-8).
  • Plus they rediscovered the Sanctuary on Overton Hill in 1930

Her work was interrupted by the First World War and the death of Edward, her son.

Dedicated to Wiltshire Museum

In 1934 Maud and the curator, the Rev E H Goddard, sorted and labelled the entire collection of artefacts at the museum and produced “The Catalogue Of The Antiquities In The Museum Of The Wiltshire Archaeological And Natural History Society At Devizes”.

Victim of Alzheimer's disease

In 1947 the Cunningtons resigned from the Society, and were voted life members, but their decision had probably been prompted by the increasing effects of Maud’s Alzheimer’s disease which had by now rendered her bedridden.

The next year, Maud was made a CBE for services to Archaeology, the first female archaeologist to receive this honour, but sadly, she may not have been aware of the honour.

Death

Maud died on the 28th February 1951, and left £14,000 to the Devizes Museum, so that they could appoint a professional curator.

She died just a couple of months after her husband, and they were both cremated at Arnos Vale Cemetery and their remains were scattered in the Garden of Rest 1.

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Edith Maud Cunnington<span class="ag_notability">Botanist and funghi Specialist</span><span class="ag_event_date"><i class="icon-calendar"></i>1807 to 1876</span>
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