Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Museums With Roman Collections in the UK

Many museums throughout the United Kingdom have displays an exhibits of Roman artefacts. These range from local, site museums that showcase artefacts found on the site they are associated with, to regional museums that exhibit a more regional perspective of the Roman period. These regional museums are often repositories for artefacts recovered during archaeological excavations of nearby sites. A number of museums also have collections and exhibitions of Roman artefacts from other parts of the Roman Empire. 

Abingdon County Hall Museum

Situated within an ornate Baroque building constructed between 1678 and 1682, Abingdon County Hall Museum contains a range of permanent and temporary exhibits on local history. Built by a protégé of Christopher Wren, the structure was designed as a town hall and courtroom before being converted into a museum in 1919. Its archaeological and historical collections range from the prehistoric to the modern and include a replica of the famous Viking Age “Abingdon Sword.” Owned by Abingdon Town Council, entry is free.

Amersham Museum

A local museum with a large collection of objects that relate to the history of the area, that ranges from palaeontological fossils to the not so distant past of Amersham. There are archaeological displays of Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age objects, as well as various artefacts from the Roman period. The museum occupies an original Tudor hall house – a half timbered house built in the 15th century. The museum has just re-opened to the public after substantial renovation.

Ashmolean Museum

Established in 1683 and with an international reputation, the Ashmolean Museum is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology. Having started life as the private collection of Elias Ashmole, who then donated it to the university, it was the world’s second university museum to open. The present building was erected in the 1840s and renovated in the 2000s. Its collections are diverse, comprising material from ancient Egypt to early medieval England, and contain many famous objects, like the Alfred Jewel and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask.

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is housed in a glorious Edwardian building and contains 19 galleries across 3 floors. The exhibitions comprise natural history, art, archaeology and geology from around the world. The ground floor contains the Archaeology and World Cultures collections, with a play and learn space for under 7’s. The first floor ‘wows’ with geology, dinosaur and wildlife galleries – the second floor hosts art galleries.

Corinium Museum

An award-wining museum in the centre of Cirencester that displays the archaeology of the Cotswolds. From Prehistoric, Stone Age tools to Roman mosaics, from Anglo Saxon grave goods to Medieval sculpture. The museum takes its name from what the Roman called Cirencester. As the second largest town in Roman Britain, the Corinium Museum has one of the largest and finest collections of Roman antiquities in England, in particular an exquisite collection of 4th century CE mosaic floors.

Dorset County Museum

The Dorset County Museum is an independent museum that is owned by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society. Over 2 million objects tell the story of 250 million years of Dorset’s history, from geology and palaeontology, to archaeology and history. Notable collections include prehistoric and Roman artefacts excavated at Maiden Castle and the world’s largest collection of artefacts relating to the 19th century Dorset-born writer Thomas Hardy. Many other writers and artists are represented in the collection.

Lynn Museum, King's Lynn

A local history museum, with displays about West Norfolk from prehistory to the recent past. There are two exhibition halls. In the first is the Bronze Age Seahenge – a replica and some of the prehistoric timbers tell the story of this extraordinary site found in 1998. The second is a converted Union Baptist Chapel built in 1859. Here you will find a fascinating collection of objects from the Iron Age to more recent periods. These include a hoard of Iceni gold coins to Victorian fairground gallopers.

National Roman Legion Museum

Located in the Roman city of Caerleon, the National Roman Legion Museum explores the world of the Roman Army, with particular focus on the everyday lives of soldiers stationed in Britain. The museum’s collection includes over half a million objects, primarily those excavated from the Roman forts at Caerleon and Usk. As well as part of a reconstructed Roman barracks, the museum boasts a garden containing plants that would have been familiar to people living in Roman Britain. A range of special events take place throughout the year.

Newport Museum and Art Gallery

Founded in 1888, the Newport Museum and Art Gallery displays a range of artefacts pertaining to the heritage of Newport and its surrounding area. With over 60,000 objects in its collection, it tells the story of this region from the Palaeolithic through to recent centuries. Much of its material derives from the Romano-British period, when there was a substantial Roman military presence in this part of Wales. The museum also boasts a nationally important collection of material pertaining to the Chartists, a militant workers’ movement of the 1830s and 1840s.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

The museum has over 80,000 artefacts of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology, telling the story of life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through Pharaonic Egypt, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period. The international importance of the museum’s collection lies in the vast range of objects, all from documented excavations of archaeological sites. But, this is not just a vast collection, it also has a number of significant pieces, including one of the oldest pieces of linen from Egypt.

Reading Museum

The Reading Museum began in 1883 when a collector donated his private museum, a collection of objects from around the world, to Reading. Since then the Museum has grown and come to focus on the natural and social history of the local area. Of particular note is the Silchester Gallery, a collection of artefacts excavated from the Roman town of Silchester, including the famous Silchester eagle. The museum has a large collection of artefacts from West and South Africa, North America and South America and South East Asia.

Redbourn Village Museum

With artefacts, maps and pictures ranging from the Stone Age to the 19th century, the museum tells the history of the small Hertfordshire village of Redbourn. The museums is housed in what was a former 19th century Silk Mill manager’s house, that was in the 1940s converted into Brooke Bond’s tea and coffee packaging factory – one of the largest in the country. A Victorian parlour from 1900, Redbourn Priory and the Redbourn House Portico are some of the highlights of this charming local history museum.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Founded as a memorial to Prince Albert, this award-winning museum is one of the finest regional museums in the United Kingdom. Exhibits trace all aspects of Exeter’s and Devon’s history, from more recent times all the way back to the early geological past. Through a series of ingeniously created self-guided tours, from birds to gardens, art to architecture, and of course World War 2, visitors are able to extend their exploration of the wide ranging collections into the city.

Rutland County Museum

Located in an 18th century riding school, Rutland County Museum opened in 1969. It contains collections centered on local archaeology (including Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts) and agricultural life in the county, with many farming implements and craftsman’s tools, tractors, and ploughs on display. More macabre is the original portable gallows, from which condemned criminals were hanged. Of particular note is the ornate 13th century Brooke Reliquary, discovered at Brooke Priory.

Sir John Soane's Museum

Sir John Soane was a neo-classical architect active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, best known for designing the Dulwich Picture Gallery in southeast London. Soane’s house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, central London, was largely designed by himself, and displays his collections of art and antiquities. At his death he requested his house remain as he left it and it remains a museum to this day. Among the ancient artefacts is the sarcophagus of Seti I, bronzes from Pompeii and Peruvian ceramics.