About our collections


For 300 years the Library has been at the heart of the Society, helping to shape our understanding of the past.

The Library is the largest antiquarian library in the country, with an outstanding collection of more than 130,000 books dating from the fifteenth century to the present day, monograph series, approximately 3000 current and historic journal titles, manuscripts and archives, and prints and drawings.

It covers British and European archaeology, architectural history, art history and the decorative arts (especially medieval), the historic environment, and British local history. Its collection of county historical and archaeological publications is one of the most comprehensive in the country, as its collection of European journals.

Our special collections include 2,000 proclamations from 1464 to the mid-nineteenth century, 1,000 broadsides including a printed indulgence from 1513, the Lowther collection of Civil War tracts, the Fairholt Collection on pageantry, the Prattinton Collection on Worcestershire, the Jackson Collection on Wiltshire, the Willson Collection on Lincolnshire, the archives of the Society of Dilettanti and the Roxburghe Club Library.

You can explore highlighted objects from our collections with our ‘Collection Highlights’ series.

Museum Collections

The Society has two Accredited museum collections; one is held at Burlington House in London and the other at Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds.

Collections at Burlington House

Before the middle of the nineteenth-century the Society was often seen by Fellows as the most appropriate place to deposit antiquities and pictures. The collections contain 50,000 objects ranging from prehistoric, classical and medieval antiquities, seal matrices and impressions, and paintings, as well as items relating to the history of the Society. Highlights include items such as a Bronze Age shield from Ayrshire and a medieval processional cross from the site of the Battle of Bosworth, as well as an outstanding group of early panel paintings