Although there is little evidence for a Roman presence in Durham City, many items in the Museum’s collection reflect excavations at the military sites of Binchester, Piercebridge and Hadrian's Wall. The Museum’s Roman collection is particularly fine. It contains numerous inscribed and sculpted stones, and also boast a broad range of items reflecting everyday life on the northern edge of the Roman Empire.
In addition to local finds from County Durham and the North East, the collection includes numerous coins - dating from the Republican period to the end of the 5th century AD - as well as the internationally important Oswald-Plique collection of Samian pottery from Gaul. The collection contains over 4500+ fragments of Samian pottery. This pottery formed the personal collection of Felix Oswald, one of the leading early figures in Samian pottery studies. It formed a reference for his Index of Figure Types on Terra Sigillata 1936-7. Stanfield and Simpson 1958 also used it as a reference for Central Gaulish Potters. These two works are still two standard source works in this field of research.