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A man changed by Darwin



In a short autobiographical sketch, Robert Munro divided his life into three phases: in his youth there was a struggle for education, his prime was devoted to public duty as a medical practitioner in the west of Scotland and, finally, early retirement led to an extraordinary new career spurred on by a passion for archaeology. While still practising medicine in the west of Scotland, Munro's involvement in the activities of the Ayr and Wigtown Archaeological Association paved the way to excavations of local crannog sites. His scholarly reputation was established in 1882 throught the publication of "Ancient Scottish Lake Dwelllings". It was this reputation, as well as recently inherited family wealth, that encouraged him to retire early from the medical practice and devote the rest of his life to the pursuit of archaeology. While his Scottish archaeological interests never waned and he was closely associated wiht and active in the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, he spent much time travelling in Europe gathering materials on the then buoyant researches into lacustrine settlements. "The Lake-Dwellings of Europe", initally delivered as Rhind lectures in 1888 and published two years later, sealed his reputation as a serious scholar. Subsequently Munro played an important role in British archaeology, either through his involvement with national organisations, for example the British Association for the Advancement of Science, or association with important archaeological projects, such as excavations at Glastonbury. In 1910 Robert Munro endowed a series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh, a tradition which continues to this day.


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