Friday, 13 April 2007

(Vice) Admiral Boyle Somerville - What he was 'Into'

He was an experienced sailor, he was very interested and wrote extensively on British ancient monuments, including Stonehenge, it is recorded in Alfred Watkins' - The Old Straight Track that he visited and commented on the barrows in South Uist.Hhe visited Muscat and had an 'encounter' with apes and he wrote papers for the Royal Anthropological Institute.

South Uist
Alfred Watkins - The Old Straight Track - Alignment of Mounds
Admiral Boyle Somerville ("Archaelogia," Vik. LXXIII, p.216), makes it clear that two barrows in the Isle of South Uist, namely, Barp Frobost and North Frobost Barp, lie "on the exact Meridian line (north and south) which passes through the conspicuous (and carried) summits of two hills, Reineval and Askervien."

Muscat British Embassy: Muscat - Anecdotes
...Mrs. Cox, the daughter of Surgeon General Hamilton of the Royal Army Medical Corps in India, kept “a troop of apes” living by the stairs to scare off unwanted callers. When Vice-Admiral Boyle Somerville visited Muscat in 1902 he met these colorful characters who “gnashed their teeth, yearningly, on the unfortunate visitor; they leapt and danced at the full extent of their straining waist-chains, clucking and gibbering at him, or hideously shrieking battle, murder, and sudden death; they seized the handrail – mercifully a stout one, and they could only just reach it – and shook it in impotent fury. In brief, they put the wind up you. Mrs. Cox had in 1895 in India kept two monkeys, Toto and Teddy who were “always getting loose and making hay around the place” but whether it was these two that Somerville encountered we do not know...

Royal Anthropological Institute -
...There are Council minute books and publications, and a huge variety of letters covering several Committees, Awards, Lectures and all matters concerning the Institute. These are divided into subject areas, and there is a comprehensive index, which is being added to continuously, as more material is archived. This is available for consultation, and the archives can be viewed by appointment, except for material produced in the last thirty years.

The Manuscript collection covers material not available in published form, and includes donations of papers left to the Institute. Examples include the papers of:

• M.E. Durham
• N.G. Munro
• R.S. Rattray
• M.W. Smith
• E.H. Man
• M.L. Tildesley
• Sir E. im Thurn
• Vice Admiral Boyle T. Somerville
• E. Dayrell
• A.B. Deacon
• M.W. Hilton-Simpson
• C.W. Hobley

The material includes field-notes, letters, sketch-books, diaries, cuttings and photographs, hand-written vocabularies, genealogies, prize essays, and notes, both hand-written and typed, on subjects covering every field of anthropology. This material is also indexed and may be examined by appointment. There are some copying restrictions, but notes may be taken.

Enquiries should be made to the Archives Officer, Sarah Walpole, by phone on +44 (0)20 7387 0455, fax on +44 (0)20 7388 8817, or email at

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