Maud Cunnington

Maud Edith Cunnington CBE (née Pegge; 24 September 1869 28 February 1951) was a Welsh-born archaeologist, most famous for her pioneering work on the prehistoric sites of Salisbury Plain.

Early life and education

Maud Pegge was born at Briton Ferry in Glamorgan to Catherine Milton Leach and her husband Charles Pegge, a doctor who ran Vernon House, the last privately owned asylum in Wales. She was one of seven children. Cunnington's older brother Edward followed his father as a doctor, and was also a notable rugby player and Welsh international. Maud was educated briefly at Cheltenham Ladies' College.[1]


From 1897, Maud carried out early Rescue archaeology work during development in the area but also carried out full excavations at some of the most important sites in British archaeology. These included the first known Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Knap Hil, the Iron age village at All Cannings Cross, West Kennet Long Barrow, Figsbury Ring, Woodhenge,[2] and The Sanctuary. This last monument she rediscovered as it had been lost since William Stukeley saw it in the eighteenth century. Woodhenge and The Sanctuary were bought by the Cunningtons and given to the nation.[3] In 1933, she was elected president of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, the first woman to hold that position.[4] In addition to technical reports, she published a short handbook, Avebury: A Guide (1931).[5]

Personal life

In 1889, Maud Pegge married Ben Cunnington who was the honorary curator of Devizes Museum. Their only son, Edward, was killed in the First World War. Cunnington was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1948 Birthday Honours[6] for services to archaeology, the first woman archaeologist to receive the honour. However, she was bedridden since 1947, and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, so she never knew of the accolade. When she died at home a few years later she left almost all her property (£14,000) to Devizes Museum, (now Wiltshire Heritage Museum) allowing a salaried curator to be appointed for the first time. Her husband had died a few months previously.[1]


  1. 1 2 Penelope Rundle, "Cunnington , Maud Edith (1869-1951" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
  2. Mike Parker Pearson, Stonehenge: A New Understanding: Solving the Mysteries of the Greatest Stone Age Monument (Workman Publishing 2014): 83-85. ISBN 9781615191932
  3. Timothy Darvill, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (Oxford University Press 2008). ISBN 9780191579042
  4. Sara Champion, "Women in British Archaeology: Visible and Invisible" in Margarita Diaz-Andreu and Marie Louise Stig Sorensen, eds., Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology (Routledge 2005): 177. ISBN 9781134727766
  5. Maud E. Cunnington, Avebury: A Guide (1931).
  6. The London Gazette: no. 38311. p. 3374. 10 June 1948.

Additional sources

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