Unsolved:Wiltshire Museum

From HandWiki

[ ⚑ ] 51°20′59″N 1°59′37″W / 51.3498°N 1.9935°W / 51.3498; -1.9935

Short description: Archaeology Museum, History museum in Wiltshire, England
Wiltshire Museum
Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Potterne Road, Devizes - geograph.org.uk - 1022996.jpg
Established1873 (1873)
LocationLong Street, Devizes, Wiltshire, England
TypeArchaeology Museum, History museum
DirectorDavid Dawson
CuratorLisa Brown

The Wiltshire Museum, formerly known as Wiltshire Heritage Museum and Devizes Museum, is a museum, archive and library and art gallery established in 1874 in Devizes, Wiltshire, England. The museum was created and is run by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, a registered charity founded in 1853.

The society bought a former grammar school on Long Street, south of the town's market place, to house the museum. It later expanded into two Georgian houses on either side, and still occupies these premises today.[1]

The museum maintains a collection covering the archaeology, art, history and natural history of Wiltshire. The collection covers periods of history from as far back as the Palaeolithic and also has Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman, Saxon, Mediaeval and more recent historical artefacts.[2] Among the prehistoric collections are items from the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.[3] Several of the collections have been designated as being a significant part of England's cultural heritage.[3]

One of the most important collections at the museum is the finds from Bush Barrow, an early Bronze Age burial mound in the Stonehenge area. The barrow was excavated by William Cunnington in 1808 and produced the richest and most important finds from a Bronze Age grave in the Stonehenge Landscape to date. The finds were acquired by the museum in 1883 and were displayed there until 1922, when they were indefinitely loaned to the British Museum. After a controversial restoration of the largest piece that may not reflect its original finish, the pieces were returned to Devizes in 1985.[4]

The natural history collection includes remains of a plesiosaur called Bathyspondylus found at Swindon in 1774. Bathyspondylus swindoniensis was first described in 1982 from the museum's specimens.[5]


Since 2013, a permanent exhibition Gold from the Time of Stonehenge displays 30 pieces of Early Bronze Age gold, including the Bush Barrow finds.[6]

The museum held a major exhibition of works by Eric Ravilious titled Eric Ravilious: Downland Man from September 2021 until January 2022. It featured loans from a number of institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Towner Gallery, as well as works from private collections.[7][8]

Future premises

Since 2018, there has been an intention to relocate the museum to the former Assize Court building in the northwest quarter of Devizes town centre. The 1835 building with a tall central portico in Grecian style[9] lay unused after the closure of the court in the 1980s, until it was bought in 2018 by a charity, the Devizes Assize Court Trust, with financial help from the Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust and a local benefactor.[10] Plans include the creation of galleries and space for community events, as well as repair and conservation of the Grade II* listed building.[11]

In June 2023, Wiltshire Museum received £300,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to enable the museum – working closely with the Assize Court Trust – to develop plans for the project before applying for a full National Lottery grant in 2025.[12]

See also


  1. "About Wiltshire Museum". Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. https://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/about-us/. 
  2. Crooks, Jill (23 March 2009). "Wiltshire museum bids to shed stuffy image". http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/headlines/4225172.Wiltshire_museum_bids_to_shed_stuffy_image/. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Designated Collections 2008" (PDF) (Press release). The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. July 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  4. Caple, Chris (2000). Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making. Routledge. ISBN 0415188814. 
  5. "Plesiosauria Translation and Pronunciation Guide at dinosauria.com". http://www.dinosauria.com/dml/names/ples.html. 
  6. "Stonehenge period gold on display at Wiltshire Heritage Museum". 14 October 2013. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-24519846. 
  7. Museum, Wiltshire. "Eric Ravilious: Downland Man" (in en-GB). https://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/ravilious/. 
  8. Russell, James (2021). Eric Ravilious : Downland man. Eric William Ravilious, David Dawson. Devizes: Wiltshire Museum. ISBN 978-0-947723-17-0. OCLC 1281898495. https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1281898495. 
  9. Historic England. "Law Courts and County Police Office (1251744)". National Heritage List for England. https://HistoricEngland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1251744. 
  10. "Assize Court, Devizes - saved at last!". 26 November 2018. http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/assize-court-devizes-saved-at-last. 
  11. "Our plans" (in en-GB). https://devizesassizecourt.org.uk/our-plans. 
  12. "Major step towards revitalising Devizes Assize Court as the new home of Wiltshire Museum" (in en-GB). 2023-06-27. https://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/news-articles/major-step-towards-revitalising-devizes-assize-court-as-the-new-home-of-wiltshire-museum/. 

External links