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Dover, England has thousands of years of history. Dover was first settled back in the Stone Age when what is now the English Channel was a land bridge. It has been an important place of trade & defense ever since. The Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery provides an excellent overview of the history of Dover from the earliest peoples to the modern era, with exhibits about important groups & events such as the Romans & the World War II evacuation of Dunkirk. If you’re visiting Dover on a day trip or have some time while visiting there on a group tour, it’s worth a stop.

The Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery is free to visit, so even if you don’t have a ton of time, you can still pop in for a few minutes. It’s accessed via the tourist information center.

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Dover Museum exhibits

While some local museums can be tiny, the Dover Museum consists of 3 floors. Topics cover everything from the first settlements of Britain to the first Roman landings over 2,000 years ago to the evacuation of Dunkirk across the English Channel during World War II.

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The ground floor starts with archaeological finds from around Dover. This Dover Archaeology Gallery has items from the Stone Age & Bronze Age, as well as the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Normans. This area of England has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years, so plenty of artifacts have been found. In fact, even nowadays, there’s more archaeological work being undertaken in the Market Square outside the museum.

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On the middle floor of the Dover Museum, there is a space devoted to special exhibitions. When I visited, the space had a gallery about the Dunkirk evacuation.

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Finally, the top floor covers Dover’s history since the Middle Ages. Here there are exhibits about important historical periods through the 20th century. Given Dover’s military history, much of the information pertains to that aspect of the area, including information about Dover Castle, the Western Heights, and World War II.

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There are also models showing how Dover looked through the centuries.

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If you take the stairs, the stairwells also host exhibitions, covering topics such as English Channel swimmers & smuggling. And beware of the polar bear!

Bronze Age Boat Gallery

The highlight of the Dover Museum is the Bronze Age Boat Gallery. The Bronze Age Boat of Dover is the world’s oldest surviving seagoing vessel. It was built around 1575–1520 BC.

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In 1992, construction workers building the A20 road made a remarkable discovery. Not far from where the Dover Museum sits today, they found the wooden remnants of a boat. Construction was temporarily halted in order to record & recover the remarkably preserved boat. Given the delicate condition of the Bronze Age boat, it was removed in pieces. You can read about the full details of the archaeological dig here.

What remains today has been reassembled at the Dover Museum. It’s incredible to consider that this boat traversed the English Channel over 3,500 years ago.

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It’s not known how much of the full boat this 9.5-meter remnant encompasses. Historians can only guess what the full vessel may have looked like. At any rate, what remains today is impressive.

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The Dover Museum & Bronze Age Boat Gallery is an excellent local museum. If you’re taking a day trip to Dover, stop by and check it out.

Here are some great Dover area tours & other things to see & do in Dover.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Dover, check out these Dover hotels.

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