The interest of the State in the ancient monuments and civilizations of Britain is recent in origin and limited in extent. It is the purpose of this paper to trace in outline the growth of State interest, the limits of State control at the present time, and the main lacunae which appear to exist in the mechanism for the preservation of our national antiquities. Before embarking on this topic it might be well to point out the two chief reasons why, before 1882, the State undertook little or no responsibility within a sphere now generally recognized as the proper concern of any civilized state. In the first place the study of British Archaeology has only within the last fifty years reached a degree of accuracy and discipline worthy of the expenditure of public funds; it is of the utmost significance in this connexion that the first scientific British archaeologist, General Pitt-Rivers, was appointed as first Inspector of Ancient Monuments under the Act of 1882.
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