Top 10 Historical Sites in the UK
Historical sites are perfect for great days out with the family. Fortunately for history lovers, Britain is littered with a huge selection to choose from, but it does make it rather difficult to decide where to visit first!
So we asked around the Historic UK office and came up with our ‘Top Ten’: see if you agree!
In no particular order:
After 5,000 years the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is still a unique and awe-inspiring day out with the kids or family; an exceptional survivor from a culture now lost to us. The monument evolved between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC and is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices, but its exact purpose remains a mystery.
Home to the Crown Jewels, Yeoman Warders (known to you and I as ‘Beefeaters’) and the legendary ravens, The Tower of London has lots to offer for a day out for the kids or family. Her Royal Majesty’s Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, to give it its full title, was founded just after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The White Tower in the centre of the fortress was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. Used as a prison since the 12th century, the Tower has played an important part in the history of England.
Another castle built by William the Conqueror, this time in 1068, Warwick was later remodelled in stone in the 12th century. Warwick Castle was home to the powerful Earls of Warwick, including Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, nicknamed ‘The Kingmaker’ for his role during the Wars of the Roses. Over the centuries several of the Earls of Warwick met untimely and violent deaths, including one executed for high treason in the Tower of London!
At Warwick Castle you can immerse yourself in a thousand years of jaw-dropping history – come rain or shine. Now owned by Merlin Entertainments, the castle boasts life-size tableaux, stunning interiors, the Castle Dungeon and much, much more. And you can even spend the night here!
4. Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Also situated in Warwickshire – just down the road, actually – is the picturesque riverside town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, which would be a tourist destination in its own right even if it wasn’t for the fact that a certain Elizabethan playwright was born there! The birthplace of William Shakespeare attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year from all around the globe. Among the town’s many attractions, you can visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace (pictured above); New Place where he died in 1616; the church where he is buried; Ann Hathaway’s Cottage and his mother Mary Arden’s house just outside the town. And no visit would be complete without attending a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the famous Theatre on the banks of the River Avon.
‘The loveliest Castle in the world’. Bring the whole family for a day out to Leeds Castle with your Key to the Castle ticket and journey through 900 years of captivating history. Open all year round, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Why not prolong your visit with a B&B overnight stay in the Stable Courtyard Bedrooms?
5. St Paul’s Cathedral, London
This famous dome dominates London’s skyline, and is England’s architectural masterpiece and place of national celebration. The present cathedral was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren and competed in 1710 but a cathedral has stood on this site since 604AD.
This historic fortress, set high on the volcanic crag known as Castle Rock, towers above the capital city of Scotland. A favourite tourist destination, Edinburgh Castle is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels (the Honours of Scotland). Since 1996, it has also been home to the Stone of Destiny, following its return to Scotland from Westminster.
Built by King Edward I in the 13th century, Caernarfon Castle boasts a magnificent 13 towers and is one of the most impressive medieval fortresses in Britain. This massive castle is superbly situated, with the River Seiont and the Menai Strait on two sides forming perfect natural defenses. In 1969, Caernarfon Castle was the setting for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.
In around AD122, the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of an immense wall stretching over 80 Roman miles from the east coast of Britain to the west. This impressive structure was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987…
10. Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, it enjoys a stunning situation in a tranquil valley beside a river. Although a victim of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey church survives almost to full height.
For even more historical days out be sure to check out our interactive maps of cathedrals, battlefields and Anglo-Saxon sites in Britain.
We would also love to hear from you about your favourite historical sites in England. Please leave us a comment in the box below!