The collection

The departmental library was created in 2002 after the merging of the Prehistory and Roman Britain and Medieval and Later Antiquities departments. The collection covers the Palaeolithic period around the world, the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages in Europe, the Roman occupation of Britain, Byzantium, the Early and Late Medieval period in both Britain and the continent and the European decorative arts from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. The department also includes the museum’s Horological and scientific instruments collections. 

The library is formed of over 42,000 monographs, including the department’s Special Collection of pre-1850 publications. In 2010 the department created a new serials library to house our 600 runs of journals and periodicals. This part of the collection is particularly strong in European and British regional archaeology, with some publications going back to the eighteenth century.

Using the library

The Britain, Europe and Prehistory departmental library is a reference, non-open shelves service. We will gladly assist students and researchers interested in publications not available from their regular libraries. We are based in the museum’s White Wing, access via Room 2. The Palaeolithic section of the library, however, is held alongside the collections at Franks House, our outstation in Shoreditch (London).

Users should send their enquiries or book their appointments through our Students Rooms, allowing at least 14 days for a reply.

Unfortunately, our collection is not accessible via Inter-library Loans (ILL).

Important notice: Users should be aware that the library is currently undergoing a process of retro conversion of the holdings; this means that not all our monographs are fully recorded at the museum’s OPAC.  We are working to see the project finished by mid-2018.

Photocopying and digital images

Whilst we allow photocopying of printed material for research and private study with non-commercial purpose it is the responsibility of the reader to ensure that this does not infringe copyright law. We provided a declaration form and charge 10p per photocopy (A3 and A4). The same guidelines apply for digital photography.

Please refer to BM Images for professional photography of objects in the museum’s collection.

Exchange of publications, internships and volunteering projects

The Britain, Europe and Prehistory departmental library is very keen on regular exchange of publications with other museums and/or libraries that publish on our topics of interest as explained above.

Possibilities for interns and volunteers appear in the library all through the year. Projects are open to anyone with an interest in Librarianship, art or archaeology and offer a good insight into the everyday running of a research library. Even though no experience is needed, knowledge of cataloguing rules (MARC21, AACR2, LCSH) and/or European languages is greatly appreciated.

Please contact us for further details on the above projects.