Sunday 8 April 2018

Eggs and Eggmen

On my Mercian travels I came across this handsome memorial tablet in Southwell Minster. It commemorates a chap I'd never heard of, but his contribution to 'oology' (the scientific study of eggs) was indeed considerable. His huge collection of eggs was catalogued as the Ootecha Wolleyana and donated to the British Museum after his death. But, being a Victorian, he packed a great deal more than oology into his short life, travelling in Spain, Germany, Switzerland (where he climbed Mont Blanc), Arctic Lapland, Norway and Finland, studying law, then medicine, and taking a special interest in the Dodo and the Great Auk (as who wouldn't?). And then, in 1911, more than half a century after his early death, his admirers and relatives were moved to give him a fitting monument in the glorious surroundings of Southwell Minster. Incidentally, readers with any kind of interest in birds' eggs should read Tim Birkhead's brilliant book on the subject, The Most Perfect Thing.

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