Seven amazing antiquities

  • 16 November 2011

Britain is home to a wealth of ancient artefacts, some left behind by the Romans and Saxons who once occupied the isles, others brought here by eager explorers and avaricious armies.

We've picked some amazing antiquities for you to see, from the Rosetta Stone to a real Roman amphitheatre. As ever, visiting each of our picks is free or reduced price with a National Art Pass!

1. Roman Baths Museum, Somerset
Reduced price entry with National Art Pass

Built around the Roman ruins surrounding a natural hot spring, this extraordinary archaeological site and museum tells the story of 7,000 years of human history. Visitors can explore the original temple, bath house and spring, while costumed actors bring the museum's extensive collection of Roman artefacts to life.

2. Guildhall Art Gallery and London's Roman Amphitheatre, London
Free entry with National Art Pass

Even without its extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and 17th-century portraiture, Guildhall Art Gallery would be worth visiting for its Roman amphitheatre. Discovered by archaeologists surveying the gallery site in 1988, the ruined amphitheatre was incorporated into the building, opening its doors to the public for the first time in nearly 2,000 years.

3. British Museum, London
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Britain's most visited museum is home to some of its favourite artefacts, from the Rosetta Stone to the Elgin Marbles. Its Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities is one of the world's greatest holdings of Classical objects, while the Egyptian collection is the most comprehensive outside of Cairo.

4. Firstsite Colchester, Essex
Free to all

Firstsite Colchester is a contemporary gallery with an ancient heritage. Situated in Britain's oldest recorded town, the gallery sits above the remains of a Roman settlement. The only piece of art on permanent display is the Berryfield Mosaic, a giant Roman floor decoration discovered in 1923.

5. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, West Midlands
Free entry to exhibitions with National Art Pass

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of two places in Britain where the Staffordshire Hoard, which was saved for the nation following an Art Fund campaign in 2010, is on permanent display. The Saxon treasure joins a collection of artefacts spanning Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.

6. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Free to all

With a collection of Greek objects from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic periods and one of the finest Egyptology collections in the country, the Fitzwilliam is a a must-see for any fans of the ancient world. Highlights include the red granite sarcophagus lid of Rameses III, the last great pharaoh of the New Kingdom.

7. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

The University of Oxford's venerable museum is itself something of an antiquity, having a strong claim to being the oldest museum in the world. The Ashmolean's Anglo-Saxon collection is second only to the British Museum, and its wealth of pre-dynastic Egyptian artefacts is unparalleled in Europe.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesGreat days out