Exhibit on Antiquaries in Britain 1707–2007: Celebrating the people who laid foundations of modern history of Britain

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LONDON: At distant intervals, crucial decisions give a new twist to the cultural history of a nation. When the Society of Antiquaries held its second meeting only one week after its foundation on Dec. 5, 1707, the members decided that its purpose was to seek out "such things as may Illustrate and Relate to the History of Great Britain." By "things" they meant "Antient Coins, books, sepulchres or other Remains of Antient Worship."

So it was that at one stroke of the pen, the newly founded society laid the foundations of history as understood today, giving precedence to material evidence over the a priori theories, largely mythical, that had prevailed until then about the British past.

"Making History: Antiquaries In Britain, 1707-2007," the show on view at the Royal Academy until Dec. 2 to celebrate the foundation of the Society, displays some of these "things" and recounts the circumstances in which they were recorded.

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