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Robert Plot

  Robert Plot (13 December 1640–April 30 1696) was an English naturalist, first Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum.

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Born in Borden, Kent, Plot is known for looking for natural curiosities in several English counties, and for writing Natural History of Oxfordshire in which he described the fossilised femur of a giant (now known to be from the dinosaur Megalosaurus) and Natural History of Staffordshire, in which he describes a double sunset1, and also reported the existence of a long-forgotten network of underground tunnels. According to the book, the entrance to these long-forgotten caves was discovered by a farm workman who, while digging a trench, discovered a large iron plate beneath the earth. The hatch was large and oval, with an iron ring mounted on it [1]. Whether or not the tunnels exist, the story has become part of a worldwide urban legend of interconnected subterranean cities.

In 1677 he became a fellow of the Royal Society as a result of his exhibition of minerals, and in 1682 became the society's Secretary, and joint editor of the Philosophical Transactions. In the field of chemistry he searched for a universal solvent that could be obtained from wine spirits, and believed that alchemy was necessary for medicine. After 1686 Plot focused more on archaeology, but misinterpreted Roman remains as Saxon. He stressed the unusual; he studied echoes in order to learn about air, mineral waters, and recognised types of earth in layers, but believed that fossil shellfish were coincidental mineral crystallisations, and that some spring water must originate from the sea flowing through underground channels.

Plot died in Borden, the village of his birth.


  • Note 1: Dr. Plot and the Amazing Double Sunset.. Retrieved on 27 March, 2005.
  • Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Linda Hall Library. Retrieved on 27 March, 2005.
  • Robert Plot. Oxford Museum of Natural History. Retrieved on 27 March, 2005.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Robert_Plot". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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