William Gowland (1842-1922)
Source Wikimedia/Osaka Mint Archives (Zoheikyoku gojyu-nin-shi 造幣局八十年史) circa 1888
To commemorate the 90th anniversary today of the death of William Gowland, ‘Father of Japanese Archaeology’, the following are some extracts from the Wikipedia entry on him –
William Gowland (1842 – 9 June 1922) was an English mining engineer most famous for his archaeological work at Stonehenge and in Japan. He is known in Japan as the “Father of Japanese Archaeology”, which is an exaggeration. He was a major founding figure.
Gowland was born in Sunderland, in County Durham in northern England. He attended the Royal College of Chemistry and Royal School of Mines at South Kensington specializing in metallurgy, and worked as a chemist and metallurgist at the Broughton Copper Company from 1870-1872. However, in 1872, at the age of 30, he was recruited by the Meiji government of the Empire of Japan as a foreign engineering advisor at the Osaka Zōheikyoku, the forerunner of the Japan Mint.

On New Year’s Eve 1900, Stone 22 of the Sarsen Circle fell over, taking with it a lintel. Following public pressure and a letter to The Times by William Flinders Petrie, The owner, Edmund Antrobus, agreed to remedial engineering work under archaeological supervision so that records could be made of the below ground archaeology.

Antrobus appointed Gowland to manage the job, who despite having no formal archaeological training, produced some of the finest, most detailed excavation records ever made at the monument. The only area he opened was that around the then precariously leaning Stone 56 (the western stone of the Great Trilithon), an area measuring around 17 ft by 13 ft, and the difficulty was compounded in that only small areas were dug at each time to allow concrete to be poured and set.

Despite these difficulties, he established that antler picks had been used to dig the stone holes and that the stones themselves had been worked to shape on site. His work identified the ‘Stonehenge layer’, a thin strata of bluestone chips that sealed many of the non-megalithic features at the site and proved that they predated the standing stones.

Gowland died in London on 9 June 1922 at the age of 80, and was buried at Marylebone Cemetery.

Full Wikipedia entry here.