The collection spans all periods of human history and includes examples of everything from the earliest Prehistoric flint and stone tools to Victorian potties.
The collection has been growing since 1825 when archaeological objects began to be donated to The Bristol Institution, a forerunner of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Most of the objects collected in the 1800s were donated by, or bought from, individual collectors and amateur archaeologists.
Today, the majority of material is acquired as the result of controlled, professional excavations undertaken in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. A small number of objects have also been collected under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996).
The British Archaeology collections are an important record of the human past and whilst several hundred objects are displayed at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and M Shed, the rest is in storage. Collections in store are made available through special events, such as store tours and day schools, as well as on request.