Durham University Archaeology Museum

Durham University Museum of Archaeology
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Our gallery is part of the redeveloped Palace Green Library, at the heart of the World Heritage Site in Durham. The research collections are housed in a separate location within easy walking distance of the gallery in the Old Fulling Mill.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

Open at Palace Green Library. The gallery is open Monday, 12 – 5pm and Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

Admission charges

Free entry to the 'Living on the Hills' gallery

Highlights include outstanding Roman collections together with Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Tudor finds from Durham City and the local area.

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Trade and Commerce, Religion, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Oswald-Plique Samianware collection
  • Excavations of Saddler Street, Durham City
  • Durham City Survey
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

DECAY: Time, Objects & Destruction

  • 16 June — 29 October 2017 *on now

How can water destroy glass? Why do we not have much iron from the Iron Age? Why should I brush my teeth twice each day?

The key is TIME.

Find out about the hidden world of decay in museums through this exhibition looking at the effects of time on objects.

A new exhibition now open at Durham University’s Museum of Archaeology, in Palace Green Library. Created by the MA Museum and Artefact students ‘Decay: Time, Objects & Destruction’ showcases the impact of time on objects.

DECAY explores the interesting effect that time can have on museum objects. The exhibition aims to showcase the different stages of object decay by looking at various types of materials, including leather, glass and iron. Objects from the local area are integrated into the existing Living on the Hills gallery to show the impact of decay and explain the scientific process behind it.

DECAY also looks to the future to see what the effect of times are on modern artefacts – such as mobile phones, plastics and toys, to ask: what will these objects look like in 500 years?

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age


Exhibition room at the Old Fulling Mill Museum


Free entry.



lanchester diploma

Lanchester Diploma: Britain’s first complete fleet diploma

  • 20 July 2017 — 30 September 2018 *on now

Found in 2016 by metal detectorist Mark Houston near Lanchester, Co. Durham, this is the first complete Fleet Diploma to be discovered in the country and reveals the identity of one of Britain’s first named sailors. The diploma is made of a copper alloy and is now broken into 8 fragments, although it would have originally consisted of 2 rectangular bronze plates which were attached together with metal wires.

Roman Military Diplomas were the physical proof of rights granted to non-citizen soldiers to mark their honourable discharge on retirement after 26 years of service. This diploma was issued by the emperor Antoninus Pius (AD 138-191) to Tigernos, a native of Lanchester, Co. Durham, in around AD 150. The diploma granted him and his descendants Roman citizenship and the legal right of marriage. To earn the diploma he had served in the Classis Germanica -the Roman fleet in Germany, most likely for 26 years, before being honourably discharged on his retirement.

The diploma contains a wealth of information which is still being translated and researched. Mark brought the diploma to the attention of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, who were instrumental in the reporting, recording, identification and final acquisition by the Museum of Archaeology.

The diploma not only provides information on governors, consuls, and commanders, such as the then Prefect of the German Fleet, Marcus Ulpius Ulpianus, but we are hoping that it will also allow researchers to map the career of Tigernos.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children
  • Any age



Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
dig deeper

Investigating the small finds from Durham’s River Wear – a scientific approach

  • 25 October 2017 1-2pm

As part of our Dig Deeper talks, underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead will talk about Investigating the small finds from Durham’s River Wear.

With over 10,500 small finds recovered to date, the Durham River Wear Assemblage is acknowledged as representing a major research facility, probably the largest collection of late- and post-medieval finds in the North of England - a unique regional and national resource. Mainly consisting of the discarded material culture of Durham’s citizens, these typically metal objects - the ‘small things forgotten’ - are revealing social activities rarely recorded in Durham’s written histories.

By using case studies , underwater archaeologist and small finds researcher Gary Bankhead will explain how on going scientific research in the Department of Archaeology (Durham University), is producing new evidence of how the population of a medieval city evolved from its feudal roots, though the late and post-medieval ‘age of transition’ to become part of the capitalist economy, consuming and producing the products which supported an empire and fuelled an industrial revolution.

This talk will be free of charge. Booking is not required for lunch time talks but seating will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17


This talk will be free of charge. Booking is not required for lunch time talks but seating will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

A Roman Resource Pack for Teachers


A high quality downloadable teaching resource for use in the classroom. This teacher's pack is related to the exhibition on Roman pottery, "Fire Your Imagination" at the Old Fulling Mill Museum. Contents include two lesson plans with linked PowerPoint presentations to be used with an interactive whiteboard (with high quality images), or printed out, and two games. The pack links literacy (non-fiction) and art and design subject areas closely with the history of the Romans. The pack is aimed at KS2 and is downloadable for FREE.


  • Claire Reed

How to obtain

To obtain this resource, on the Fire Your Imagination website www.fireyourimagination.net select the education section at the top of the page. The Teacher's Pack can be reached via the 'teachers resources' link on the left hand side of the education page. This resource is offered for FREE.

Living on the Hills Gallery

Family Activities


Join in with Family Activities at weekends, at our Living in the Hills Gallery, Palace Green. Sessions take place 13.00-15.00 on a drop-in basis and are suitable for children aged 5-11 years.

How to obtain

Activities are free of charge. All children must be accompanied by an adult. For more details, contact archaeology.muesum@durham.ac.uk.

Durham University Archaeology Museum
Palace Green Library




All enquiries



All enquiries

0191 334 2932

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.