Collections staff will be returning to work in September. Research visits will commence from November, usually on a Monday. The researchers who had to be cancelled prior to lockdown will be given priority. We look forward to working with you again.

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.


Research Overview

Over the past decade, we have welcomed more than 300 researchers from universities across the country to study the collections. This has helped to build our reputation as a centre of academic research, making the Wiltshire Museum a focal point for some of the latest scholarly work undertaken and ultimately increasing our knowledge of the past. Many of these researchers have come to study our nationally important archaeology collections, which includes numerous artefacts excavated in the landscapes surrounding the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, as well as the documentary archives that record their discovery. As a whole, the Museum collections record the archaeology, history and environment of Wiltshire.

Accessing Museum Collections

In order to support your area of study, we encourage you to think about your research needs in advance of your visit. This helps us to prepare the material in advance, making sure that your time and ours is spent effectively. The Museum has a small curatorial staff and so research visits are by appointment only. The Curator works part-time and the Archive & Library is run by a part-time member of staff, supported by a team of volunteers.

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.

Your initial correspondence should include the following information:-

  • Brief project outline identifying your research topic
  • Email / letter of recommendation from your supervisor
  • Evidence that you have conducted preliminary research, including searching the Museum’s online collections database - Where possible, in advance of your visit, you will need to supply the Museum with the accession numbers of the material you would like to see (DZSWS:)
  • Where relevant, you should provide evidence that you are competent to handle fragile / sensitive collections.

There is usually a 2 months-notice period to access Museum collections - archaeology, recent history, art and natural history. Research in the Archive and Library, looking at documentary material, can be arranged with 2-3 weeks-notice.

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

Destructive Analysis and Sampling of Collections

Any request for destructive analysis or sampling is considered by the WANHS Board of Trustees and requires their approval. The Board meet every 2-3 months, but it may be possible in some circumstances for the request to be fast-tracked. All requests for destructive analysis should be sent to the Curator, who will make a recommendation to the Trustees on your behalf.

Loan Arrangements

Any request to borrow items from the collections is considered by the WANHS Board of Trustees, and requires their approval. All considerations will include meeting the standard requirements for insurance, security and environmental conditions. All loan requests should be sent to the Curator, who will make a recommendation to the Trustees on your behalf.

Sharing Your Research

The Museum has recently been awarded a grant from the Arts Council England Designation Development Fund, to review the research undertaken on its collections. A Wealth of Knowledge: Unlocking a Decade of Archaeological Research is a joint project between us here in Devizes and the Salisbury Museum. A large number of researchers visit the two museums to consult the collections, but only a fraction of the research results have, as yet, been fed back into collections databases and gallery displays.

Therefore, on the completion of your studies, we kindly request that you deposit of copy of your research with the Museums, so it can be used to update the collections databases. We are delighted to accept all articles, theses and books which contain the results of the research that you have undertaken on our collections and these will be accessioned in our Archive & Library collection.

We also ask, where appropriate, that you consider allowing us to make a short video of your visit - describing your research objectives, to share with the wider public. We have recently started a new project to record researchers who come to the Museum to study the archaeology collections. If you would like to be a part of this, the Curator will explain the detail of what is required prior to your visit.








Collections highlights

Painting of Church in Stanton St Quintin

The Story of George Hartford: Watercolour of Stanton St Quintin Church

In this beautiful watercolour by John Buckler, you can see the church at Stanton St Quintin, Wiltshire. Despite its beauty its graveyard holds a tragic

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Sarsen stone cutters goggles

These steel framed goggles were used by the Free family who had a sarsen stone cutting business at Fyfield from the 1850s to 1939. Sarsen-working

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Map of Wiltshire – John Speed

Our Archive and Library houses an intricate 1610 map of Wiltshire by famous cartographer John Speed (1552-1629). Speed's visually impressive maps of both county and

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Phil Harding’s Scout Uniform

A Scout Uniform, Shalbourne (Marlborough) Troop, which once belonged to archaeologist and TV broadcaster, Phil Harding. Alongside a picture of Phil and a friend in

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Copyright: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society