The collections of Ice Age (Pleistocene) vertebrate material are of national importance.
The Dove Holes material was collected in 1903 and includes remains of sabre tooth cat, mastodon and hyena.
The cave material from the Manifold Valley on the Derbyshire / Staffordshire border was collected by the Peakland Archaeological Society (PAS) from sites including:
- Thor's Fissure
- Elder Bush Cave
- Fox Hole Cave
- Sycamore Cave
The museum also holds significant finds from Creswell Crags on the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire border.
The prehistoric material covers the period of Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation. It comes from locations of both local and national significance, including Arbor Low.
The Waterhouse collection includes microliths from Kinder Scout and Edale.
Many of the collections were accumulated at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. While published, much of the material has little further documentation.
The Romano-British collections include artefacts from Peak District forts, particularly:
- Melandra, near Glossop (excavated by Manchester University)
- Poole's Cavern (excavated by PAS)
- Carsington Reservoir
In 2014 the National Trust loaned us the recently discovered Reynard's Kitchen Cave Hoard, from Dovedale. This is displayed in the Wonders of the Peak gallery.
The museum has been able to buy items declared as treasure for the collections, including the Kirk Ireton Hoard of medieval coins.