During my recent holiday in England, I visited the Museum of Somerset with my sister. The museum, which is located within the 12th century Taunton castle, had a lovely collection of exhibits about life in the Somerset region from prehistoric to present day.
The castle, designated as an ancient monument, has an interesting history from its 12th century beginnings to its decline in the 16th century, its role in the siege of Taunton in 1644/45 and as the site of the hangings of 144 of Monmouth’s supporters, following the Monmouth rebellion in 1685.
The reconstructed castle has several interesting galleries on display. While I enjoyed the different sections in the museum, the following six are the exhibits that I enjoyed most.
(1) The tree of Somerset
The sculpture greets you as you enter the ground floor gallery of the museum. The 175 year old Somerset oak tree on Quantock hills was originally felled to be made into beams. However, it was created into an artwork by Simon O’Rourke, reflecting some of the stories and objects to be found at the Museum of Somerset.
(2) Plesiosaur fossil
The Plesiosaur fossil is displayed in the Great Hall of the castle museum. Discovered by a Somerset fisherman, this fossil of a Plesiosaur was the first complete skeleton to be found in Britain for more than a century. The marine reptile thrived during the Jurassic period but became extinct about 66 million years ago.
(3) The Low Ham Mosaic
The floor mosaic was found in the bath block of a 4th century Low Ham Roman villa. The mosaic floor, which tells the story of Vigil’s Dido and Aeneas, is considered to be one of the most famous objects surviving Roman Britain.
(4) Frome Hoard
The Frome hoard was discovered in 2010 and is the largest hoard of coins ever found in a single container in Britain. The 160 Kg hoard is thought to have been buried in the 3rd century at Witham friary near Frome.
(5) The Shapwick Canoe:
The canoe was made from an oak tree trunk felled in 350 BC and was found in 1906, preserved in peat.
(6) Wild Art: Nature Re-Imagined, an exhibition by the Neal brothers
During my visit to the museum, there was a lovely exhibition of photography, sculpture and paintings by the Neal brothers. The brothers’ art career stemmed from their inspiring childhood explorations of the Somerset countryside.
There is much to discover about the history of the region, at the Museum of Somerset.
Have you visited Taunton and its castle museum? What is your favourite exhibit, from your own visit, or from my special six?
[I am linking this post to City Tripping #62]