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Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions: Museum of Archaeology Collections

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Museum of Archaeology Collections

The Museum of Archaeology collection covers nearly 250,000 years of human history and has over 25,000 objects.  

The collection developed over a number of years and includes finds from Victorian Antiquarian excavations, such as the 1880s excavations at Binchester, along with some archives from research excavations carried out by the University’s Department of Archaeology since the 1930s. There are also donations from members of the public and objects acquired through the 1996 Treasure Act.   

The bulk of the collection is from development-led projects. The Museum of Archaeology is the repository for archaeological archives from development-led projects for Durham City and local parishes. When there is new building work in Durham City, archaeology is often carried out and we are able find out more about the past. The collection includes objects from these excavations, as well as records, plans and photographs.   

Significant sites and collections  


  • Bishop Middleham Cave, 1930s excavation  
  • Tally-Ho-Gate, East Brandon 1900s excavation  
  • Fulforth Farm, Whitton Gilbert, 1990s excavations, includes a decorated cist slab and associated flints  
  • Gilmonby Bronze Age hoards   


  • Lanchester Diploma, the first complete Roman Fleet Diploma to be found in the country.  
  • Oswald-Plique Samian Collection, over 4,500 fragments of Samian pottery, which formed a reference for Oswald, F (1936) Figure Types on Terra Sigillata and Standfield, J, A & Simpson, G.  (1958) Central Gaulish Potters.  
  • Piercebridge River Assemblage, over 4,000 objects discovered by two divers from the River Tees. This is an important 2nd - 3rd century Romano-British votive site.   
  • Benwell Vallum Crossing, excavation by Eric Birley in the 1930s.  
  • Binchester Roman Fort, Victorian excavation by Revd. Hooppell.  

Medieval and Post Medieval  

  • Medieval Priors house at Beaurepaire, Bearpark 1980s excavation archive.  
  • 61-63 Saddler Street, Durham City 1970s excavation archive.  
  • Back Silver Street, Durham City 1970s excavation archive, significant Medieval organic material recovered.  
  • 18-29 Claypath 2010s excavation archive.  
  • Claypath 1990s excavation archive of note is the glass, which represents the largest assemblage of post-medieval domestic glass in the country.  
  • Leazes Bowl 1990s excavation archive, includes comprehensive assemblages of both medieval and post-medieval pottery and glass.  

If you would like to find out more about the collection, visit 

Photograph of some of the objects from the Bronze

Photograph of part of the Piercebridge River Assem

A glass bottle from the 1990s excavations on Clayp