Agnes Conway

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Agnes Ethel Conway (1885–1950) was a British historian and archaeologist who worked in the Middle East from 1929-1936. She was noted for her work with her husband George Horsfield at Petra and Kilwa, and produced detailed studies of the history of her father's castle, Allington, in Kent which had been owned by the Wyatt family in the 16th century.

Personal life[edit]

Agnes Conway was born on 2 May 1885 to William Martin Conway and Katrina Conway (née Lombard). She attended Baker Street High School and Kings College before becoming a student at Newnham College, Cambridge in 1903. She studied for a History Tripos while also having tutorials in Greek from Jane Ellen Harrison, then Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at Newnham. Her father bought Allington Castle in Kent in 1905, and began a lengthy restoration of the castle in the following years.

Agnes passed both parts of her History Tripos by 1907 and continued her tutorials in Greek with Harrison with a view to studying archaeology.[1] She added to and catalogued her father's growing collection of photographs, working with Eugenie Sellers Strong at the British School at Rome in 1912 on this project. Admitted as a student of the British School at Athens for the 1913/1914 session, she travelled widely in Greece and the Balkans in 1914 with a friend, Evelyn Radford, who had also attended Newnham. Conway published an account of the journey, entitled A Ride Through the Balkans, on Classic Ground with a Camera in 1917.

From 1917-1929, Conway worked on gathering materials representing women's work in the First World War as a member of the Women at Work Committee of the newly established Imperial War Museum. Her father, Martin Conway, had been made Director-General. She also attended classes at the Institute of Historical Research, where she studied the relationship of Henry VII with Scotland and Ireland, for which she was awarded an M. A. degree from the University of London. For this project she spent much time at the British Museum Reading Room and the Public Records Office.

Conway visited Petra for the first time in 1928, accompanying family friends on an extensive trip through Egypt, Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq. Struck by its beauty, she went back to Allington determined to do further research and write up her journey for publication. She contacted George Horsfield, Chief Inspector of Antiquities for the Transjordan Government, in order to find out more about the site; eventually becoming part of a team of archaeologists, including Horsfield, Tawfiq Canaan, a Palestinian physician, and Dr Detlief Nielsen, from Copenhagen, to explore Petra in detail in March 1929. Conway lectured on Petra at the Royal Geographical Society in 1930. She kept in touch with Horsfield over the results of the excavation, and the two developed a close relationship, resulting in their marriage in St George's Cathedral, Jerusalem, on 29 January 1932.


Further reading[edit]

  • Conway, W. M. 1914. The Sport of Collecting. London: T. Fisher Unwin.
  • Conway, A. E. 1917. A ride through the Balkans: on classic ground with a camera. London: R. Scott.
  • Horsfield, G.; Conway, A. (1930). "Historical and Topographical Notes on Edom: with an account of the first excavations at Petra". The Geographical Journal. 76 (5): 369–390. doi:10.2307/1784200. 


  1. ^ Thornton, Amara (2011). "The Allure of Archaeology: Agnes Conway and Jane Harrison at Newnham College, 1903–1907". Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 21 (1): 37–56. doi:10.5334/bha.2114. 


  • Evans, J. 1966. The Conways: A History of Three Generations. London: Museum Press.
  • The Times, 29 January 1932. Marriages. The Times (Issue 46043, Col D), p 15.

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