George W. G. Allen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Major George W. G. Allen (1891–1940) pioneered aerial photography for the purpose of archaeological research.

Born in Oxford on 12 January 1891, the eldest son of John Allen (1857-1934), George Allen was educated at Boxgrove School, Guildford, and Clifton College, he attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, but as he was not able to get into the Royal Engineers he left to become an engineer as a civilian, and worked for Humphreys and Sons, consulting engineers as a waterworks engineer on the East Coast of Africa, before becoming a manager of his father's company. During the First World War he served in the Royal Tank Corps and was awarded the Military Cross, re-joining his father's company after the war.

Aerial photography of archaeological sites[edit]

In 1929 he learned to fly and purchased a red De Havilland Puss Moth, which he named Maid of the Mist, the first privately owned aeroplane in Oxford, which he kept at his own airfield at Clifton Hampden. Piloting his aircraft and using a hand‐made camera, he made aerial pictures mostly taken between 1933 and 1938 of known, and previously unknown, unrecorded archaeological sites.

He took about 2000 photographs, mostly oblique, taken from an altitude of only 300–450 metres, a contribution that enabled interpretation by O. G. S. Crawford[1] of archaeological sites in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Kent, Somerset, Hertfordshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire, but most especially in Oxfordshire.[2]

In 1936 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

He was killed in a motor‐cycle accident in November 1940.

After his death, his camera and photographs were given to the Ashmolean Museum.


  1. ^ Barber, Martyn (2015) "Crawford in 3-D: the stereoscope in early aerial archaeology" in AARGnews: The newsletter of the Aerial Archaeology Research Group, Number 51 September 2015, 32–47
  2. ^ Allen, G. W. G., Riley, D. N., Bradford, J. S. P., & Crawford, O. G. S. (1984). Discovery from the air. East Dereham: Aerial Archaeology Publications.