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Collection Summary

Collection Title
Archaeology Collection
The Norwich Castle Archaeology Collection is the major and most comprehensive archaeological collection in East Anglia (Eastern England) assembled from 1825 to the present day. It received government recognition of its special status in 1998 and has been enriched by a number of objects declared Treasure in recent years. The collection is securely provenanced and very wide in scope, covering the material remains of the past from the early prehistoric period to more recent periods and reflecting life in the region over thousands of years. It includes single finds of antiquities and archives of contextually excavated assemblages from sites in Norfolk, together with the associated records. The interpretation of this material is essential to our understanding of Britain as a whole. Parts of the collection are on display at Norwich Castle Museum and the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth. Over 2000 separate individuals and organisations have found and collected the objects that make up the collection and over 4000 individuals and organisations have contributed

The Norwich Castle Archaeology Collection includes a large collection of worked flints (Palaeolithic to Bronze Age) providing representative assemblages for study. The Bronze Age metalwork is of special significance. The Iron Age collection includes artefacts of the Iceni tribe. Of national importance is the largest ever found assemblage of burial urns and cremated bones from the Saxon cemetery at Spong Hill, Norfolk. The early medieval collection is one of the best in the country. There are large collections from medieval Norwich, which are fundamental in understanding medieval urbanism. Coinage from the Iron Age onwards, including hoards, is well represented. There is a definitive reference collection of pottery made in, and found in, the area, and complete vessels are complemented by excavated pottery assemblages. The collection contains a small collection of foreign archaeology, including Egyptian material.

In addition to the objects, there is a large collection of excavation archives on paper, replicas and models. Thousands of individuals and organisations have found, collected and donated the objects that make up the collection. The collection is supported by a collection of 182 early 19th century watercolours and etchings of antiquities which form part of the fine art collection. And finally, the collection is underpinned by the largest Historic Environment Record (formerly known as Sites and Monuments Record) in the country.
  • 30500 individual artefacts, 3000 books and peridocials, plus 12000 boxes of bulk archaeology
Star Item(s)
'Spong Man'; Anglo Saxon cremation urn lid, Matlaske Reliquary
medieval finds from excavated Norwich sites, archives of excavated sites in Norfolk, representation of over 100 different pottery wares, 3500 cremation urns from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries
Date range of collection
-700000 - 1994
Accumulation Dates
1827 - 2006
Suggested Audience
general interest,primary education (age 4-11),secondary education (age 10-16),sixth form college,further education (age 16+),higher education,community education,research
Associated People or Organisations
Viewing the collection
Material not on display may be viewed by appointment, telephone the Access Officer, 01603 493640
Details also available

Location Details

Norwich Castle Museum And Art Gallery
Castle Meadow Norwich NR1 3JU United Kingdom
Open Map
+44 (0)1603 493625
+44 (0)1603 493623 
Building Information
Norwich Castle Museum, as its name suggests, is housed in the keep of the former Norman Castle which became a Victorian prison. Galleries were added to the keep in the 1890s when the building was converted into a museum. The Museum sits atop the Castle Mound, dominating the Norwich skyline and is reached by a medieval bridge or via a lift from the Castle gardens. Visitors can ascend to the battlements for a guided tour taking in a panoramic view of the city, and descend to the former dungeons. Adjoining the Castle Museum is the Shirehall Study Centre (former courthouse). Here, by appointment, collections can be explored in more depth and objects which are not on display can be visited.
Collections Overview
Norwich Castle, built by the Normans as a Royal Palace, was used as a prison from the 14th century and became Norfolk’s main museum in 1894. It has designated collections of fine and decorative art, archaeology and natural history and includes the best collections of paintings by the Norwich School of Artists and the world's largest collection of ceramic teapots. Search Norfolk Museums database and NOAH (Norfolk Online Access to Heritage) can be searched on-line for libraries, museums and record office. Currently, this includes the entire library catalogue, over 200,000 museum objects, about 16,000 digitised photographs, the index to over 23,000 local newspaper articles and over 63,000 archive records. For Stanger's Hall see Social History.
Display Overview
The Castle Keep has elaborate carvings in the stonework of the entrance, garderobes, fighting gallery, spiral stone staircase. Visitors can explore life in the Norman keep by touch screens, computer animation and a giant model of the keep. There are displays of when it was a prison with original graffiti. The keep also has displays of Norwich Silver, Norwich Civic Regalia, a re-creation of a medieval street scene, models of when it was being built and hands-on exhibits. There is an Anglo-Saxon and Viking Gallery, including a reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon grave site and a collection of jewellery; a Boudica Gallery with displays of Iceni treasure including gold torcs and a re-creation of an Iceni chariot; the Egyptian Gallery has an Egyptian tomb with mummies. The Fitch Room contains an eclectic collection of objects from the Ethnographic, Decorative Art and Archaeological collections, housed in Victorian wooden cabinets. The Art Galleries show 17th - 20th century paintings on show English watercolours, Dutch landscapes and modern British paintings including Norwich School artists. Look at Lowestoft porcelain, glass and English silver and Twinings Teapot Gallery with ceramic teapots. The Natural History Galleries are a favourite with families and include mounted birds and mammals and dioramas of Norfolk bird habitats.
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

Accrual Status
accrual policy : active, accrual method : deposit & purchase, accrual periodicity : irregular
Related Publications
Management Information (Type)
  • Museum.
  • PhysicalObject.
  • Library.
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
Collection Custodians(s)
Associated Collection(s)
  • Sub Collection: Numismatic Collection
  • Sub Collection: Archaeological brick and tile collection
  • Sub Collection: Archaeological model collection
  • Sub Collection: Finger Ring Collection (Archaeological)
  • Sub Collection: Foreign Archaeology Collection
  • Sub Collection: English Archaeology Collection
  • Sub Collection: Feltwell Romano-British Villa and Bath House Collection
  • Sub Collection: Thor\'s hammer amulet collection
  • Sub Collection: Hockwold Romano-British Temple Collection
  • Sub Collection: Watton hoard
  • Sub Collection: Hevingham hoard
  • Sub Collection: Broadland Archaeology Collection
  • Sub Collection: Hunstanton Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Musical instrument collection
  • Sub Collection: Thornham Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Harford Farm Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Sporle Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Egyptology Collection
  • Sub Collection: Local Treasure Collection
  • Sub Collection: Archaeology Library
  • Sub Collection: Bergh Apton Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Caistor St Edmund and Markshall Anglo-Saxon cemetery collection
  • Sub Collection: Thetford Archaeology Collection
  • Sub Collection: Beloe Collection
  • Sub Collection: Davison Collection
  • Sub Collection: Knocker Collection
  • Sub Collection: Savin Collection (archaeology)
  • Sub Collection: North Norfolk Archaeology Collection
  • Sub Collection: Apling Collection
  • Sub Collection: Coin Hoard Collection
  • Sub Collection: Commemorative Medal Collection
  • Sub Collection: Replica Collection (Archaeology and Numismatic)
  • Sub Collection: Bronze Age Collection
  • Sub Collection: Whiteplot Hoard
  • Sub Collection: Hackford Hoard
  • Related Collection: Archive Collection
  • Related Collection: Historic map and plan collection
  • Related Collection: Fitch Collection
  • Related Collection: Manuscript Collection

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