As museums fill up, England's archaeological history gathers dust.

Ancient artifacts unearthed during construction and infrastructure projects are gathering dust in warehouses because England's museums lack space. 

According to archaeologists, this is a lost opportunity for people to learn about their heritage and history. 

The objects range from exquisite Roman metalwork to pottery from the Bronze Age.

During a regeneration project near the Shard in Southwark, London's largest mosaic find in 50 years was discovered, and archaeologists working on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway discovered a vast, wealthy Roman trading settlement.

According to Historic England, however, museums may soon run out of space for such artifacts. A report commissioned by the public body and Arts Council England indicates that if they do not acquire additional storage space, the amount of material extracted from the ground will soon exceed the available storage space.

Although Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have different approaches to the management of archaeological finds, all three have reported storage issues that are similar. 

Numerous museums have ceased collecting archaeological records. This means that they are hidden from public view, although many contractors provide access to researchers who wish to examine them.

According to the Society of Museum Archaeologists, fewer than half of museums in England currently have an archaeological curator. 

At least a quarter of the excavations conducted by archaeological contractors in England produce collections that never make it to a museum, according to Historic England and Arts Council England

This means that contractors are responsible for their storage, but are ill-equipped to display the objects to the public, although some do try to make them accessible to local communities.

Historic England, Arts Council England, and National Trust are in preliminary discussions to advise the government on the creation of a national archive that, according to them, could solve the storage problem for the next century. It is unknown whether the government will provide funding for this solution. 

Historic England is concerned that if storage space runs out, councils may no longer be able to compel developers to excavate sites of archaeological interest, which would result in the permanent loss of a great deal of history. 

An innovative solution to the storage problem has been to return artifacts to their original location underground.

Cambridgeshire County Council has enlisted the services of Deepstore, an underground storage facility located in a former salt mine in Cheshire, to store their 20,000 boxes of historical artifacts, which they can retrieve as needed. 

The University of Cambridge's After the Plague project has requested hundreds of boxes of human remains from their Deepstore collection that were interred at the Hospital of St. John in Cambridge.

Finds from the stores can also be loaned to museums for temporary exhibitions, such as the current display at the Ely museum of items from two graves at the burial site of a possible Saxon princess. This exhibition features artifacts from the Deepstore collection, including an ancient brooch and amethyst necklace beads.