Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Rutland has the distinction of being the smallest of England’s historic counties and in the latter half of the 20th century had to fend off being annexed into some of its larger neighbours. Evidence for Roman activity in the county comes in the form of a stone shrine discovered on the Rutland Water Nature Reserve in 2008. Possible evidence of a Norman fortification can be found at Alstoe Castle, which survives as a series of earthworks, while later in the Middle Ages the area became home to an Augustinian community at Brooke Priory. It was possibly monks from another monastic settlement, Thorney Abbey, who created the Old Maze at Wing, which survives to the present as one of England’s most intriguing heritage sites. Those interested in early modern history will want to visit Rutland’s county town at Oakham, home both to a fortified manor house and to a 17th-century market cross and stocks.

Archaeology & History Sites in Rutland

Oakham Market Cross and Stocks

Oakham is a historic market town, a place where people came from surrounding villages for trade trade. Two important Grade-I listed reminders of this heritage still stand in the town center. Traditionally, an English market square was demarcated by the presence of a ‘market cross’. The example standing in Oakham dates from the 17th century, with eight timber posts supporting a slate roof. Under this structure are the wooden stocks, which would have held criminals for public humiliation.

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Museums & Art Galleries in Rutland

Rutland County Museum

Located in an 18th century riding school, Rutland County Museum opened in 1969. It contains collections centered on local archaeology (including Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts) and agricultural life in the county, with many farming implements and craftsman’s tools, tractors, and ploughs on display. More macabre is the original portable gallows, from which condemned criminals were hanged. Of particular note is the ornate 13th century Brooke Reliquary, discovered at Brooke Priory.