The grass is always greener as they say and many people who travel far and wide to enjoy historical sites in other lands neglect to appreciate the marvels in their own backyard. From historic towns and castles to intriguing remains and woodlands, there is lots to be appreciated here in the UK. Here are 9 of our favourites for anyone with an interest in the history of Britain.
One of the oldest Benedict abbeys’ in England (almost 1,400 years old) Whitby Abbey is an atmospheric delight. Sitting atop a cliff’s edge above the harbor town in the Yorkshire Coast, the site gave inspiration to the Irish author Bram Stoker for his gothic novel Dracula.
Tower of London
The Tower of London has had some notable guests throughout history. Over its 900-year existence prisoners have included Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Princes in the Tower (Prince Edward V and Prince Richard of Shrewsbury), Guy Fawkes and high-profile Nazi’s Rudolf Hess and Josef Jakobs – Jakobs being the last person to be put to death at the Tower of London by firing squad in August 1941. More than 2 million people visit the Tower every year and learn it’s intriguing history.
A marvelous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world-famous basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway have long been an in-demand tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. The legend of the causeway says that the unique rock formations were created in a fight between two giants, Finn McCool and Benandonner. However, its legacy is more likely the result of volcanic eruptions over 60-million years ago. Either way, it’s one of the most unique sights on the planet.
Consistently voted one of the best castles in Britain, Warwick Castle is one of the most popular castles in the UK. Once the home to William the Conqueror the castle hosts events throughout the year including falconry displays, talks, exhibitions and battle re-enactments. It even houses a working trebuchet!
You couldn’t have a list like this without mentioning Stonehenge. Found in Avebury, Stonehenge holds a pivotal place in British culture. Many theories have been debated regarding the origins of the circular stone structure from pagan rituals and celestial observatories to involvement from aliens, but no one is sure. What we do know is that it was built in the late Neolithic period (around 2500 BC) and is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the first in the UK to be awarded such status.
Popularized as the supposed home of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is an area of natural beauty and a fantastic place to visit all year long. Its woodlands, which were used as a royal hunting area as far back as the Norman invasion of 1066, are steeped in legend. In the heart of Sherwood Forest lies the Major Oak – an 800-year-old tree which was allegedly used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s Merry Men, and Robin Hood is thought to have fired his last arrow into the forest as he lay dying – an arrow which is yet to be found among its 100,000 acres but supposedly marks his gravesite. The officially marked grave of Robin Hood lies around 650 meters from the site of Kirklees Priory, but there is debate as to whether this is the true resting place of the fabled hero.
St Fagans National History Museum
Want to get double your money? St Fagans Museum is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums and is Wales most-visited heritage attraction, but it also stands in the grounds of the amazing St Fagans Castle. In the last fifty years, 40 buildings from different historical periods have been built in the 100-acre parkland including schools, chapels, farms, houses and more which offer an insight into life in Wales of the generations. Special exhibitions are held regularly and there are various workshops with craftspeople displaying their traditional skills.
Situated in the county of Warwickshire, the sleepy riverside town of Stratford-Upon-Avon attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Home to cozy pubs, restaurants and gardens, the village is most famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Tourists can visit his childhood home where it all began, the farm of his mother Mary Arden, the home of his wife Anne Hathaway, their shared family home and take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Another attraction that would leave our list incomplete is that of Hadrians Wall. One of the most iconic sights in the UK, the wall was built by the Roman’s to ward off enemy invasions and was recently the inspiration behind George RR Martin’s best-selling books and TV-series Game of Thrones. Visitors can browse the wall’s remains, learn about life in the Roman military and visit the Sycamore Gap which featured in an important scene of the 90’s Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood featuring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
Historical sites are perfect for days out with the family, or solo-adventures. Did any of your favourites not make it into our list? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.