Monday, 29 February 2016
Trowelblazers - Lady Mary Bailey
She's better known as a pioneering pilot, but her skills with an aircraft also made her a trailblazer in archaeology. In association with Gertrude Caton-Thompson and Elinor Wight Gardner, in 1931, she flew over the area where they were digging at Kharga Oasis in Egypt, taking arial photographs from her DH 80a Puss Moth. Gertrude and Elinor had improvised a landing strip for her by watering the sand, and walking camels round the edge to mark out the area.
In fact, this was one of the first times that arial photographs were used in archaeology. Gertrude Caton-Thompson had previously got the assistance of the South African Air Force, who flew over Great Zimbabwe for her to take photographs of the site. Gertrude had flown with Major Wynne-Eyton herself, to identify archaeological remains, and she and Elinor also flew with Lady Mary.