The Ancient World

We can look at the Ancient World as a whole with our expanded collection of artefacts, many of which are extremely unusual finds in a handling collection. We look at the origins of Greek culture and explore the dominance of Rome in Britain and Western Europe.

Minoan pot sherds.

These artefacts had already been in this country for nearly a century by the time they came to us, but had been languishing in a private collection. Newly researched and labelled, they can now help people who see our shows learn about this fascinating culture, which flourished long before the ancient Greeks.

Ancient Greek arrowheads from Sicily.

Evidence of Greek habitation and colonisation is widespread throughout the Meditteranean. This item dates from around 500BC and is part of our new Ancient Greece display.

Roman Brooches (North Wiltshire)

These items show the great craftsmanship in Roman Jewelry. They also help us to tell important stories about the Romans in Wiltshire.

Roman Provincial Coin

A rare find in Britain, these coins were minted to satisfy demand for coinage in the various provinces of the empire. This example, with its inscription in Greek, may have been from the Greek mainland or modern-day Turkey. 

Battlefield Relics from the Teutoberg Forest battle (9 AD)


In AD 9 a three-legion strong Roman army was ambushed, routed and mostly destroyed near the Teutoberger forests in Germany, not far from modern Kalkreise. The Commander, Varus, had trusted a Romanized German to guide his force to the site of a rebellion in order to show force and crush it before it spread. His trust was misplaced. The rebellion was a fabrication. The guide, Arminius, led Varus and most of his men to their death in a carefully prepared ambush. In their haste to escape the carnage, men shed their kit. Among the items dropped were these two nails, presumably used in the construction of camps after the day's march. We are fortunate to be able to date these finds so precisely.

Amulet in shape of Phallus

Despite modern sensibilities, the Phallus was a prevelant symbol in most walks of Roman life. The symbolism can be seen repeated in many other ancient civilisations, including pre-columbian South American cultures. This lead example may have been worn around the neck of its owner, to encourage fertility.


Pottery Sherds

These lovely pieces span several lengths. Firstly, they span the age of the collection and include one of our first pieces and some of our most recent. Secondly, they span a substantial length of time and geography within the Roman Empire.

Blue Glass dish fragments

Roman blue glass sherds, probably from a dish, Salisbury UK. These items probably date from the mid 1st Century AD when items of Roman glassware began to circulate in great numbers in Southern Britain. The tradition of using bold primary colours in glass making had largely been replaced by clearer glass wares by the 2nd Century AD. this glass is Dichroic, meaning that its colours change depending on the light. lit from the front it is dark blue, but lit from behind it appears light green. the Lycurgus cup in the British Museum is a famous example of this style.


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