Collections

Explore the Collections

Flag Fen and Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery hold a wide-ranging collection of nationally and internationally important objects.

These collections represent a range of sites from across Peterborough and the Flag Fen Basin.

Objects from these collections can be seen on display at both Flag Fen Archaeology Park and Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery. These include weapons, jewellery, tools and the in situ Causeway remains. With the addition of the Must Farm archive, the significance and depth of these collections have grown and will be a treasure trove of knowledge for researchers.

We are excited to bring these objects to you in the future through our online collections.

Explore select items from our collections and find out more about making donations, loans and research.

The Collections

Flag Fen

The Flag Fen Archive is an important prehistoric collection of artefacts, encompassing finds from excavations across the Flag Fen Basin.

The Flag Fen site itself was discovered in 1982 by archaeologist Francis Pryor, following a series of digs at nearby Fengate.

Among the timbers of the 1km long causeway and 2.5 acre platform, made 3,500 years ago, over 300 objects and many high status and valuable items have been found.

Some of these items can be seen on-site at Flag Fen Archaeology Park, including weapons, jewellery, tools and the in situ causeway remains.

Archaeology

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery has a large collection of local archaeological finds which reflect human occupation of the area since the earliest times. The period spans the Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic), over 200,000 years ago and includes the Bronze & Iron Ages as well as Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval ages.

The archaeological collection and archive are still growing, as new building development uncovers further remains around the Peterborough area.

Notable amongst the collections are finds from the prehistoric settlements at Fengate, Nene Valley Ware from the local Roman pottery industries, finds from a local Roman Villa at Durobrivae, and fine grave goods from Anglo-Saxon burials, including a hanging bowl.

Must Farm

The Museum has recently acquired the Must Farm archive which was discovered on the outskirts of Peterborough and includes the Must Farm log-boats, weapons, textiles, beads, fish-traps, weirs, cooking and household items – including a pot with food still intact within it, a palisaded dwelling, and Britain’s earliest wheel.

These finds are of incredible significance due to their unparalleled state of preservation. Image courtesy of Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

Collections Online

Peterborough Museum is committed to sharing information about the collections as widely as possible and will be working on getting approximately 200,000 objects searchable online as soon as we can.

While we work on that, please feel free to use our enquiry service if you have any questions regarding the collection.

Collection Highlights

Shears

These wonderfully preserved Iron Age bronze shears, complete with their fitted wooden box, were one of many metalwork objects found deposited around the Flag Fen post alignment.

Complete with a carved slot presumably for holding a sharpening stone, it is thought these may not have been used to shear animals, but human hair or fabrics instead.

Iron Age Sword

During the Iron Age, Britain was not a single nation, but a collection of different tribes and kingdoms ruled by important people.

The sword would have belonged to an important person such as a king and represents a very fine example dating from the 1st century BC. Found at Orton Longueville, it had been deposited in a river as an offering.

Must Farm Boats

Eight remarkably preserved logboats discovered at Must Farm, are currently undergoing preservation at Flag Fen Archaeology Park.

The oldest of the boats dates to approximately 3,500 years ago, with the boats representing a period of over six centuries. Over this period all of the boats found their way to the bottom of the Must Farm watercourse, alongside eel traps and fish weirs. It is thought that some had been deliberately scuttled, though the reason for this is open to speculation.

Flesh Hook

An Iron Age flesh hook discovered at Flag Fen, constructed from bronze with a single curved prong, a collared socket and two rivet holes. This hook was discovered in situ below some of the earliest portions of the causeway, dating it to around 1300BC. The preservation of this object was so good, that the point is still sharp and the wooden remains of the shaft/handle were still present within the socket.

Flesh hooks are thought to have been used in the tanning process to remove hides from tanning pits. They have also been found in relation to cauldrons, suggesting their use in cooking.

Using the Collections

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery has an ever- growing collection of archaeological and cultural objects discovered professionally, by hobbyists and through donations. On request, the Museum can provide access to the collections for academic and personal research purposes. For more information on using our collections, making donations, loan enquiries, collections care advice, or to view our policies visit Using the Collections.

Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a national programme which assists with the recording of archaeological finds discovered by members of the public. The scheme aims to help finders have their objects identified and recorded, as well as providing specialist advice on conservation and storage. The finds are recorded centrally on a national database, which can be accessed over the Internet. To learn more about the services provided at Peterborough Museum visit finds identification services.

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