People have been living in Britain for over two-and-a-half million years. The country has only been an island for around 8,000 years and during that time, settlers have made their mark on the land in many ways.
An historic tour of Britain could take many different routes, such is the vast quantity of historic sites and landmarks within the country’s shores. Here are just a few places that are sure to enlighten any historian seeking to learn about the wonderfully varied, ancient story of the land we now know as Great Britain.
Wales is a great place to start any historic tour of the United Kingdom, and the many traditional Welsh cottages available to tourists provide an ideal base from which to explore this ancient part of the island. Carmarthen, in the south west of Wales, lays claim to being the oldest Welsh town, thanks to a Roman fort in the area that dates back to AD75-77. Carmarthen Castle was first built around 1094 and, despite having been destroyed at various times over the centuries, still stands today and is a great place to learn about the tumultuous history of Wales.
Nobody knows for certain the specific reasons for the building of Hadrians Wall. It has been described by English Heritage as “the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain” but whether its construction in AD 118-122 was simply a display of the Roman Empire’s strength, or a more strategic manoeuvre, remains a subject of debate amongst scholars. What remains of the wall today attracts more visitors than any other historic attraction in the north of England and can be accessed easily from many of the superb holiday cottages in Scotland and the north of England.
The prehistoric standing stones of Stonehenge in Wiltshire are famous around the world. Dating back to around 2,500 BC, the Neolithic monument is believed to have been a burial ground from its early beginnings, with cremated remains having been found at the site that date back as early as 3,000 BC. English Heritage manages the site now, and has created a visitor centre that gives tourists all the known information about this mystical landmark.
West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village
Created on an area that has been lived upon since the end of the last ice age, West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village is a living example of how pre-historic man lived in Britain. Reconstructed Anglo-Saxon dwellings were built in the 1970s to show modern tourists how people lived in West Stow as far back as 5,000 BC. The excellent visitor centre, café and shop are an essential part of any historic tour of the UK.
When the Romans set up a military camp in AD 71 and named it Eboracum, they set in motion a sequence of events that has left the United Kingdom with one of its most historic cities – the City of York. Romans gave way to Anglo-Saxons, and then Vikings, Normans and Elizabethans inhabited York along the course of a fascinating history. You can learn about this history by taking a tour of the winding alleys and cobbled streets that remain steeped in physical artefacts and remnants of York’s past.