The Archaeology Collections represent all periods from the Palaeolithic to the present day from within the city of Worcester and the wider county of Worcestershire in the form of chance finds including treasure, material from small archaeological sites and large deposits of objects from major excavations.
Material from recent archaeological excavations and watching briefs are deposited in the collections.
The Worcester city collections reflect the development of settlements at Worcester, and are rich in Roman, medieval and post-medieval objects. Ceramics mainly pottery, porcelain, floor and roof tile, with bone, stonework, industrial deposits are well represented, along with some metalwork, coins, environmental remains and assorted small finds for these periods. There are very limited holdings of prehistoric and anglo-saxon artefacts from Worcester.
In the early 19th century the Worcestershire Natural History Society collected archaeological material from local antiquarians; this was wide ranging in type and provenance but included a quantity of prehistoric worked flint.
In the 1830s Thomas Eaton, a local bookseller, recovered Roman pottery, brooches and bells from the demolition of Castle Hill near the Cathedral.
Amateur archaeologists recovered material as redevelopment of the city centre progressed during the mid 20th century, before professional archaeology became established in Worcester.
Excavations were conducted between 1960 and 1985 on sites at Broad Street, Cathedral Close, City Walls Road, Deansway, High Street, Lychgate, New Street, Severn Street, Sidbury and Union Street. Excavation work at Blackfriars and Deansway in advance of the Crowngate development in the late 1980s produced much excellent material which almost doubles the size of the collection.
In addition to the Worcestershire collections, there is a small quantity of foreign artefacts, including a significant collection of Egyptian artefacts, notably pottery and jewellery, centred on objects found in 1913-14 at Lahun and Harageh by Sir Flinders Petrie.
Other highlights include:
- Costume – North American embroidered clothing, Chinese shoes and coat, Maori grass skirt, African textiles.
- Religious Items – Tibetan prayer stones, Indian temple lamps, Solomon Islands mortuary sculpture.
- Musical Instruments – African drums, sansas, rattles and xylaphone, Tibetan gongs.
- Baskets – African baskets, gourd bowls and bottles, New Guinea baskets.
- Personal Ornament – Jewellery including necklaces and bracelets from Africa, India, New Guinea & the South Pacific.
- Weapons and Armour – African spears, Indian swords, Australian boomerang and clubs, Japanese armour