Places to Visit: The Museum of Somerset, Taunton

Taunton is the county town of Somerset and has a fascinating history. It has a castle, part of which now houses the Museum of Somerset. 

The Museum is fascinating- full of Somerset history from the earliest days to more recent times. It also has an exhibition about the Monmouth Rebellion, part of Somerset's history which is much over looked in schools.

As you enter, you are greeted by The Tree of Somerset, a beautiful carved sculpture full of references to Somerset and its history. 

From here, you follow through into the 'Foundation Stones' gallery, leading to a beautiful Roman mosaic at the end. 

This can be viewed from both the ground floor and from the gallery above. Originally from Low Ham Roman Villa, it shows the story of Aeneus and  Dido, as told by Virgil.

The Frome Hoard is also on display. This collection of 52,503 Roman coins was found in 2010  near Frome in a ceramic pot and date from AD 253 to 305. 

Upstairs, the journey through Somerset's history continues with the 'Making Somerset' gallery which is full of objects from the region. 

The 'Rebellion' gallery is all about the Monmouth Rebellion and the Bloody Assizes. This was a Protestant uprising led by James, Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, against the Catholic James II. This became known as the 'Pitchfork Rebellion' as many locals followed him, armed with only their farm tools as weapons. 

Monmouth and his army were defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor and he was beheaded on Tower Hill on the 15th July 1685. His followers are harshly dealt with by 'Hanging' Judge Jeffreys whose Bloody Assizes  condemned 320 people to death and caused around 800 to be transported.

R D Blackmore's 'Lorna Doone' is set at this time and the Doones side with Monmouth in the hope of reclaiming their ancestral lands. 

The Museum of Somerset is a great place to visit, staffed by friendly, helpful people and with a lovely cafe. Make sure you visit soon!