Have you visited the new Ashmolean Museum in Oxford yet? Summer will be a great time to visit. The museum’s education team has lots of events for adults and children planned — July is ‘Prehistory Month’ for instance — and with sunshine streaming into the central atrium, filtered cleverly into the spacious new galleries, the transformed museum will be at its magical best.

The museum has been attracting record visitors since reopening in November following a multi-million pound redevelopment. On an average day well over 3,000 visitors come through its doors.

The architect, Rick Mather, has performed a bit of a miracle with the redesign, somehow shoehorning twice the amount of display space into the same ground area. Even more incredibly, you can hardly tell this big extension is there — seen from the streets outside there’s barely a hint of it behind C R Cockerell’s neoclassical 1845 building.

One of the best ways to get to know the new Ashmolean is to follow your eyes. The design works perfectly for this. The bright airy spaces, internal windows, glass walls and bridges, entice you from room to room, floor to floor, up and down the attractive new stairways. You spot an object over there, up there, through a window, and off you go to find it — and on your way you see loads more.

Another great way is to seek out certain objects — and what better than to look for something that was found in your own village, town or locality?

There are items on show from all over the county, north, south, east and west, and Oxford city. Whether Bicester or Bampton, Watlington or Wallingford, Thame or Oddington, North Hinksey or North Leigh, Standlake or Spelsbury (to name but a few), no matter where you live, you will find something in the museum from your area.

Some take on the name of the place they were found: the Abingdon sword, the Wittenham sword or Wittenham shield, the Sandford reliquary, the Thame reliquary ring, the Uffington turms, the Cuddesdon bowl, Radley earrings, Ipsden strap ends, the Minster Lovell jewel and so on.

Some items come with great stories attached. Such as the jar of coins known as the Chalgrove Hoard, which is in the Money gallery (Room 7, lower ground floor) — a great place for local finds.

With coins spilling out of the jar, the hoard makes an eye-catching display. There are other hoards too, plus individual coins found locally. The Chalgrove Hoard hit the national headlines in 2004, when the discovery proved the existence of a new Roman emperor. In April 2003, local metal detectorist Brian Malin, known to the museum from finding a hoard before, unearthed virtually intact a hoard of 5,000 silver coins in a jar from farmland at Chalgrove near Wallingford.

The coins, dating to around AD 271, had fused together over time. Once cleaned and separated, one of them was seen to show the head and name of a previously unheard of emperor: Domitianus. This proved that an earlier coin found in France 100 years ago was genuine and that Domitianus had existed.

The Chalgrove coin shows in profile a man with a beard and spiked crown evoking the rays of the sun. Domitianus only ruled for a few days at the most – probably the result of an attempted coup, quickly crushed – but long enough to have coins minted! Ashmolean curator Chris Howgego talks about the find on the audio guide.

The Money gallery is interactive, and fun to visit. There’s a shove ha’penny game to play, and magnifying glasses to look at all those details, the rulers’ heads, inscriptions, the Britannias on the back of some coins (the Romans were the first to create images of Britannia), animals on others.

A display of ‘Money made locally’ includes coins from Bampton, Banbury, Broughton, Watlington, Wallingford and Henley on Thames, as well as a century old £10 banknote from the Old Bank in Oxford’s High Street.

The two other local coin hoards are: the Didcot Hoard, a rare find of 126 gold coins from the first two centuries of Roman rule, discovered in 1995 with the aid of a metal detector (on long-term loan to the Ashmolean from the British Museum); and the Broughton Castle Hoard, a stash of silver coins buried at the start of the English Civil War, hidden away most probably when the castle was attacked and taken by Royalists in 1642.

This has coins in it from the reigns of Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, plus some from Spain that they think were brought over to use as payments in support of Charles I in the war.

There is also a single gold coin from Finstock on show that the curator says is arguably the most important ever found in Oxfordshire. Struck in Judaea in AD 70, it has the Emperor Vespasian on one side and the figure of Justitia on the other.

The original label, handwritten by Martha Spriggs, the collector who made the discovery, says: “Finstock, about three miles from the Roman Villa at North Leigh where about 1850 my Roman gold coin of Vespasian was dug up by a poor man whilst ploughing a field.”

The Oxford Crown, yet another highlight of the Ashmolean’s coin and medal collection, was minted in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, in 1644 during the English Civil War when Charles I was in Oxford among his supporters while London was in the hands of Parliament. War is costly. Needing funds to pay for his court and soldiers, Charles had Oxford colleges donate their collections of silver plate to be melted down into money.

One side of the silver coin shows the king on horseback — it is as if he is astride the city. A tower under the raised front leg of the king’s mount looks like Magdalen or Merton Tower, and the tiny houses are like those in Holywell or Merton Street. The audio guide tells us how several colleges tried to get out of losing their silver.

As good as the Money gallery is, you can’t stop there. The England gallery (Room 41, on the second floor) is another great place for local finds.

The England gallery has its stock of stories too. Take the Cuddesdon bowl, for instance. I love this little bowl. It is Anglo-Saxon, made of blue glass with simple trailed decoration, from around AD 600 and probably Kentish in origin.

It was discovered in a grave at Cuddesdon, south-east of Oxford, in 1847 when a palace for the Bishop of Oxford, then Samuel Wilberforce, was being built.

Other items found with it, such as jewelled lyre fittings, suggest it was the burial place of a noble. Later in its history, the bowl was sold and went who knows where, only to turn up again in 1971 spotted by a keen eyed archaeologist on a mantelpiece in Northamptonshire. It was holding primroses - the yellow no doubt looking very pretty against the brilliant blue.

Talking of Anglo-Saxon finds, the Staffordshire Hoard will be fresh in your mind. This amazing find, discovered last year (and temporarily on show to those who queued at Birmingham recently), offers huge insights into our Anglo-Saxon heritage.

The Ashmolean also has some wonderful Anglo-Saxon treasures on show, each and every one of them adding to the stock of knowledge of the period. Anglo-Saxon archaeology is an important part of the Ashmolean’s history and collections. Much of this comes courtesy of a prolific excavator in Oxfordshire, E T Leeds, a keeper at the museum from 1908-1945, an archaeologist and scholar celebrated for his Anglo-Saxon studies.

Links on the Ashmolean’s website take you to a list of sites excavated by Leeds plus other Anglo-Saxon sites in the county. And to an Anglo-Saxon Discovery website for children: Art flourished in Anglo-Saxon England. Expert craftsmen worked in wood, stone and ivory, textiles, illuminated books, and metalwork using bronze, silver and gold, often making magnificent jewellery. Superb examples survive.

The Minster Lovell jewel in the Ashmolean’s England gallery is one. Made of gold and enamel in the 9th century, it was found around 1860 at Minster Lovell to the west of Witney. It is shown in the same display case as the Alfred Jewel, an unparalleled treasure of the museum (found in Somerset in 1693). It is likely the two jewels were made in the same workshop as they are of similar high standard.

The gallery also has two late Saxon silver and gold Strap Ends richly decorated with plant-scroll ornament, from Ipsden (near Henley); gold glass and garnet jewelled pendants from Standlake; a disc brooch from Milton; saucer and square-headed brooches from Cassington and Brighthampton, a sword and scabbard mounts from there too; and along with yet more saucer brooches from Frilford, more prosaically, some tooth picks and an ear scoop.

Two more highlights of Room 41 include the magnificent gold, amethyst and enamel reliquary ring found near Thame in 1940, dredged from the river along with other rings, and the Abingdon sword. Although this is only a fragment of a sword and hilt — the iron blade is broken off, probably the result of a fight — the Abingdon sword is quite special.

Dating from about AD 875, late Anglo-Saxon, it was found in 1874 at Bogs Mills near Abingdon (identified in the 1950s as Buggs Mill on the River Ock, about a mile above the town centre). It has terrific motifs on it that include interlacing animals, the symbols of the Evangelists, and on the pommel, two fragmentary outward-looking animal heads (it is hard to see the detail, but there is a good picture in the new Ashmolean guidebook).

This is a type of decoration traditionally associated with King Alfred the Great (the Wantage born King of Wessex), so the Abingdon sword may well have been made in Alfred’s court workshops at his capital, Winchester.

Oxford city finds include a little medieval chimney pot with the face of a gnome and tongue poking out, found in the High Street during excavations for new buildings at Brasenose College in the 19th century; a Puzzle Jug from the 1300s from the Town Hall site; a pair of Viking stirrups from the river near Magdalen Bridge where there used to be a Danish village, just outside town; and a 12th century crucified Christ figure from the site of the former Saint Frideswide’s chapel (now the Christ Church Cathedral site).

Also, the lockable iron band used to restrain Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the key from the Bocardo prison at the old north gate of the city where the Oxford Martyrs — Bishops Latimer and Ridley, and Cranmer — were held awaiting trial and execution in Oxford in the 1550s. (Cranmer’s prison band also features on the audio guide).

Of medieval finds, there is a pitchfork from North Hinksey, shears from Blewbury, and a money box from Oxford.

In the Rome gallery (Room 13) there is a whole cabinet on the Woodeaton Roman Sanctuary including a small bronze votive figure of Venus from 1st to 2nd century AD; objects from the Shakenoak Roman villa and farm, including a lead drainpipe; from a burial at Dorchester-on-Thames; and evidence of Roman industry, jars from the many pottery kilns that once were found in the hills around the city, places like Boar’s Hill, Cowley, Sandford, Sunningwell.

Going right back in time into prehistory, I then went to the European Prehistory gallery (Room 17) to see what local finds were there. Its curator, Alison Roberts, told me the big three Oxfordshire objects to look out for are the Wittenham Sword and Shield, and the Beaker grave group from Radley with its sheet gold earrings —which are among the oldest pieces of gold work in the country.

These are all absolutely fantastic objects. The Late Iron Age sword in its decorated bronze scabbard (the sword is corroded inside the scabbard so can’t be removed) was found in the River Thames at Days Lock, Long Wittenham.

Dating to around the middle of the first century BCE, it is one of the finest decorated scabbards in Britain. It all probability it belonged to an important warrior. And although it may have been lost in the river, it is more likely it was put there as a ritual deposit.

The Bronze Age shield has a hole in it where a spearhead pierced it. As for those Early Bronze Age finds from Radley, the cylinder shaped 4.5cm long gold basket earrings were made around 2400-2100 BC and in all probability were worn wrapped around the ears rather than through them (although they could have been hair ornaments, ‘hair-rings’).

From these examples, you can see what a wealth of locally found objects there is in our amazing Ashmolean museum. There’s more, of course, from other periods and in other rooms. It pays to keep your eyes peeled.

I hope I have whetted your appetite. And when you visit and need to take a break, remember that in addition to the café downstairs, nowadays there is also the rooftop restaurant and terrace with its views over the Oxford skyline – which will come into its own in the summer.

For more information visit the Ashmolean website: www.ashmolean.org or pick up a What’s On guide from the museum.