Charles McBurney (archaeologist)

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Charles Brian Montagu McBurney (18 June 1914 – 14 December 1979) was an American archaeologist who spent most of his working life in England.

Life and career[edit]

McBurney was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the son of Dorothy Lillian (Rundall) and Henry McBurney, and the grandson of Charles McBurney, the American surgeon (known to subsequent generations of surgeons for defining McBurney's point). His mother was English, the daughter and granddaughter of British Army officers; his father was an American engineer. He spent his childhood in the USA until he was eleven, then his parents took him to London, and then to Switzerland, and France. Young McBurney was home schooled.[1]

In 1933, he entered King's College, Cambridge, reading French and German, and then Archaeology and Anthropology. Graduate studies were interrupted by war service in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR). He completed his PhD focused on studies of European flint assemblages in 1948. In 1950, he became a British citizen.[1]

In 1952, he started as a lecturer in archaeology at Cambridge, and later Reader and finally Professor of Quaternary Prehistory. His work included studies of the Upper Paleolithic in Britain, important excavations in the Channel Islands, extensive excavations in Libya (the Haua Fteah cave)[2] and, in later years, excavations in Iran and Afghanistan.[1] He also published on French prehistory,[3] archaeological work in the Soviet Union,[4] and on cave art. His continuing influence is felt in the work of his many pupils.[1]

He was the father of the composer and writer Gerard McBurney and the actor and director Simon McBurney.


  1. ^ a b c d Edited by G. N. Bailey, and Paul Callow. Stone Age Prehistory: Studies in Memory of Charles Mcburney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  2. ^ McBurney, C B. M. The Haua Fteah (Cyrenaica) and the Stone Age Culture of the South-East Mediterranean. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.
  3. ^ Callow, Paul, J M. Cornford, and C.B.M. McBurney. La Cotte De St. Brelade 1961-1978: Excavations by C. B. M. Mcburney. Norwich: Geo, 1986.
  4. ^ McBurney, C. B. M. Early Man in the Soviet Union: The Implications of Some Recent Discoveries. London: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1976.