The Museum of Somerset is located in the great hall of Taunton Castle. The Castle dates from the 12th century, and the building has been central to the story of Taunton, of Somerset – and, at times, of England itself. The Castle was founded by William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester 1107-1129, and parts of the building are believed to date from this period. During the Second Barons' War it was used as a prison for the son of Simon de Montfort who was held here until 1282. The Castle was extensively reconstructed and extended in the 13th century and again in the 16th century. After the Civil War, the Castle became the location for the Assize Courts.
The museum hosts a collection of toys and dolls, sculpture, natural history, fossils, fine silver, remains of pottery, and it also contains a collection of archaeological items, including the mosaic found at the Low Ham Roman Villa. Also included is the Somerset Military Museum where visitors are enabled to follow the fortunes of the Somerset Light Infantry as they carried out their campaigns across the world. Exhibits include the Frome Hoard, a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins found in April 2010 by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near the town of Frome. The coins were contained in a ceramic pot 45 cm (18 in) in diameter, and date from AD 253 to 305. Most of the coins are made from debased silver or bronze. The hoard is one of the largest ever found in Britain, and is also important as it contains the largest group ever found of coins issued during the reign of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from 286 to 293 and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain. Other exhibits include a shrunken head from South America and Judge Jeffreys' medical bill.
Most parts of the museum are fully accessible, with lifts, disabled toilets and free wheelchair loan. Physical access to almost all the site is provided by two passenger lifts. The Discovery and Singing Galleries can be accessed by a stair lift with accompanying wheelchair. There is level access on each floor with ample space to manoeuvre between displays. Some doors open automatically. There are accessible toilets on the ground floor. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Taunton Castle, Castle Green , Taunton, Somerset TA1 4AA
Transport: Taunton (National Rail) 15 minutes. Bus Routes : 50 metres from Taunton Bus Station.
Opening Times : Tuesday to Saturday + Bank Holidays 10:00 - 17:00
Tickets : Free
Tel: 01823 255088