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Archaeology

Three neolithic axes

The archaeology collection consists of material from sites within Northampton and the surrounding county.

These include Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in the Nene Valley; the Iron Age hillfort at Hunsbury; a roman settlement at Duston; an Anglo-Saxon settlement; and later medieval town with religious organisations and a significant medieval royal castle. The collection features objects from the site of a battle during the Wars of the Roses and the key battle site at Naseby which decided the English Civil War. The material dates from pre-history to 1940 CE.

The collection is open to donations of individual objects. Our collecting is governed by a policy, which helps to ensure that the collection is relevant to visitors.

Donate to the collection

How the collection started

The collection was started around 1840 and was driven by passionate individuals who were interested in local archaeology. Henry Dryden, one of the key founders of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, purchased material from George Baker's extensive historical and archaeological collection and promised it to the new museum. In 1883 Thomas J. George, the museum keeper, collected material associated with Northampton’s early history including roman finds from Duston and pottery, weapons, and jewellery from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. This set the scene for collecting through excavations and fieldwork which has continued ever since. Urban development and the growth of Northampton from 1950 onwards has led to excavations which have helped our understanding of medieval Northampton. In recent years the collection has developed through metal detectorist finds reported to the Portable Antiquities scheme.

Portable Antiquities scheme

Key objects from the collection

Key objects within the collection include a Jewish tombstone from the medieval synagogue site, the Roman bust of emperor Lucius Verres, medieval carved stone from Northampton Castle and other medieval religious sites, a lead torc from a mysterious iron age burial, and finds from the hillfort at Hunsbury.

Where to see the archaeology collection

History of Northampton Gallery 1, at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, displays archaeology from the earliest people in Northampton until 1647.

History of Northampton Gallery 1

Our online archaeological resources include key objects on display in the History of Northampton Gallery 1.

Key objects from Northampton Gallery 1

Archaeology collections are also included in our online resources.

Online resources Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

Online resources Abington Park Museum

Research or enquire about the archaeology collection

We welcome access to the collection through research visits, viewings and correspondence.

Research or enquire about the collection