Rutland County Museum | Kidadl

Rutland County Museum

Kidadl.com is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our Terms & Conditions for further information.

  • Discover Rutland Country Museum to learn about the history and collections this county has to offer, from the social and archaeological history and more to uncover.
  • Visit the museum in Oakham to see the displays which tell the story of the smallest county in England, learn about the archaeology, people, crime, punishment, history and rural life, here, plus the Brooke Reliquary.
  • Don't miss out on the regular cinema screenings every month, perfect to keep the little ones occupied, plus craft sessions in the half terms to get your creativity flowing.

Go back in time at the Rutland County Museum, which tells you the fascinating stories of the smallest county in the UK, with regular exhibitions of archaeology, rural and social life. The experienced and knowledgable staff help to promote the county of Rutland and its centuries of heritage through collections, artefacts, objects and interactive fun activities. The unique history of Rutland will pique your interest, whether it lies in the Jurassic period, through to the medieval times and more recent eras. There is an abundance of hidden gems and treasures to uncover at Rutland County Museum.

Look out for the well-archived and documented fossil exhibits. Immerse yourself in the Ice Age, as you discover the bison horn and ghastly sounding ‘Devil’s Toenails’, its real name, Gryphaea, which are these extinct oysters found from the Triassic and Jurassic periods! People would carry these to ward off rheumatism.

Check out the fascinating Alpine jade axe, which is a recent addition to the museum. It has an interesting story along with it because Stewart Carter found it while walking in Martinsthorpe, on the top of some ploughed soil on the Manton to Brooke Ridgeback in 2015, so they brought it to the museum for identification. An expert in axes, who also happened to be the former museum curator, Tim Clough, revelled in its importance. It was discovered that the axe is made from jadeite rock, which is significant as it would have been used by Neolithic craftsmen from the Mont Viso massif in the Alpine mountains of north-west Italy. There are only about 120 Alpine axes that are in Britain, this one was a first in the area, and there is only one other one like this in Britain, so come and see this impressive object.

Don't miss out on one of the star attractions of the museum, especially if you're interested in historical militia objects and items. Come and check out the Exton Gun which The Friends of Rutland County Museum and Oakham Castle bought, it's an unusual item, dating back to the 1800s. This was a private militia gun and was made for the Gainsborough Family in around 1806. It bears their coat of arms, and is fitted neatly with a flintlock igniter, signed 'Wilm Embrey Wing'. What's significant about the Exton Gun is that during the time it was made, there was a fear of Napoleonic invasion, so the gun would have been used to defend Oakham from French forces, specifically Exton Park, which is worth a visit. Luckily, Napoleon's plans were never put to the test, but if you see the gun for yourself, you can decide if you think it would have done the job.

At Rutland Museum, there are an array of exhibitions displayed that present, showcase and cover the rich, wide-ranging eras and local issues relating to the County, along with its ancient history. For anyone wanting to learn more about the area, the Museum has plenty on offer regarding the effects of recent events on the people of Rutland. Rutland County Museum is popular with schools for this reason, plus there are several workshops that are available for children to get involved with. From learning about the Romans in Rutland or the hard-working life of Victorian Rutland and the people in it, there are plenty of hands-on, interactive learning experiences to be had here. To get more of a feel about the area, check out Rutland Water Nature Reserve, offering bird watching, the geographical history of the area and gorgeous landscapes to sightsee.

Jewellery lovers will love visiting Rutland County Museum for the spectacular range of historical jewels and artefacts at this museum. Rutland is known for its veritable, authentic treasure trove of hidden gems, discoveries and more, that you can look at for yourself, with a richly splendid display of jewellery and objects that have been uncovered in various locations of the county. Keep an eye out for the divine medieval gold finger ring set that has a garnet gemstone. This ring was likely to have been worn during the 12th and 14th centuries and was considered a certified treasure by the Treasure Act of 1996. Plus, your gran might be a fan of the striking brooch that is styled in the fashion of a running dog, this special object was found at Thistleton, the Roman archaeological site.

For cinema lovers, there are screenings which take place on the first Thursday and third Friday of every month for the Cinema for Rutland event, which is an initiative organised by Arts for Rutland; the little ones will love watching films. Plus, don't miss out on the regular schedule of family activities that Rutland County Museum hosts during the year, especially the October half-term crafts and Summer term crafts. There are special temporary exhibitions that pop up to showcase objects and artefacts from the reserve collection to local artist exhibitions. For more great experiences and family activities in the county, check out Barnsdale Gardens, boasting of 38 unique gardens by the late Geoff Hamilton, with some wonderful family-orientated events on.

What to know before you go

  • When you're feeling peckish, there is a small café on site, or you can bring some food to enjoy after you experience Rutland County Museum, plus there are some family-friendly eateries nearby in Oakham, such as the Royal Duke Bar and Grill.
  • There are toilets, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities on site.
  • There is good mobility access and navigable paths for wheelchair and pushchair users.

Getting there

  • Rutland County Museum is located in Oakham, Rutland.
  • If travelling via public transport, the Rutland County Museum is just over a ten-minute walk from Oakham Train Station.
  • If travelling via the road, you can get to Oakham from the north, like Manchester, via the A50. From the south, like London, via the M11 and A1(M).
  • There is parking directly outside the museum, with free spaces for visitors with access needs.

More amazing things to do