Re-examining the contribution of Dr Robert Toope to knowledge in later seventeenth-century Britain
Was he more than just ‘Dr Took’?
in Communities and knowledge production in archaeology

This chapter presents a reflection and assessment of the life, career and work of the little-studied seventeenth-century physician and ‘Renaissance man’ Robert Toope. He is currently, perhaps, chiefly known for his correspondence on wide-ranging, eclectic, subjects with the likes of John Aubrey and Robert Boyle, together with later less-than-complimentary references by William Stukeley. The evidence suggests that the latter, albeit famous, observations were bafflingly unconsidered. Toope was more than merely a product of his time. He was clearly someone who was subject to periods of intense activity that had great influence on the work of his contemporaries and without which we would have far less understanding of the archaeological record of southern Britain. Yet, unlike many fellow antiquarians, for example, he did not publish his own observations, favouring perhaps the communication of such to other contemporary scholars. The chapter highlights the paradigmatic importance of going back to the original sources. It also serves to establish such facts as are known about Toope, correct some misinterpretations and introduce some new information in what is more than merely a nuanced biographical essay.

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