Sir John Evans Centenary Project - image background is marbled paper from one of John Evans's books John Evans Numismatic Society Medal 1899

J.J.A. Worsaae

Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae was born in 1821 in Denmark and died in 1885. He was a professional archaeologist, a comtemporary of Evans and was involved with the development of ideas within European prehistory. He was a Member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Copenhagen and a Royal Commissioner for the preservation of the National Monuments of Denmark. Eventually he became director of the Museum of Nordic Antiquities (now the National Museum in Copenhagen). He was a central figure in the International Congresses of Archaeology and Anthropology, as was John Evans.

Incidentally Joseph Anderson, a central figure in the history of Scottish archaeology, was introduced to Worsaae by Evans (letter of July 1872).

Within archaeological methodology there has been defined Worsaae's Law, which states that artefacts deposited together in a grave were in use at the time.

Further References / Links:

A useful short bibliography of Worsaae survives in the context of a research project in Ireland. The project investigates watercolours, ordered by Worsaae, depicting the collections then in Dublin: "Tracing Ireland's Lost Archaeology".

Worsaae J. J. A. (1849): The Primaeval Antiquities of Denmark, was translated and applied to the illustration of similar remains in England by William J. Thoms. However Thoms's English version is not quite true to the original, although presented as a translation, as shown in an article containing a discussion of the principles in Danmarks Oldtid by Worsaae. (Current research on this is being undertaken by Dr Peter Rowley-Convy)

A book written by Worsaae is available online: Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1852.

James Graham-Campbell, 'Death and Wealth in Viking Scotland', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 134, (2004) pp. 201-23, pays particular attention to the publications by J J A Worsaae and Daniel Wilson, in the mid-19th century; they provided a fundamental impetus towards the replacement of 'antiquarian speculation' by 'scientific archaeology' in Scotland. The latter part of the paper is devoted to a description and discussion of the outstanding contribution made by Joseph Anderson to Scottish Viking studies, during the second half of the 19th century.