Members at our 2007 BBQ

Naturalists' Society

Cymdeithas Naturiaethwyr



Sir Cyril Fred Fox D.LITT., PH.D., F.S.A., F.B.A (1882-1967) 57th President

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We do not have an obituary of Sir Cyril Fox, however with such a public figure there is a lot of information about him available online. There is an obituary of him in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography which gives some details of his unusual academic career

After leaving school at 16 he was trained as a vegetable gardener, then a clerk on the Tuberculosis Commission. When the commission finished its work, about 1912, some of its members set up a research station at Cambridge and Fox was appointed to take care of its administration until the Ministry of Agriculture took control of it.Some of his friends at Cambridge then arranged for him to register for a degree course at Magdalene College, Cambridge, but at the end of his first year, "in a most unusual and skilful academic move" he did not complete his degree scheme but was transferred under the title "pre-fellow" to carry out research work in the same college and to assist in the university museum of archaeology and anthropology . He gained his Ph.D. with work published as The Archaeology of the Cambridge region (1922). In 1923 Fox became assistant curator of the University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.

The Archaeology of the Cambridge region

The Archaeology of the Cambridge region

Sir Cyril Fred Fox, by Walter Stoneman 1945 NPG x167635, used under CC licence

Sir Cyril Fred Fox, by Walter Stoneman x167635, used under CC licence

in 1924 he moved to the dual post of Keeper of Archaeology in the National Museum of Wales and Lecturer in Archaeology at University College, Cardiff, and then appointed Director of the National Museum of Wales in 1926 after Dr (later Sir) Mortimer Wheeler resigned. He was knighted in 1935 during his period of directorship. During these years he was an extremely active member of the society and led many trips and gave many presentations which are recorded in summary in the transactions

These examples are from Volume LVIII of the transactions in 1925: -

Second Summer Meeting.

The second Summer Meeting took place on Saturday, the 27th June, when visits were paid to Gloucester Cathedral, Deerhurst Church, and Tewkesbury Abbey. Ninety-four members took train to Gloucester and visited the Cathedral, under the leadership of Dr. Cyril Fox, F.S.A. After lunch the party proceeded by road to Deerhurst, where the Saxon Church was inspected, the Vicar acting as leader. At Tewkesbury Abbey, Dr. Fox explained the interesting features. Lunch and tea were served at Bother- way's Cafe.

Third Summer Meeting.

On 26th September, Coity Castle and Church, Coychurch Church, and Penllyn Castle were visited by about one hundred members. At Coity and Coychurch the President and Dr. Cyril Fox acted as leaders, and at Penllyn Castle, Colonel H. R. Homfray was good enough to meet the members. Tea was obtained at the Duke of Wellington Hotel, Cowbridge.

And these from 1926: -

Second Summer Meeting.

The Second Summer Meeting took place on Saturday, the 26th June, when a visit was paid to the Museum at Monmouth, which contains the extensive and interesting collection of Nelson Relics brought together by the late Lady Llangattock. The Church, Norman Motte, and Harold's Stones at Trellech were visited under the leadership of the Vicar (The Reverend T. Davies, M.A.) and Dr. Cyril Fox, F.S.A. The latter acting as leader also at Tintern Abbey, which was visited after tea. Ninety-seven members were present, the journey being made by chars-a-bancs. Lunch was served at the Duke of Beaufort Hotel, Monmouth, and tea at the Royal George Hotel, Tintern.

Third Summer Meeting.

On 25th September, 155 members visited the Churches at Peterston, Wentloog, and St. Brides, en route to the excavations being carried out at the Roman Amphitheatre at Caerleon. The Vicar of Marshfield (The Reverend H. G. Stanley) gave addresses upon the history of the two Churches, and at Caerleon Dr. Cyril Fox delivered an interesting address upon the Roman occupation of Caerleon.

Members departing for a trip in Charabancs, from society archives

Members departing for a trip in Charabancs, from society archives

Members departing for a trip in Charabancs, from society archives

Members departing for a trip in Charabancs, from society archives

He remained there until his retirement in 1948, overseeing the completion of the museum's new building and the development of the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagans. He was noted as being prolific in his fieldwork and publications, many of which are still available

Selection of covers of his books

Selection of covers of his books

Cyril Fox was noted for his inspirational leadership and his literary, artistic and humane sensibility, and also his passion for landscape and craftsmanship. His division of Britain into Highland and Lowland zones was particularly influential, and his work included major studies of Offa's Dyke and Monmouthshire houses (covers above), as well as wide-ranging surveys and detailed examinations of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Mediaeval and Modern subjects across Britain and Ireland. He served on the royal commissions for ancient monuments in both England and Wales, and also on many other professional bodies

If you want to see some examples of his detailed recording notes whilst visiting and excavating sites there is an excellent write up regarding his excavation in 1939-40 of what was to become first the WWII airfield Llandow and then the site of the 2012 National Eisteddfod Beneath the Eisteddfod of 2012 is a sacred landscape. The webpage includes an excellent set of scanned notebook pages with detailed drawings, photographs and notes.

(As a personal note and showing how incredibly interlinked these pages are even when people from far away are involved. The grandfather of this author (Andy Kendall 113th President was based at that airfield during the war as a navigation instructor)

As would be expected of such a person his passing was noted especially in archaeological journals such as this from Archaeologia Cambrensis

Sir Cyril Fred Fox by Walter Bird 1958

Sir Cyril Fred Fox by Walter Bird 1958 NPG x167636 used under CC licence

There are many other reference works and websites with information about him

Book - Cyril Fox: Archaeologist Extraordinary by his son Charles Scott-Fox

National Archives listing - Fox, Sir Cyril Frederick (1882-1967), Knight, archaeologist

National Library of Wales Sir Cyril Fox Papers

An interesting aside and something that relates to the initial rules of the society in that women were welcome as members from the initial days of the Society is that his second wife Lady Aileen served as president of the archaeological section

Archaeloglocal section Committee 1945-46

Archaeological section Committee 1945-46

She is also pictured along with him and Principal J. F. Rees and others in this newspaper picture

Sir Cyril Fox, Lady Fox pictured with J. F. Rees and other members

Sir Cyril Fox, Lady Fox pictured with J. F. Rees 65th President and other members

Back to the 150th Anniversary index

Before this... Frederick John North O.B.E., D.Sc, F.G.S., F.M.A. (1889-1968) 56th President

Next up... Walter Medley Tattersall, D.Sc., (1883-1943) 58th President

See our Full list of Presidents

These pages are part of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society 150th Anniversary celebrations and are about our history and are celebrating the people who developed our Society and helped build the city and the cultural heritage of Cardiff. You can read more about that using the links above

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