British Museum Guide
This British Museum Guide will guive you 8 collections that are worth seeing as it can be overwhelming to visit the British Museum. Let me do all the planning for you. With more than 6000 items, it can take at least half a day to visit half of what’s inside. After 1 hour, I was already tired walking up and down visiting the items I wanted to see.
In this self-guided tour, there are advice and recommendations on navigating the British Museum, a British Museum highlights tour if you like. Read on what items are worth seeing under 2 hours.
What to see at the British Museum
The British Museum collection stores more than 6000 treasures and artefacts rich in history and culture from around the world. Archaeologists have been working tirelessly to find hidden objects buried in this planet of ours and it’s not going to stop now. With more than 6 million visitors a year, the British Museum has been the most visited attraction for a good ten years. In this British Museum Guide, it will highlight the best items worth the look based on my picks and the popularity of visitors’ choices.
What are the best things to see at the British Museum?
I’ve researched a lot on what to see in the British Museum. I will be covering 8 treasures that I feel worth looking at in the order I looked at. Here are some of my British Museum highlights.
- The Rosetta Stone
- Winged Bulls from Khorsabad
- Parthenon Sculptures
- Bust of Pharaoh Ramesses II
- Egyptian Mummies
- Mildenhall Treasures
- Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
- Lewis Chessmen
How long do I need at the British Museum?
No more than 2 hours. You can get lost here and spend all day when you could spend the rest of your time visiting other museums, galleries and attractions. I spent 1 hour and I was already tired walking around, finding the items I wanted to see. I was lost myself. However, take your time and enjoy looking at history at its finest. If you get lost, there are plenty of assistance standing around waiting for you to ask any questions you want answered. And yes you can take photos in the museum.
History of The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone has travelled to many places throughout history and its history has been an interesting one. Weighing 760 kilograms, it was discovered in July 1799 by Napoleonic soldiers in Rosetta, what we now call the town of Rashid in Egypt. Academics in the 1800’s worked tirelessly to translate the hieroglyphics on the stone.
Temples closed down when Egypt converted into Christianity. Some masonries to create Egyptian language or hieroglyphs were still in operation. They broke the stone and was brought to Rashid to be made into a fortress by Sultan Qaitbay, the rule of Egypt back then.
When the Brits defeated the French, the stone was then brought into the museum in 1802 “presented by King George III”.
The History of Winged Bulls from Khorsabad
The video on the right are winged bulls from the palace in Khorsabad town in North East Iran. It was thought that the winged bulls protected them from evil spirits. It was also thought that it had guardian and supernatural powers.
The Khorsabad palace where the bulls were placed was dedicated to the Assyrian King Sargon II, which he ruled between the year 721 – 705 BC.
A few years later, the Assyrian King Sennacherib reigned between 704–681 BC. He took a hold of the city of Lachich during the Assyrian siege of Lachich. The stone carving depicts prisoners captured and were presented to the King below.
Parthenon Sculptures from Athens, Greece
The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Goddess Athena. The Parthenon sculptures decorated the Parthenon temple in 5th Century BC. It depicts 50 monumental figures and was wrapped around the whole four squares of the temple. The sculptured images were taken from Greek mythology. One shows a picture of the Greeks winning a victory against the Centaur and Amazon. This was used as a visual metaphor between Darius and Xerxes during the Persian Wars in 5th Century BCE. It also showed the ideal life of people living in Athens.
Bust of Pharaoh Ramesses II
The photo you see above is the bust of Pharaoh Ramesses II also known as Ramesses the Great. The body of Ramesses was lost but archaeologists were able to bring his bust into the museum.
He was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt during 1279 – 1213 BCE. His family stepped up into power several decades after King Amenhotep IV ruled Egypt. Alongside his father, he tried tor restore the Egyptian power in Asia from the failing ruler Akhenaton, then Tutankamen thereafter.
His father taught him everythig there is to know about becoming king before he succeeds to the throne. He had his own harem and followed his father on political campaigns in order to win fights against their opponents. This way, he whould have had experience in kingship and strategies in how to win a war.
Ahh, this is one of my favourite room. I was looking forward to this one knowing that when I think of the British museum, the first thing that comes to mind is looking at the mummies. The first mummy I saw was the the mummy of a 17 year old girl Cleopatra, not to be mistaken for the Egyptian queen who married Marc Anthony.
It was thought that her family was very wealthy and that expensive jewellery were adorn around her body to show how wealthy she was. There are other mummies that have been well preserved from 3000 years ago here.
The Mildenhall Treasures were several Roman treasures found in Mildenhall Suffolk , 1942. They consist of Roman silverwear from spoons, goblets, plates and platters.
In the video down below, you will see several silverware items that contain Greek mythology. Inscriptions of its weight can be found on the bases of these silverware. The owners of these silverware used them for social purposes and showed their wealth in their status.
Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
Sutton Hoo was a 6th and 7th century cemetery. In one cemetery, they had found a large ship burial containing Anglo-Saxon treasures. When they found the ship, it was an important aspect of English history. Alongside their finds, they found several myths, legends and factual historical documents rolled into one.
Raewald was the ruler of the East Angles and he wanted to establish Christianity into England. He was thought to be the person buried in the ship. Sutton Hoo showed me parts of Anglo-Saxon history in England I never knew existed.
To the right are some artefacts I recorded in the British Museum.
In the video above, it shows 78 chess pieces known as Lewis Chessmen. It was discovered in 1831 in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, hence the name.
These medeival chess pieces are all 12th Century and are were made from walrus tusks and some with whale teeth. It was thought they were produced in Norway. Some say they were made in Iceland or the Nordic countries. This reference was made to be believed because the Scottish islands were ruled by Norway at the time.
Spend at most 2 hours in the museum. I suggest using the audio guide to work your way around but in this post, I chose the most important relics that are worth seeing. All are worth seeing but the ones listed in this post are what people are drawn to the most.
Buy the guidebook and map only for souvenirs since I think you can look up most things online.
It can get really hot in there so make sure you’re able to take off your cardigan and jumper. There’s a Starbucks opposite the museum where you can buy a Frappucino after the tour.
Check back on the website here for future exhibitions and talks.
Click for more Free Things to do in London.
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Click for other Free Museums and Galleries.
So there you have it, 8 things to see in the British Museum. I took the British Museum for granted before but when I planned all the items I wanted to see, it became easier to spend two hours here, not even half a day. I thought spending half a day was too much for me and I got tired after two hours of walking up and down.
The British Museum has been an eye opener for me because there were items I didn’t know existed in the world and even though I would love to spend all my time here, I didn’t have the time and energy to.
After visiting the museum, it’s not far from Shaftesbury Avenue where the theatre district is. There is also a British pub across the road where they serve fish and chips so if you’re hungry after the tour, grab yourself fish and chips.
Till next time!!!!