Group of people looking at gateway to the world exhibit

Gateway to the World

Southampton, the gateway to the rest of the World.

Did you know that for hundreds of thousands of years, Southampton has stood as one of the key gateways to the rest of the world?

Its unique positioning means that for over 200,000 years, the city has been a centre for activity: a landing spot and a point for departure, welcoming countless people from all over the world. Many of these people were traders who chose to settle here, while others were seeking refuge or simply passing through as they fought wars and fled persecution.

What were these people doing? Where did they come from? What vibrant new ways of living did they bring with them?

Gateway to the World explores precisely this. As you wander through the gallery and exhibition, you will encounter tales of the travellers from every corner of the globe who came to Southampton and the impact that they had. From Roman traders to Saxon settlers, Victorian industrialists to Huguenot Protestants, the city has seen countless comings and goings and boasts a rich tapestry of historic and cultural stories.

Explore ancient and artefacts and take part in interactive activities as you witness a glimpse of life through the ages here in Southampton.

Sea city Visitor looking at exhibition
Encounter the huge array of individuals that came to Southampton as well as the present-day residents that make it such a multi-cultural and vibrant city.
Prehistoric axes in a cabinet
See historic artefacts from around 250,000BC onwards and take in the movement and sound of the city through film and audio interpretation.
Man and Woman looking at Gateway to the world exhibit
Witness the full breadth of the city in context on our interactive map which reveals the development of Southampton: from small stone age settlements through to the walled mediaeval town over to present day

Did you know?

  • In the Middle Ages, Southampton became one of England’s major ports – the city still boasts remnants of its mediaeval history.
  • Archaeological findings suggest that Southampton has been inhabited since the Stone Ages – the city has a LOT of stories under its belt!
  • Southampton was a huge target during Second World War, with 476 tons of bombs were dropped on the city by the Luftwaffe. Over 600 people in Southampton were killed by bombs and more than 4,000 houses were destroyed.
Man and Woman looking at Gateway to the world exhibit

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