Day out: Corinium Museum

12 Jan

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.


That’s not normal.

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!

Who would like some lovely fermented fish sauce?  Anyone?  Anyone?

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.

The museum is hugely child friendly.  There are games and puzzles everywhere, mutlimedia displays and plenty to touch and do … even this happy corner for reading and playing.

Fancy a game of Tabula?

My kids spent almost an hour reading, listening, and watching the movies in this display of roman tomstones.

He’s less than the size of a penny.

Of course I was fond of this sweetly breastfeeding mother and child:

Moving on from the Roman Britain area of the museum, there’s still so much to see.

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?


8 Responses to “Day out: Corinium Museum”

  1. Sarah January 12, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    I swear to you, you are going to start bumping into me and my family in these places, to which you will query, “Oh! Hello! How did you hear about this [place/museum/park]?” to which I will respond, “Oh, just from some blog I read. It’s written by this amazing, funny, quirky, delicious woman I once knew. Well, er…. I don’t know if she’s delicious, by MY GAWD, woman, you sure SMELL delicious! What were you cooking today?!”

    Promise me you’ll venture to Fountains Abbey and Avebury one day and write about them. They are two of my most favorite-est places yet. But I haven’t seen nearly as much as you have.

    • Monique January 13, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      I will go anywhere you recommend, and if you ever see someone with a pink camera taking photos of ridiculous things and saying ‘look children, corpses!’ you’ll know it’s me. You’re a good bit of my inspiration, I seem to remember you have some great touring photos. 😉 And fabulous baked goods of your own.

  2. Zazzy January 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    I want to come live there for a few years. It sounds like such an incredible place with so much history to explore. I don’t think you can get to know a place by just visiting so I’m just going to have to move there.

    • Monique January 13, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      lol, yes, come on over! It is gorgeous. I sometimes wonder how I can manage to drive around without being too distracted by ruins and palaces and churches … and sweet shops and tea rooms. 😉 No deserts though, and no vast wide spaces. Plenty to love and plenty to miss.

  3. Jenny January 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    This is one of the things I love most about living in the UK- so much amazing history everywhere! Glad to have found your blog.

    • Monique January 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      Welcome Jenny and hello!


  1. Day out: Chedworth Roman Villa « Crumpets in Camelot - March 30, 2012

    […] down to examine it, seventeen hundred years ago or so.  Maybe she came with her parents from Corinium for a long spring break vacation with friends […]

  2. Cotswold Winter « Crumpets in Camelot - December 14, 2012

    […] Corinium Museum is a big hit with my kids, but we’ve been a bit too frequently, I […]

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