Help to write the history of Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum for newly commissioned book


Scarborough Museums Trust are delighted to announce the commission of a new book on the history of Scarborough’s beloved Rotunda Museum.

The trust is calling on residents and visitors to provide their first-hand experiences and memories of the Rotunda to help bring the book to life.

The book is being produced to mark the 250th anniversary of the death of William Smith, who worked at Hackness Hall and became known as the ‘Father of English Geology’ due to his pioneering work in Geology during the early 1800’s. In 1815, he produced the first geological map of Britain which went on to become ‘The Map that Changed the World’ and inspired the book of the same name.


William Smith spent a lot of time studying rock formations on the Yorkshire coast and especially around Scarborough. He became involved in the design and building of the museum which was to become the Rotunda Museum. The geological and archaeological museum, which is believed to be one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the world still being used for its original purpose, opened in 1829 and has welcomed visitors from across the globe.

Writing the book is Dr Stuart Davies of the University of Lincoln. Dr Davies has produced other museum histories in Yorkshire and Birmingham and is using documents from Scarborough’s libraries and archives to write The Rotunda’s history. In addition to this, Davies is calling out for people’s personal recollections to enliven the dry details of official records.

Commenting on the book, Dr Davies said: “The reminiscences of people who used the museum or worked there can make a genuine and exciting contribution to the story.”

Jennifer Dunne, Collections Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust commented: “It’s extremely rewarding to be involved in such a momentous project, documenting and preserving the history of the iconic Rotunda Museum. The museum and its awe-inspiring collections have been a part of the Scarborough landscape for 189 years and it has welcomed many famous visitors. We’re looking forward to receiving some fascinating stories, memories and anecdotes from our visitors.”

If you think that you might be able to help, please email Jim Middleton from Scarborough Museums Trust at Alternatively, you can email Dr Davies directly at