This paper uses original documentary evidence held in the archives of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in Devizes to reassess the work of William Cunnington, FSA, carried out on behalf of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, and the contribution of his two principal excavators, Stephen and John Parker, of Heytesbury, in Wiltshire. Previously the Parkers have been regarded as little more than regular labourers on Cunnington’s pioneering excavations; the evidence now suggests that they (and in particular John) were, in fact, key to the success of Cunnington’s work. By the time of Cunnington’s death in 1810, John Parker was identifying new sites on the Wiltshire Downs and, on occasion, taking sole responsibility for excavating and interpreting them. After 1810 Hoare sponsored few further excavations and, though John was employed on at least one occasion, in 1814, the Parkers dropped back into obscurity and poverty without the regular employment, and perhaps protection, provided by Cunnington. Although John’s obituary in 1867 described him as Cunnington’s ‘principal pioneer’, no research has previously been undertaken that specifically considers the contribution of the Parkers in those early British excavations. This paper seeks to redress that oversight.