Research Strategy 2014 – 2019

Research Strategy 2014 – 2019

The Trustees wish to encourage research into all aspects of Layton and his Collection. This document suggests the areas of research in which it is most interested.

A bibliography of the books and articles which embody research about Layton or about objects which he once owned is available on our website and appears at the end of this paper. This is by no means exhaustive, and the Trustees would welcome additions.

Research Topics, with notes (October 2013)

Layton and his family
Aspects of Layton’s life were researched by a group from the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society during a period when the collection was likely to be removed from the London Borough of Hounslow and published later in the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal (Seaton 2000).

David Blomfield, of the Richmond Local History Society, published research into the history of Layton’s family in the 18th century, when they were living in Kew. (Richmond History vol 20,1999 and Richmond History vol 29, 2008).

Our project, Layton’s Legacy, was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund between 2005 and 2008. This enabled the Trust to employ a co-ordinator who collated existing research and carried out new work to make possible two exhibitions and the publication of a booklet (Galer 2007) about Layton’s life and his collection.

Layton and his collection
There are differing views about Layton as a collector. One paper describes him as “a misguided antiquary” (Blackmore and Whipp 1977).

Jon Cotton, then a member of staff of the Museum of London, has published a different view of Layton as a collector, in the context of other Victorian collectors (Cotton 1999).

Janet McNamara, a Layton trustee, has obtained contemporary accounts from the local press about Layton’s death and the work carried out on the collection by Fred Turner immediately afterwards. Several of these have already been added to the web-site and more will be added in the near future.

Glynn Davis, Archaeology Collections Manager (Volunteers) at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, has written a dissertation on Layton the Collector (Davis 2012).

The Trust has digitised the auction catalogues for the disposal sales in 1913.

The Collection cared for by at Hounslow Libraries
The small team of volunteers created by the Layton’s Legacy project completed an audit of the print and map collection and in 2o16 Christine Hayek completed her audit of the books. As a result some bibliographical research and work on the authors or others associated with individual books was begun. Subsequently, the Layton’s Library project has described some or the 17th and 18th century books for exhibitions, a publication and the new resource on this website. More volumes will be researched and photographed for this resource in future.

The Collection at the Museum of London
A group of students on the MA in Museum Studies at UCL have prepared a report on an item in the collection – a Maori “treasure box”: Currie, R, Davis, G, Elliott, C, Kruekamwang, U, & Pinto, R (2011)

There are a number of books and articles, written by archaeologists, which draw on Layton’s Collection to a greater or lesser extent. Some are listed in our bibliography. It would be a major but worthwhile task to compile a bibliography of the rest.

Themes for further research

Layton and his family
Layton and his family business – although David Blomfield has worked on the earlier business (which Layton inherited) we know very little about the Victorian business and its merger into Layton and Hardy, coal merchants.

Layton was a major local politician – his role in the development of Victorian Brentford is an important area only lightly covered so far.

Layton and his collection
Layton’s father: Glynn Davis and his colleagues have raised questions about how much his father collected, when objects were acquired, and what came into the Collection from his father’s time. There are also questions (arising from the sale catalogues) about what role Layton’s wife played as a collector in her own right.

Layton as an antiquarian collector
Layton moved within a social circle of like-minded gentlemen collectors, about whom surprisingly little is known. The early Minute Books of the Society of Antiquaries of London (founded in the 1700s), and of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (formed 1855), could be researched to advantage in this context. Links could also be sought with the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, who are currently in the process of digitising and researching the holdings of another London-based antiquary and contemporary of Layton, Henry Augustus Lane-Fox (later Pitt-Rivers).

The Collection at Hounslow Library
The history of the collection itself has not been written, although the Trustees’ minutes and records have recently been identified. Transferred from his house to Brentford Library following Layton’s death in 1911, the Collection was subsequently moved from there into storage beside Chiswick Town Hall, and then into Hounslow Library. Poor storage led to the loss of some of the material. Attempts were made to take it over (Gunnersbury Park Joint Committee in the 1950s) and to offer it to the University of East Anglia (1970s). The Trust Deed was reconstituted to support the move to Hounslow.

As the books are now on an electronic catalogue, the collection can be searched and studied in different ways

The prints and maps collection is so miscellaneous that it probably does not lend itself to a major research project in its own right. However, a valuable exercise would be a study of its contents in comparison with others, such as the British Museum, British Library and the City of London collections, to identify rarities and add contextual information.

There are many ways of exploiting special collections for on-line or physical exhibitions, articles and publications, and in each case the activity would be supported by research.

There is considerable potential for research on the book collection by those studying for qualifications in librarianship/library management. It may be necessary to provide information about the collection to the leaders of such courses in order to ensure that they realise the collection exists and can be made accessible.

The Collection at the Museum of London
The Maori Treasure Box is an example of research into a single object. There are many opportunities for research into single or groups of similar objects.

That portion of the Layton Collection held at the MOL, which principally comprises antiquities dredged from the west London Thames, is extensive and of international significance. It has long been, and rightly continues to be, used as a quarry for undergraduate and post-graduate research. The collection is particularly strong in terms of its Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age material, whose study has contributed to a series of seminal publications and dating programmes (see Bibliography).

However, certain other aspects of the collection, such as the ceramic, numismatic and ethnographic holdings, are less well known and less extensively researched: these offer rich opportunities for future work. Some exemplary work has been undertaken on the small Egyptian component (ref needed), and on individual ethnographic pieces (see Davis 2012). Some of this new research has been incorporated into the MOL Collections Online project.

The contents of the Layton Collection have the potential for exploitation through any of the three avenues that the MOL has identified in its Research Prospectus: archaeology; museum practice; and humanities (social history). None of these avenues – even archaeology – have yet been fully explored.

Finally, there are some items from the Layton Collection at Gunnersbury Park Museum. It may be necessary to research these further in 2014 to support the planned refurbishment of the museum.

Support for Research
The Trust is in a position to make modest grants to support research expenses (travel, photography, etc) for undergraduate and post-graduate students working on the Layton Collection. However, it is not equipped to undertake a detailed grant assessment exercise. A sum should be set aside as the maximum available in any single year and advice taken from Museum of London staff about potential recipients.

Publications relating to Layton and his collection include the following:

Layton in his local and social context

Blackmore, L & Whipp, D, (1977), ‘Thomas Layton FSA (1819-1911) A Misguided Antiquary’, London Archaeologist 3 (4), 90-96

Blomfield, D, (2008), ‘Kew Riverside 1820-1920’, Richmond History 29, 63-71

Canham, Roy, (1978), 2000 Years of Brentford, London: HMSO

Cotton, J (1999), ‘Ballast-heavers and battle-axes: the ‘Golden Age’ of Thames finds’, in A Coles & M Dion, Archaeology, London: Black Dog Publishing, 59-71

Galer, M (2007), Layton’s Legacy, Thomas Layton Trust

Henrey, R (1946), The King of Brentford, Peter Davies

Hume, I (1956), Treasures in the Thames, Muller

Seaton, Shirley (2000), ‘Thomas Layton FSA: the Obsessive Collector’, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 9

Turner, Fred (1922), History and Antiquities of Brentford


Adkins, R & Jackson, R, (1978), Neolithic Stone and Flint Axes from the River Thames, British Museum Occasional Paper 1

Burgess, C B & Gerloff, S, (1981), The Dirks and Rapiers of Great Britain and Ireland, Munich: Prähistorische Bronzefunde, IV, 7

Clarke, D L, (1970), Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Colquhuon, I & Burgess, C B, (1988), The Swords of Britain, Munich: Prähistorische Bronzefunde, IV, 5

Davis, R, (2013), The Early and Middle Bronze Age Spearheads of Britain, Stuttgart: Prähistorische Bronzefunde, V, 5

Field, D, (1989), ‘Tranchet axes and Thames picks: Mesolithic core tools from the west London Thames’, Trans Lond Middx Archaeol Soc 40, 1-26

Fox, C (1958), Pattern and Purpose: A Survey of Early Celtic Art in Britain

Gerloff, S, (1975), The Early Bronze Age Daggers in Great Britain and a Reconsideration of the Wessex Culture, Munich: Prähistorische Bronzefunde, IV, 2

Greenwell, W & Brewis, W P, (1909), ‘The origin, evolution and classification of the bronze spearhead in Great Britain and Ireland’, Archaeologia 61, 439-72

Grimes, W F, (1931), ‘The Early Bronze Age flint dagger in England and Wales’, Proc Prehist Soc E Anglia 6, 340-55

Hawkes, C F C & Hull, R, (1987), Corpus of Ancient Brooches in Britain, BAR British Series 168

Jope, E M, (1961), ‘Daggers of the Early Iron Age in Britain’, Proc Prehist Soc 27, 307-43

Jope, E M, (1982), ‘Hallstatt D daggers: Britain and Europe’, Bull Inst Archaeol 19, 83-9

Jope, E M, (2000), Early Celtic Art in the British Isles

Macdonald, J, (1978), ‘An Iron Age dagger in the Royal Ontario Museum’, in J Bird, H Chapman & J Clark (eds), Collectanea Londiniensia: Studies in London archaeology and history presented to Ralph Merrifield, LAMAS Special Paper 2, 44-52

Needham, S & Burgess, C, (1980), ‘The Later Bronze Age in the lower Thames valley: the metalwork evidence’, in J Barrett & R Bradley (eds), Settlement and Society in the British Later Bronze Age, BAR British Series 83, 437-69

Needham, S, Ramsey, C B, Coombs, D, Cartwright, C & Pettitt, P, (1997), ‘An independent chronology for British Bronze Age metalwork: the results of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Programme’, Archaeol Journ 154, 55-107

O’Connor, B, (1980), Cross-Channel Relations in the British Later Bronze Age, BAR International Series 91

Rowlands, M J, (1976), The Production and Distribution of Metalwork in the Middle Bronze Age in Southern Britain, BAR British Series 31

Simpson, D D A (1996), ‘”Crown” Antler Maceheads and the Later Neolithic in Britain’, Proc Prehist Soc 62, 293-309

Smith, C, (1989), ‘British antler mattocks’, in C Bonsall (ed), The Mesolithic in Europe: Papers Presented at the Third International Symposium, Edinburgh 1985, 272-83

Smith, Reginald A (1920), ‘Specimens from the Layton Collection, in Brentford Public Library’, Archaeologia LXIX (22), 1-30

Stead, I M (1984) Some notes on imported metalwork in Iron Age Britain, Society of Antiquaries of London, Occasional Paper 4

Stead, I M (1985), Celtic Art, British Museum

Vulliamy, C E (1930), Archaeology of Middlesex and London, Methuen

Museum practice

Coote, J (2008), ‘Joseph Banks’ Forty Brass Patus’, Journal of Museum Ethnography 20, 49-68

Currie, R, Davis, G J C, Elliott, C, Kruekamwang, U & Pinto, R (2011), A Maori Treasure Box from the Thomas Layton Collection (Museum of London Accession no Q100, Research Documentation Report submitted for MA in Museum Studies

Davis, G J C (2012), The Thomas Layton Collection: Reassembling the ‘Artificial Curiosities’ of a Victorian Antiquarian, for MA dissertation in Museum Studies, UCL Institute of Archaeology