Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes says it has no more room for the archaeological
discoveries that are being made during excavations at proposed housing developments.

Developers are required to arrange archaeological investigations on land where they intend to build and investigators come up with boxes full of artefacts dating from prehistoric to relatively modern times.

But David Dawson, of the museum in Long Street, Devizes, says neither it nor Salisbury Museum have room for more.

He said: “We can get up to 100 boxes a year. We commissioned a new store about two years ago at our own expense and that is now full, so we have no place to put any of this new material.

“The companies that carry out the excavations have to store it themselves.

“This material is really useful for research but until we can find more room to put it, it will not be available to us.”

The museum could only recently house finds from a Saxon cemetery in Market Lavington that was excavated in 1990 and some of these artefacts will soon go on show.

But the material from more recent excavations is likely to lie gathering dust for some time.
Mr Dawson and his opposite number at Salisbury Museum, Adrian Green, have jointly written to

Coun Fleur de Rhé-Philipe, the Wiltshire Council cabinet member for economic development and strategic planning, highlighting the problem.

They wrote: “It is essential that adequate financial provision for long-term storage should be provided through the infrastructure delivery plan and the community infrastructure levy.

“Wiltshire Council does not cover the cost of maintaining the archaeological finds and archives that are generated as a result of planning consents that have been approved by the council.”

As a result of the letter, Wiltshire Council has included a requirement in the emerging core strategy – or local plan – to provide storage for artefacts unearthed in these excavations.

Mr Dawson said: “If the government inspector approves the core strategy, it will be the first time a local authority has taken on this responsibility.”