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St. Albans
Verulamium Museum

About the St. Albans Verulamium Museum

Exterior view of St. Albans museumAt the height of the Roman occupation, Verulamium was the third largest town in Britain. Being sited on the famous Watling Street that ran from Dover to Wroxeter via London and St. Albans, it was an administrative stronghold. During the Boudiccan rebellion it was burnt down by Boudicca's forces. Verulamium was rebuilt and prospered over the following centuries, surviving into the 5th century before eventually being abandoned. The remains of some the Roman buildings were probably used to construct much of the medieval town. Most of these buildings have long since vanished, although the Abbey and some churches in the area remain today. Apart from sections of the boundary wall, the theatre and the hypocaust, little remains standing of the original Verulamium.

So it is a credit to the museum that they have managed to put together a display of Verulamium that enables us to get an excellent insight into the town and it's way of life.

Exhibits in the museum

Entrance from the car park is via a rotunda loosely designed to reflect Roman construction techniques. The initial display covers the pre Roman town of Verlamion and it's Iron Age artefacts. There is also a DVD presentation on the history of Verulamium using computerised reconstructions to show the town in it's prime. From here the museum is divided into sections. each displaying a different aspect of Roman life in Verulamium. This has meant the museum has retained it's structured attitude to the layout of exhibits so that any visitor can take in each section without being overwhelmed by the information on offer.

The galleries include :

  • Audio commentaries on various aspects of Roman life and are played as though the original speaker is telling the story
  • Recreations of scenes that show Roman life in Verulamium
  • Roman implement
  • Roman jewellery
  • Examples of board games played by the Romans, including reconstructions and actual archaeological finds
  • Actual mosaics unearthed during excavations in St. Albans.

The main gallery in particular shows two fine intact mosaics. The gallery has a large open area  and on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month, Legion XIIII are on guard and give demonstrations and talks on Roman military life.

The museum has managed to achieve a fine balance in having exhibits that are of interest to both adults and children alike. This is also reflected in the museum's shop where there is a variety of material to suit all ages.


PostumusDuring excavations in 1989, at a Roman burial site in St. Albans, a coffin was unearthed that was to be a significant find. In the coffin where the remains of a man who had died nearly 2000 years before. No evidence of his name was ever found, so the museum named him 'Postumus'. Alongside this exhibit, is a video that tells the story of the excavation and conservation work that was carried out.

This is a fascinating film, as it shows how archaeologists worked alongside other experts to piece together his probable position in society, his lifestyle, age and why he was buried in such an ornate lead coffin. On the display behind the exhibit, is a painstakingly detailed recreation of his perceived appearance.

The Postumus video has won 2 awards:

  • 1992—British Archaeological Society's Channel four Award for the best British made film or video for educational use.
  • 1993—Society for the Interpretation of British Heritage — Interpret Britain Award.

Recreated Roman rooms

The museum has recreated rooms, both at home and at work, as they were in Roman times. It is possible to imagine yourself in the room at the time of the Roman occupation. Some exhibits have a touch screen facility to enable more information to be displayed.
<<<< Shown here is a recreation of a kitchen scene in a Roman home

Restoration of finds

Phil Carter of the Verulamium museum restoring a Roman potOn occasions a guided tour is available of the restoration rooms. Here you can see the delicate work of cleaning and repairing excavated items. The museum's restoration staff methodically examine every piece of pottery, jewellery etc. and prepare it for exhibition. Verulamium's conservators work on material from many sites in the country.
Phil Carter of Verulamium Museum restoring a Roman pot >>>>

Regular events in the museum

On the second weekend of each month, a local society known as Legion XIIII occupy the galleries. Here soldiers dressed in full Roman uniform and carrying reconstructions of authentic Roman weapons, are on hand to explain their roles to visitors. In the main gallery, there is also a demonstration of an aspect of Roman military life. Visitors attending these demonstrations are often persuaded to take part by imposing looking Roman soldiers! The soldier who usually gives the demonstrations is Gaius Allius who holds the rank of Optio and has been giving the Saturday displays since 1990.

Useful information

  • Pay & display parking next to museum
  • Cafe nearby
  • Facilities for the disabled
  • Full wheelchair access
  • Gift shop in museum
  • Pre booked coach parties welcome


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