Our collections are Designated as being of National Significance and are a unique resource for those researching the archaeology, history, art or natural history of Wiltshire.

The collections are used by many different people, including school children undertaking projects, college students, undergraduates, graduates and post-graduates preparing dissertations and theses, as well as members of the public undertaking personal projects including family history research.

Our small staff do what we can to help researchers and enquirers and to give access to the reserve collections of the Museum, Archive and Library.


Academic Research support overview

Our collections are Designated by Government as being of National significance, and we welcome the many researchers who wish to study them. In order to support your research, we encourage you to think about your research needs in advance of your visit. This also helps us to prepare for your visit, making sure that your time and ours is spent effectively. The museum has a small staff, and issues such as exhibition schedules, project deadlines, holidays and staff illness can make it difficult or impossible for us to meet research requests at short notice. We will, however, help as much as we can.

Contacting the museum

Your query may be dealt with by different members of staff, so please use the general email address–, or send a letter addressed to the Curator

Making an appointment and length of notice required

Appointment in writing /email, normally with the following:-

You may also find the Wiltshire Know Your Place website useful - this has historic mapping from the Ordnance Survey 1st edition onwards and Tithe Maps - see

  • Where relevant, you should provide evidence that you are competent to handle sensitive collections
  • Usually 2 months notice for Museum collections (Archaeology, Recent History, Art and Natural History)

Research in the Archive and Library can usually be arranged at 2 weeks notice, but please note the opening times of the Archive and Library and that specialist research assistance is not always available, so if you have specific requests, please give as much notice as possible, particularly if you wish to see a large amount of material.

When you visit us, please bring a form of identification with a photograph - such as a passport, university ID card or driving licence.

Curatorial staff time available

  • The Curator works part-time three days a week
  • The Archive & Library is run by a part-time member of staff, who works two days a week, and a team of volunteers
  • Average number of days spent researching the museum collections each year is 25 visits taking 40 days

Restrictions on use of objects including destructive analysis and sampling

  • Any request for destructive analysis or sampling is considered by the Board of Trustees, and requires their approval. The Board meet every 2-3 months, with papers submitted 2 weeks in advance. It may be possible in some circumstances for the request to be fast-tracked.

Loan arrangements

  • Any request for the loan of items from the collections is considered by the Board of Trustees, and requires their approval. Considerations include normal insurance, security and environment conditions

Access to related documentation

  • extensive Archive and Library holdings relating to the history, archaeology and environment of the County, including full runs of major archaeological journals
  • archaeological archive of excavations where this is extant, including photographs, plans and site notebooks

Access to stored objects

  • by prior appointment only, particularly items on display
  • all items retrieved on request

Facilities to browse collections

  • collections are documented on our website
  • some sensitive categories of material are not listed on the website. Please contact the Curator for more information

Information researchers are expected to provide

  • items should be identified in advance wherever possible by accession number (DZSWS:), site name or by reference to published catalogues or reports

Handling restrictions

  • Restrictions on handling fragile objects


  • Extensive image library
  • Photography allowed for private research; copyright and copies retained by museum
  • Publication of photographs normally charged
  • Any reproduction requires a credit to Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

Copy of research requested

  • Yes - this is then placed in our Library for other researchers to consult

Collections highlights

George Eliot and Devizes

During work in our Library and Archive, one of our volunteers discovered some interesting connections between George Eliot and Devizes. Newspaper cuttings of Eliot’s visit

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Battle of Roundway Down

England.  1642.  The First English Civil War has just begun with King Charles I of England and VI of Scotland fleeing London to Oxford after

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Thomas Lawrence – the ‘go to’ Georgian portrait painter from Devizes

Thomas Lawrence was born in Bristol in 1769 and moved to Devizes in 1773, when his father became landlord of the Bear Hotel. Devizes was

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Bush Barrow dagger

This dagger was buried with the Bush Barrow Chieftain who died in about 1950BC. The  blade is made of bronze but the pommel is one

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Copyright: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society