Corinium Museum

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Guide to The Cotswolds

The Corinium Museum is located on the edge of the historic center, at the end of Park Street, a short walk from the market square. Even if you are not a fan of museums, this is an interesting and informative example, as it has direct relevance to both the town and the region: far from being an eclectic collection of unrelated objects, it is thematic, with a strong bias to the story of the extensive Roman occupation of the Cotswolds, and in particular Cirencester, which was the second town of Roman Britain. The presentation takes the form of a series of rooms, each with its own refrain, over two floors. There is also one room dedicated to pre-Roman Cotswolds, and two others to Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Cotswolds respectively. The rooms are spacious, and thoughtfully laid out in a way that is straightforward, coherent, and uncluttered. A shop doubles as the town tourist information centre and there is also a café. Because of the layout, it is easy to linger in front of many of the exhibits without being overcome by a compulsion to make room for someone else. Some of the items, like the huge mosaics recovered from the town, or from former Roman country villas, are both intricate and monumental; whilst some of the jewelry and ornaments are beautifully observed and delicately made.

There are many highlights: the Dobunni bronze chariot harness mount in the form of an owl in the Pre-Roman section; the tombstones of Genialis and Dannicus, found in Cirencester; all the mosaics; the two huge Corinthian capitals; the acrostic wall plaster (one of only eleven examples known from the Roman world) that may prove the existence of Christianity in Roman Britain before the conversion of Constantine I, after which the whole Roman Empire became Christian; the Anglo-Saxon jewelry.