Aldborough has been noted for its Roman relics throughout the ages, but at one time little value was attached to them and many have perished, including a number of mosaic pavements known to have been in existence until at least 1730.

In the nineteenth century the historic value of the site was more fully recognised. Andrew Lawson, who owned Aldborough Manor, encouraged antiquarian excavations in his grounds leading to a considerable collection of Roman artefacts.In 1863 at a meeting in Leeds of the British Archaeological Association his son, Andrew Sherlock Lawson, invited the delegates to visit the newly established museum in the grounds of the manor.The Lawson family encouraged the public to visit the museum.

In 1948 Lady Lawson – Tancred transferred the museum and its contents , together with part of the manor grounds, to the guardianship of the nation. In 1964 the current museum building was erected and the original building relegated to that of a storeroom.┬áToday the museum and grounds are administered by English Heritage and are part of the English Heritage Roman Aldborough Site.

It is possibly one of the oldest museums started by a private collector and is currently open at weekends and on Bank Holidays from Easter until the end of September.