In terms of ancient history, Swindon is best known for its importance during the times of the Anglo-Saxons. Surrounded by key defensible settlements, ‘pig hill,’ as it was once known, proved to be a marker on the map that Vikings continually struggled to reach. As a result, much of the historical works and exhibits in the town are focussed on those glory days in the founding of a united England.
Still, one of the most interesting areas of archaeological research that draw interest in these parts is Egyptology. Ancient Egyptian society has fascinated us since we sent canaries into the deepest darkest tombs of the pharaohs under the pyramids. While not directly tied to the ancient civilisation, there was even a wildly popular club in the 90s in Swindon by the name of Cairo’s, which now hosts Laser Quest.
While there isn’t a whole lot by way of ancient Egyptian points of interest in Swindon, there are a few ways that you can tap into the fascinating era. One way would be to go to the Arts Society Kennet & Swindon for The Art of the Pharaohs event, which features the renowned archaeologist and egyptologist Lucia Gahlin on 16 February 2023.
An ever-lasting fascination with ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt, its secrets, and what we know about the civilisation are all superbly fascinating. Pharaohs would force their subject to build some of the greatest structures ever known to mankind, while the people would pray to gods with heads of felines, jackals, crocodiles, falcons, and other animals. The setting has certainly inspired creatives to adventure into the tombs and ancient lands.
Back in 1999, the local cinema – when it was still a Virgin cinema and just a handful of months before it rebranded again to UGC – The Mummy would have been watched by hundreds if not thousands of people in Swindon. With Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Omid Djalili, the campy action is fondly remembered as one of the better ancient Egyptian movies – especially after Tom Cruise’s The Mummy.
From the big to the smallest screens, ancient Egypt continues to be a huge draw in the libraries of online casino games. Two of the 14 games featuring in the Trending section of The Clubhouse Casino are heavily themed on ancient Egypt. The perpetual favourite Book of Dead is in the number-one spot with its distinctly Fraser-like main character, Rich Wilde, while Doom of Egypt’s Anubis head continued to draw in spinners.
Feeding the fascination in Swindon
If you want to see an ancient Egyptian exhibit in Swindon – as well as several other fascinating historical finds, you’d best turn to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. Set to re-open in the Swindon Civic Buildings, within its Heritage Collections, you can examine the collection of ceramics and mummies. The Egyptology section contains pre-dynastic ceramics, mummified hands, flints from the age, and a mummy to make for an intriguing little set.
If you can’t make it down to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery or just want to check out the exhibits before it re-opens, they created a 3D virtual tour of the galleries. On the website, under Archaeology, you’ll find the link to the Wyvern 3D tour of what’s now their previous archaeology gallery. As well as seeing the artefacts, you can click on the dots to get more information about each display.
Swindon’s history may be entrenched in the battles of the Anglo-Saxons, but there’s still a great amount of interest here in the ancient Egyptians. If you’re interested in the mighty African civilisation, be sure to attend Lucia Gahlin’s event and explore the collection at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery when it opens again.