We’re spoiled for history here in the West Midlands. Probably all of the UK is spoiled for history, fine, yes, all right, but I feel particularly luxurious in thousands of years of history, art, architecture, or even just plain dirt which just lazes around us waiting to be tripped over and admired. Without giving it any more thought than “I heard this was cool” we made our way down to the Corinium Museum in Cirencester one weekend day, and I promptly fell in to an amazed drooling history coma. (Did I mention I have a minor in classics and a major in medieval and renaissance studies? Living here is like being on crack.)
The museum building itself is understated, and fits in gently with the old cotswold buildings surrounding it in Cirencester. (How do you pronounce Cirencester? “Just as it looks” I was told. Yeah, right. It’s: Siren-sesster)
The museum is online and — SUGAR HONEY ICED TEA — so is nearly the entire collection. So that means if you are wandering along visiting the galleries — ladeedah — and turn a corner and are gobsmacked by a rather fabulous Orpheus Mosaic, which you studied in college and you are so shocked you can only take crappy photos:
… Then you can just look it up later online.
The information about daily living among the Celt tribes in the area — like the Dobunni — and the day-to-day discipline and brutality of the Roman army were fairly lively and certainly created an emotional response. History alive! Also, horses in hallways!
Seriously, there is an exhibit letting you sniff mystery foodstuffs. Don’t do it.
Take a stroll in the small Roman garden. It’s no Getty Villa, but it does have the advantage of authentic placement.
Of course I was fond of this sweetly breastfeeding mother and child:
Corpses. You know how I love corpses. This is a wealthy Anglo-Saxons lady, buried in Butler’s Field, Lechlade — and part of a fantastic exhibit complete with amazing computer models and gobs of living-history details.
The museum moves on through wool trade and monasteries and even to the Civil War and this hoard of coins — one of the ‘Ten Treasures‘ of the museum. My kids are convinced if they can kick over the right stone in the right spot, they’ll be rich.
There’s too much amazingness at the museum to capture it, so I didn’t try — I spent most of the day dazedly wandering from object to object — when I wasn’t chasing down my completely engaged children. A day spent walking through 2000 years of history, all focused on one small corner of the world and the rise and fall of people who lived there — what could be better?