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News | Published: Tue 19 Jan 2010

ImageA genius's journal, a medieval manuscript and a secret coin hoard - A History of the World at the Fitzwilliam Museum

A History of the World is a partnership between the BBC, the British Museum, and 350 museums around the country. Participating museums are selecting man-made objects from their collections that tell a story not only about the region, but also of its place in the world.

To contribute to a history of Cambridgeshire, and to build up a picture of the national - even international - significance of this region across the years, The Fitzwilliam Museum has chosen three objects from its collections:

  • Sir Isaac Newton's notebook (1662 to 1669)
    A leather-bound private journal kept by Sir Isaac Newton in his twenties while at Trinity College, Cambridge, revealing not only his scientific thoughts but also what the great scientist spent his money on, including laundry, oranges and beer in a local pub. The notebook also contains his secret confessions, written in a cryptic code only deciphered in 1964.
  • The Macclesfield Psalter (c. 1330)
    This fourteenth-century illuminated manuscript is the most important of its kind to be discovered in living memory. Decorated with precious pigments and gold, and featuring charming, often bizarre illustrations, the Psalter was produced in East Anglia at a time when the region was one of the foremost artistic centres of Europe.
  • The Chesterton Lane coin hoard (c.1350)
    An extraordinary collection of 13th and 14th century coins, discovered in 2000 under a Cambridge street. Totalling 1,805 silver pennies and nine gold coins - approximately £5,000 in today’s currency - this hoard was mysteriously buried by an unknown person in a secret hole beneath a floor, just after the Black Death.

Kate Carreno, Assistant Director of The Fitzwilliam Museum said, "We are all very excited to be part of the national launch of A History of the World. It is an immensely powerful project that will introduce people up and down the country to the treasures on their doorstep and the museums that safeguard them for the public to enjoy, and engage people with the stories they have to tell."

Pick up a fact sheet from one of the information desks during your visit, or download the document

Find out more about A History of the World, where to get involved at how to add your own object on the BBC Cambridgeshirewebsite