Peterborough has a rich and significant archaeological history.
Our collection includes nationally important artefacts from key sites telling the story of human settlement from Palaeolithic (over 200,000 years old) to the present day.
Highlights of the collection include stunning items of Nene Valley Ware, from local Roman pottery industries, which were traded throughout England, and a wonderful, rare Iron Age sword.
The collection also has replicas of the locally found Water Newton treasure, the oldest Christian church silver known anywhere in the Roman Empire.
Not forgetting the fine grave goods from Anglo-Saxon burials, and even Britain’s oldest known murder victim from Neolithic times!
The archaeological collection and archive is still growing as new building developments uncover further remains around the Peterborough area.
The Flag Fen archive is an important prehistroic collection of artefacts, encompassing find from excavations across the Flag Fen basin. The Flag Fen site itself was discovered in 1982 by archaeologist Francis Pryor, following a series of digs at nearby Fengate. Among the timbers of the 1km long causeway and 2.5 acre platform, made 3,500 years ago, over 300 objects and many high status and valuable items have been found. Some of these items can be seen on-site during Flag Fen's open season, including weapons, jewellery and tools.
The first time a recognisable town was established in the Peterborough area was by the Romans, nearly 2,000 years ago. Named Durobrivae, it was a substantial town which grew up alongside the busy highway of Ermine Street - now located near Castor. The town prospered as a place of trade and industry, including pottery production. Despite very little of the site having been excavated, many objects have been discovered from Durobrivae. Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery displays some of this rich collection, including Nene Valley Ware pottery and replicas of the Water Newton Treasure (the originals are housed in The British Museum).
Star Object: Iron Age Sword
During the Iron Age, Britain was not a single nation, but a collection of different tribes and kingdoms. This is a very fine example dating from the 1st century BC. Found at Orton Longueville, it had been deposited in a river as an offering. The sword would have belonged to an important person such as a king.