What is an Antiquary?
We are grateful to Fellows Rosemary Sweet, Emma Carver and John Cooper, who in 2019 tackled this question.
The term ‘antiquary’ first appeared in England in the sixteenth century, and referred to anyone who studied or collected the textual or material remains of the past. By the time of the Society’s foundation in 1707 this definition still held, and the Society’s membership encompassed remarkably diverse interests.
Today archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and art historians all fall within the sphere of the antiquarian project, unified by their curiosity in the human journey through time. The ambition to preserve and record the past that prompted the Society’s first founders has grown to sustain our modern heritage sector, and so our membership includes archivists, curators, conservators and other heritage professionals.