Article ID: CBB001214311

British Pioneers of the Geology of Gibraltar, Part 2: Cave Archaeology and Geological Survey of the Rock, 1863 to 1878 (2014)


The 1860s marked a period of intense early interest in the antiquity of man, and so cave archaeology, in England and elsewhere. Systematic cave archaeology was initiated on Gibraltar in 1863 by a former infantry officer, Frederick Brome, the governor of the military prison, and his discoveries prompted cave exploration and local geological interest by two young British Army officers stationed on the Rock: Alexander Burton-Brown of the Royal Artillery and the subsequently more famous Charles (later Sir Charles) Warren of the Royal Engineers. On the recommendation of Sir Charles Lyell, President of the Geological Society of London, Brome's excavated material was sent to England for study by George Busk and Hugh Falconer: both palaeontologists of considerable distinction. The new discoveries drew attention to the `Gibraltar Skull', presented to the Gibraltar Scientific Society by Lieutenant Edmund Flint of the Royal Artillery in 1848 but recognized only after description of Homo neanderthalensis from Germany in 1864 as a relic of that extinct species---one of the most complete Neanderthal skulls known. Detailed topographical mapping of the Gibraltar peninsula by Charles Warren and interest in Gibraltar geology generated by cave studies led to the first geological survey of the Rock---by Andrew (later Sir Andrew) Crombie Ramsay and James Geikie of the `British' Geological Survey, in 1876. The first `overseas' project to be undertaken by the Survey, this was historically significant because its purpose was primarily hydrogeological and it generated an atypically large-scale (1:2,500) geological map. The map and its 1877-1878 descriptive accounts, which featured Quaternary superficial sediments in more detail than the Jurassic limestone bedrock, were to guide development of Gibraltar's fortress infrastructure for the next sixty-five years.

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Authors & Contributors
Rose, Edward P. F.
Foster, Paul
Corsi, Pietro
Townend, Matthew
Chapman, Mike
MacGregor, Arthur G.
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Archives of Natural History
Journal of the History of Collections
Bulletin of the History of Archaeology
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society
University of Oklahoma
Johns Hopkins University
Insegna del Giglio
Natural history
Geological surveys
Earth sciences
Smith, William
White, Gilbert
White, John
Scopoli, Giovanni Antonio
Collingwood, W. G.
Gann, Thomas William Francis
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
Bronze age
Great Britain
Great Britain. Geological Survey
Great Britain. Royal Engineers
University College, London
British Museum
Natural History Museum (London, England)
University of Padua

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