We have the honour to publish today a fascinating new paper by our Association's Vice-Chairman and most active researcher Graham Avery on a subject which had not been studied in the past.
Fritz Mader was a geographer and natural historian who had a significant influence on the course of Clarence Bicknell's life. It was a letter sent to him in 1897 by Mader that triggered the passion for exploration of the rock figures that occupied him for much of the rest of his life. Without Mader, Graham argues, it is likely that Bicknell would not have been a pioneer in the study of the prehistoric rock engravings in the Maritime Alps.
Our image, right, shows the page which
Clarence dedicated to Mader in his
Book of Guests at the Casa Fontanalba,
all in in Esperanto
Here is how Clarence describes the tip-off from Mader which changed the course of his career...
‘In 1897 I heard that a house in Val Casterino, belonging to Signor Pellegrino of Tenda, was to be let, and I took it for the summer, partly with the intention of botanizing, but partly with that of seeing more of the rock figures of the Meraviglie, which had from the first greatly fascinated me. About the end of June I wrote to the Secretary of the Italian Alpine Club to ask if he could give me any information about the works already published on the Meraviglie, and he referred me to Dr. Fritz Mader, an Associate who had a thorough knowledge of the Maritime Alps, and who spent his summers in Tenda. It was then, through the full and courteous reply to a letter that I wrote to Dr. Mader, that we first heard of there being inscriptions in the valley near us, and we immediately went up to search for ourselves. I had, only a few weeks previously, been up the Val Fontanalba for the first time with a nephew. We passed over a number of smooth yellow rocks, and I remember observing that they were exactly like those at the Meraviglie, but intent on looking for plants, I noticed no figures, though I now know that I must have passed close to many’.
(page 40 of Clarence's A guide to the prehistoric rock engravings in the Italian Maritime Alps, Bordighera, 1913.)
Who was Fritz Mader? Read Graham's paper in full at
Left: Another page from Clarence's diary in which he refers to a 6.20 start with Mader and one other for an expedition up the Val Fontanalba
Right: A post card of the Cima Bicknell, 2,686m., which Fritz Mader named after Clarence Bicknell