Graham Perry, Emeritus Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of York, will talk on 'The Many Pasts of Britain: the Rise of Antiquarian Studies in the 17th Century'.
As new models of scholarship entered England in the middle of Elizabeth's reign, scholars began to take a more critical approach to the origins of Britain. Who were the ancestors of the English? Where did they come from? What language did they speak? What was their way of life, their religious beliefs? The traditional views of the British past became discredited, as more systematic methods of enquiry were introduced. After William Camden's seminal book 'Britannia' was published in 1586, a new type of scholar began to emerge: the antiquary. The achievements of men such as John Selden, James Ussher, William Dugdale and John Aubrey will be briefly assessed, and their (often surprising) discoveries will be presented, for the enjoyment of a modern audience.
Graham Parry is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.