Charles Warne F.S.A. (1801-1887)

The following obituary for the Antiquarian, Charles Warne born at Moreton, Dorset was originally published in The Antiquary, Volume  XV, 1887.

The death has been announced at Brunswick Road, Brighton, of Charles Warne, the well-known antiquary, at the advanced age of 85. Mr. Warne was a Dorset man by birth, and lived there during the first fifty years of his life. Imbued with strong antiquarian tastes, he devoted himself to exploring the ancient history of his county, and in this congenial work he spared neither time nor labour ; and with the late Mr. Charles Hall, Mr. Sydenham, and Mr. Shipp, and Dr. Smart, he formed a small and zealous band who acted as pioneers in an archaeological movement which has laid open for Dorsetshire and Dorset men many rich antiquarian treasures, and has dispelled as far as possible the clouds and mists that veiled its prehistoric annals. Mr. Warne himself opened many tumuli with which the county abounds, and was also most successful in tracing throughout its limits the Roman roads, and in investigating the footprints of its earliest inhabitants. In the course of these labours he formed a fine collection of early British, Saxon, and other antiquities, peculiarly rich in sepulchral urns ; and these all have found their proper resting-place in the county museum at Dorchester. His collections of coins were also large, and in those of Carausius and Allectus probably unequalled. When the Great Western Railway was being carried into Dorset, Mr. Warne discovered that the line was planned to pass through, and so to utterly destroy, the Roman amphitheatre on the outskirts of Dorchester, the finest example of its kind in the kingdom. Alarmed at this threatened destruction, he commenced an agitation, and appealed to Brunel, who was engineer-in-chief. Brunel at once took steps, be it said to his credit, to divert the line, and this ancient monument was spared to go down as a landmark to future generations. The Society of Antiquaries on this occasion passed a special vote of thanks to Mr. Warne. In 1852 he removed from Dorsetshire to London, and thus came into contact with all the leading antiquaries of the day ; in 1844 he had joined the British Archaeological Association, and in 1856 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. At both Societies, as long as health and strength remained, he was a regular attendant, and a constant contributor to their Transactions, as well as to the Gentleman’s Magazine and to other antiquarian publications. In the Collectanea Antiqua, by Mr. Roach Smith, who was for so many years among his most valued friends, we find constant references to him and his labours ; and so, too, in Mr. Smith’s Retrospections, which also contains Notes of a 7’our in France, made by them in 1854, transcribed from Mr. Warne’s diary, and illustrated by Mr. Smith. In 1865 Mr. Warne published his first work, Dorsetshire, its Vestiges, Celtic, Hainan, Saxon, and Danish, in which the ancient remains were carefully classified ; and as a companion work, he at the same time published ” A Map of Ancient Dorset,” in which these remains were noted down. In i860 was published the Celtic Tumuli of Dorset, containing the researches of himself and others, and abounding with plates and woodcuts. In 1872 followed his most important work, which has already taken rank as a standard authority, Ancient Dorset. This is the record of the labours and researches of a long life, and has accomplished for Dorset what Sir Richard Colt Hoare had previously done for Wiltshire, and which should be done for all our counties. The work, a large folio, is profusely illustrated, and is further enriched by a well-written Introduction to the Primeval Ethnology of Dorset, by Dr. Wake Smart. Mr. Warne’s love for his native county remained strong within him, and was his leading characteristic to the end. His old and lifelong friend, the Reverend William Barnes, the Dorset poet, preceded him but a few months to the grave, and by the lives of these two of her sons Dorset has been well served, and by their deaths she loses much.


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