Cheddar Man and the Prehistory of Britain

The extraordinary story of Cheddar Man is the subject of a talk to be given on 11 July at the Museum of Somerset by Dr Tom Booth of the Natural History Museum. The remarkable skeleton of this early human featured recently in the Channel 4 documentary The First Brit.

Credit Channel 4 _ Plimsol Productions 2-media

New research into ancient DNA extracted from the skeleton has helped scientists to build a portrait of Cheddar Man. Credit Channel 4 Plimsol Productions

Cheddar Man lived around 10,000 years ago and is the oldest almost complete skeleton of our species, Homo sapiens, ever found in Britain. The skeleton was discovered in 1903 at Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset.

New research into ancient DNA extracted from the skeleton has helped scientists to build a portrait of Cheddar Man and his life in Mesolithic Britain. Dr Booth is among those working on a project funded by the Wellcome Institute which involves researchers from the Natural History Museum, University College London and Harvard University.

In his talk Dr Booth will explore the archaeological evidence of what life was like for Cheddar Man and the other Mesolithic inhabitants of Britain. He will consider what Britain’s landscape looked like 10,000 years ago, what people ate and how they treated their dead. He will also examine the changes to human populations in Britain after Cheddar Man lived, including the extraordinary upheavals which accompanied the arrival of new cultures.


Tickets cost £9.50 with booking advised via Ticketsource or by calling 01823 255088. Talk starts at 7.30 pm.

Read more

Read more about the extraordinary story of Cheddar Man on the Natural History Museum website

Half-Term Fun at The Museum of Somerset

32186711_1768247443264170_7540260162703982592_n (1)

There’s lots for to do for all ages at the museum this Spring half-term, with activities and trails inspired by our Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories exhibition.

From Tuesday 29 to Thursday 31 May we are running Puppet Animals Family Fun inspired by the stage production of Michael’s War Horse. Create a play with shadow puppets and make your own hand puppets and marionettes, all for just £1. No need to book, just drop-in between 11:00-13:00 or 14:00-15:30.

There is a choice of trails to take you round the museum, including our popular Selfie Trail (remember to bring a camera). Or you can try our Morgurgo inspired Choose Your Own Adventure Trail, and see where your imagination takes you as you explore the museum. All trails are just £1.

The Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories exhibition is open throughout the holidays. Alongside original manuscripts, photographs and illustrations, is a replica of Michael’s own creative caravan to help you imagine, daydream and write story ideas. There is a charge of £2.50 for the exhibition (£2.75 inc. Gift Aid). Under eights are free.


Walking Tours 2018: Taunton Then & Now

Inspired by our exhibition ‘The World Before Yesterday: The Photography of Stanley Kenyon’, Taunton: Then & Now is a brand new walking tour of Somerset’s county town.

The tour offers the chance to visit some of the thousands of sites Kenyon photographed in the mid- twentieth century, to see how they have changed in the intervening decades and learn something of their history. Much of Kenyon’s work depicts Taunton people, places and communities at a time of rapid change and the tour will visit both well-known buildings and lesser known industrial and commercial sites

Do you remember which store dominated East Street before Primark came to town or when Wimpy introduced Taunton to the hamburger? Did you know that Buffalo Bill brought his Wild West Show to town or that the founder of the international YMCA was the son of a Somerset farmer? Join a tour to hear all these stories and more.

Tours depart from the museum every Saturday at 11am throughout the summer, starting on 19 May. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. Advanced booking is advised; to reserve your place, call the museum on 01823 255088.

Taunton now and then.jpg

‘Brunel Through a Lens’ Talk on 26th June at 2.30pm

We are delighted to be hosting a Cafe 200 event with the Institution of civil Engineers.

Rose Teanby will be presenting a talk about Brunel’s use of early photography, his creations appearing in early photographs and explaining why he was one of the first engineers to adopt photography.

A selection of rare images will be displayed.  The collection will include the first photographic image of work in progress dating from 1841.  The audience will have the opportunity to discuss these photographs and view some stereoscopic images using an antique viewer.  A civil engineer will also be available to answer questions relating to the details of construction.

Photographers include Robert Howlett, William Henry Fox Talbot, John Dillwyn Llewellyn, Joseph Cundall and Henry Delamotte.

Rose Teanby is a photo historian with a great interest in the photography of civil engineering.  She is the biographer of Robert Howlett and has lectured about his iconic portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

This event is part of the Café 200 programme of events taking place across the UK to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Tickets are only £3 and must be booked in advance and are available from the museum on 01823 255088 or on-line from museum of somerset


Easter at The Museum of Somerset

file [Tmos coloured chick]_web

There is a wealth of family activities on offer at the Museum of Somerset this Easter.

From Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 March you can Celebrate the Arrival of Spring with drop-in family activities. Sessions run from 10.30-13.00 and 14.00-15.30. Activities are aimed at children of ages 3-11 years and cost £1 per child.

On Saturday 31 March we have FREE Roman themed Family Fun activities as part of  the BBC Civilisation Festival. Drop-in anytime from 11.00-13.00 or 14.00-15.30.

From Tuesday 3 to Thursday 5 April there are drop-in family activities with an Easter theme. Sessions run from 10.30-13.00 and 14.00-15.30. Activities cost £1 per child.

Throughout the local school holiday period you can have a go at our Easter Egg Trail around the museum. £1 per child.

Don’t forget that the Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories exhibition will be open throughout the holidays and beyond.

The museum will be open on both Good Friday and Easter Monday from 10am until 5pm (last entry 4.30pm).

We look forward to seeing you!


A Tudor Christmas on 28th and 29th December

Thursday 28 and Friday 29 December, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Celebrating our prestigious exhibition ‘Henry VII: The First Royal Portrait,’ ‘A Tudor Christmas’ explores Tudor life through music, drama, costume and crafts.

There will be a dramatic retelling of Henry VII’s links to Taunton Castle and a traditional Tudor musician, as well as an opportunity to find out about the differences between Christmas celebrations for the rich and poor

Children can dress-up for ‘Royal Selfies’ and follow the Castle Trail around the Museum.

Free event, with a small charge of £1 for the craft activities and the Castle trail.


This event has something for all ages, so ideal to bring along the whole family.

The Remnants of an Army Returns to the Somerset Military Museum

The Remnants of an Army by Lady Elizbeth Butler returned to the Somerset Military Museum this September. The painting belongs to the Tate Gallery and was recalled to Tate Britain in 2015 where it featured in Artist and Empire, a major exhibition of art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day. The exhibition, including the painting, later travelled to the National Gallery of Singapore.

Remnents of army-sml

Elizabeth Butler (1846-1933) achieved fame for her realistic depictions of war and its consequences. The Remnants of an Army is one of her best-known works.

The painting shows the moment in 1842 when Dr William Brydon arrived outside the fortress town of Jellalabad during the 1st Afghan War. He brought the terrible news that 17,000 British soldiers and camp followers had been massacred. They had been making their way back from Kabul to India. But they were attacked along the route despite a promise of safe passage from Akbar Khan, the Afghan tribal leader.  Dr Brydon was one of very few survivors.

Soldiers of the 13th Light Infantry, the regiment which would later become the Somerset Light Infantry were then besieged in the fortress town of Jellalabad. After five months they broke out and defeated the Afghans in one of the most famous military operations of the Victorian age.

Find Out More

Join Curator of Military History Sam Astill for a Talk and Tea exploring the painting at The Museum of Somerset at 2.30 pm on 10 November (£5.)

Dino Day Sunday 22nd October

Dino Day 2017[4] Join us for some Dino fun on Sunday 22nd October.  This has become one of our favourite events, with lots of fun for all dino lovers.

You can enjoy crafts and activities, dress up and even disco dance with a dinosaur!

The whole museum will be open with a chance to meet our expert and enjoy our cuddly dino trail.

The museum is open from 10am until 5pm, and the cost which includes all the activities is £3 per person (age 3+) or £10 for a family.  There is no need to book – just turn up.


Summer of Fun Activities for Saturday 2nd September

Join us on Saturday 2nd September for our last day of summer holiday pick and mix activities.

Rhyme Around the World  Multi-sensory exhibition £2pp or £2.20 incl gift Aid (2+)

Trails  – all day Choose from different trails  £1

Pirate dressing up – all day – free


10.00-12.00   Romans – make a mosaic, tell the time in Roman numerals £1

12.30-1.30  Coin Striking – learn how to strike a Celtic Coin  £1

2.00-4.00 Ice Age – make a hairy mammoth, make a cave lion puppet  £1