New Stone Age to Corinium galleries at Corinium Museum in Cirencester set to open this weekend

Corinium Museum – Replica of an Iron Age Roundhouse

New galleries are set to open at Corinium Museum in Cirencester on 5th December 2020. The award-winning museum, renowned for its Roman Cirencester collections and exhibits, is travelling further back in time and launching ‘Stone Age to Corinium’ galleries.

Amanda Hart, Museum Director comments, “Corinium Museum has a new beginning! Wow! This truly marks the fruition of six years of sheer hard work, and over £1.87 million investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund money, donations and sponsorships. I have lived and breathed this project, from the initial idea, through seeking support, and to now be able to launch – it’s fantastic news! I had a vision to ensure the Museum is in the best possible place – to be an award-winning attraction, a community hub and centre for learning, and to help drive the economic development of the area. Our summer launch plans had to be put on hold but I am now delighted that my team and I are forging ahead with the opening of Stone Age to Corinium. And now it’s time for everyone to come and see this remarkable collection.”

Launch plans

Jenny Forde, Councillor, Cotswold District Council adds, “We are right behind Amanda and her team’s vision to ensure Corinium Museum is the very best in its field. Supporting this project throughout a pandemic has made us all realise how important our heritage and history is to our sense of community and place. The museum looks fantastic and the new galleries are stunning, I’m so excited for people to see the end result!”

Corinium Museum – Hare Gallery (4) (4)

Amanda continues, “It’s quite incredible to be able to tell the story of archaeology in the Cotswolds from the Stone Age through to early Corinium – Roman Cirencester. That’s hundreds of thousands of years of Cotswold history in our stunning new gallery space.”

Over 600 fascinating objects and artefacts charting early Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age through to early Roman times, are now exhibited in modern, airy and interactive galleries.

Highlights of ‘Stone Age to Corinium’

Discover the archaeology of the Cotswolds and get up close and personal with objects that are hundreds of thousands of years old.

Long Barrows were Stone Age burial mounds and are evidence of the first – known stone constructions in the Cotswolds. A burial chamber has been carefully and painstakingly created within the exhibition with a virtual fly through showing you what it would have looked like in Neolithic times.

The Beaker culture arrived with a group of travellers from Europe during the late Neolithic-early Bronze Age and is marked by people buried in individual graves. Beaker vessels were used as grave-goods along with stone, gold and bronze objects. Two examples were discovered on the edge of Cirencester, and one is now exhibited in the new collection. What is remarkable is that this female was buried with a cow’s hide – a rare find, as mostly these types of burials are male. This skeleton has also revealed fascinating facts about her life, and the skeleton, beaker (reconstructed as part of this project) can all be seen and the story heard.

Corinium Museum – Beaker Burial (2) (2)

An incredible Iron Age enamelled bronze owl face used to decorate a horse’s harness, and remarkably the enamel inlay in red and light blue can still be seen clearly, even though it is over 2,000 years old.

Two early Roman era military tombstones to honour cavalrymen are preserved to this day. There is a film projection inlay which may well give you goose bumps as it shows the colours it might have been painted in Roman times.

What else will you find at the Corinium Museum?

The new Museum entrance leads you to the welcome desk which doubles as Cirencester’s Visitor Information Centre

The Winstone Learning Centre in the Grade II-listed part of the Museum has been redeveloped to become a modern Discovery Centre with displays and facilities for schools, groups and available to hire

The new gift shop with a large range of unique gift ideas and the Café and Garden, in collaboration with Jacks and Relish also the new art gallery with an artist exhibition every six/eight weeks

Amanda concludes, “‘Stone Age to Corinium’ will create a museum that is relevant to today’s communities, maximising on the building spaces, enhancing the visitor journey through reinterpretation and improved access, and working with new partners to produce a vibrant programme of archaeology-related events and activities. It’s the tiniest and most fragile of everyday objects that excite and delight me the most, and I cannot wait to show you. We hope this launch brings much-needed good news to the Cotswolds at the end of 2020! Why not discover even more archaeology today? Oh, and don’t forget to visit the existing main galleries too – hundreds of thousands of history and stories all in one Museum – it is truly world class.”