We are pleased to publish on www.clarencebicknell.com a definitive paper on the work of Clarence Bicknell on the rock engravings of the Vallée des Merveilles. The paper by Louis Barral and Suzanne Simone was published in the Bulletin du Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique de Monaco N°.31 in 1988. Both the French and English versions have been made available to us by the same museum with thanks to its director Jérôme Magail.
The paper contains the praise for Clarence, which Chippindale and others have picked up, as follows: “Presently, we must note that the classification into categories, classes, topics of C. Bicknell (1885) is as good (after some days of work) as the present one, after a century of research.” ("Christopher Chippindale et d’autres archaeologues ont attire l’attention sur le fait que Bicknell a fait un travail de classification des gravures rupestres aussi bon que ce qui a suivi dans les 100 ans depuis.").
It is also touching that the paper, which was originally published in English, is sub-titled "Homage to C. Bicknell". All the more fitting that we can publish it in this his centenary year.
Graham Avery wrote to me on the day I published this blog and the articles as follows:
"But the reference to 'C. Bicknell (1885)' is an error: it was not until 1897 that Clarence became interested in the rock engravings, and his publication mentioned at the end of the article (page 104) dates from 1913. It's misleading to say that his classification was the result of 'some days of work': his book of 1913 was the result of 15 years' work. Maybe these are errors of translation from the original French into English."
...and a day later:
"I think the only rational explanation is that 'C. Bicknell (1885)' at page 95 is a simple error for 'C. Bicknell (1913)' which is the publication quoted at page 104 of the article. The source of this error may be page 94 of the article which says (in terrible English):
‘This census, realizable only when the snow is molten (end of june to end of october), was carried out, with worthiness (because this exciting work is inseparable of adjoining servitudes: long walkings, glacial nights, lack of groceries), by: C. Bicknell, the discoverer, who has recorded 14,000 carvings since 1885 to 1918’.
It’s true, of course, that Clarence began his recording in 1885, and perhaps the authors of the article transposed that date erroneously to page 95. In fact Clarence published nothing about the rock figures until:
Bicknell (1898) Le figure incise sulle rocce di Val Fontanalba (23 pages)
Bicknell (1899) Osservazioni ulteriori sulle incisioni rupestri in Val Fontanalba (8 pages)
Bicknell (1902) The prehistoric rock engravings in the Italian Maritime Alps (74 pages)
In the 1902 book (page 18) he recounted his visit to the Meraviglie in 1885, and added 'I was far from satisfied with my visit, and in 1897 resolved to go there again'. If he had actually written something after his earlier visit, he would surely have mentioned it."