Alexander Thom

Biography of Alexander Thom

Alexander Thom's matriculation slip (1914-1915)
Alexander Thom's matriculation slip (1914-1915)

Alexander Thom, Engineer, Archaeologist and Aerodynamicist, was born on the 26th March 1894 in Carradale, Kintyre.

He was a student at the Royal Technical College, a forerunner of the University of Strathclyde, where he was awarded a Diploma in Civil Engineering in 1914. The College lacked the power to award degrees but under a scheme of affiliation with the University of Glasgow, Science and Engineering students who wished to obtain a degree could do so by matriculating and taking some of their classes at the University.

He matriculated at the University of Glasgow when he was 20 years old, for the session of 1914-1915, as an Associate of the Royal Technical College. During this year he took classes in Engineering, Laboratory drawing, Astronomy and Natural Philosophy before graduating Bsc from the University on 20 April 1915.

His year at the University was extremely successful and he was awarded several prizes including the George Harvey and Walker Prizes for Engineering; Class Prizes for his Senior Engineering Laboratory class and for his Level three and four Engineering classes; and a First-class certificate in Astronomy.

Thom returned to University in 1921, when he was appointed as a lecturer in Engineering and Aeronautics, and held the Carnegie Teaching Fellowship in Engineering from 1927- 1931. He obtained his PhD from the University on 23 June 1926, followed by his D.Sc in April 1929, his thesis explored ‘Experimental and Theoretical Investigations on Fluid Flow in two Dimensions’. In 1945 Thom was elected Professor of Engineering science at Oxford and a fellow of Brasenose College, retiring in 1961.

From around the 1930s Thom became interested in the study of megalithic structures and their links to astronomy. Thom wrote many influential papers and books on the subjects and as such he is often cited as the founder of archaeoastronomy.

He was a member of the British Astronomical Association, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

In 1960 he received an honorary LLD from the University of Glasgow and a DSc in 1976 from the Strathclyde University.


Alexander Thom
Born 26 March 1894, Scotland.
University Link: Graduate
GU Degrees: BSc, 1915; LLD, 1960;
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol. 3)
Record last updated: 13th Jul 2017

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