Being a small island, Britain is steeped in history. From Neolithic times to the Romans, Medieval to the Victorians, the trace of ancestors who came before us is written indelibly into the landscape of our cities and countryside.

With many historic sites now open to the public, you can trace the history of Britain through some of the visits on our coach holiday itineraries and find out more about the lives of people from days gone by. Here are some of our favourites!

SKARA BRAE – NEOLITHIC ERA (5000 years ago)

Skara Brae is a neolithic settlement consisting of ten clustered houses located on the Bay of Skaill, Orkney. It was occupied from roughly 3180 BC to 2500 BC and is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza. It lay buried beneath the sands for centuries until a severe storm in 1850 uncovered the remains of the village

One of the things we found fascinating about visiting the site is how primitive, yet familiar it was. Many of the aspects of every day life were very similar to how we live today!

VINDOLANDA – ROMAN ERA (2000 years ago)

We have SO many places that have such a wealth of history from the Roman period that it’s hard to choose a favourite…. But, we do like Vindolanda, the site of a Roman auxillary fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall. It dates from 85AD and has been the source of many artefacts depicting life in Roman Britain. One of the most exciting finds here was the Vindolanda Tablets, which were the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain at the time of their discovery

SUTTON HOO – ANGLO-SAXON ERA (1400 YEARS AGO)

The discovery of the Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Sutton Hoo in 1939 was a historic discovery that quite literally changed our entire understanding of an era which was thought to be quite primitive, but turned out to be culturally sophisticated

Dating back to roughly 625AD, the burial chamber was full of treasures. The diversity of items showed that the people of the time were involved with travel and trade over great distances, and included goods from the Byzantine Empire, Egypt and across Europe

One of the most famous discoveries was the Sutton Hoo Helmet, which had been broken into over 100 fragments and took the team at the British Museum many years to reconstruct. A replica helmet can be seen at Sutton Hoo today

WINDSOR CASTLE – NORMAN ERA (1000 YEARS AGO)

Windsor Castle is England’s largest inhabited castle and was the favourite home of the late Queen Elizabeth II. The first castle on this site was built by William the Conqueror in 1070 and though many different phases of building have taken place over the centuries, the Norman motte-and-bailey layout is still at the heart of the castle to this day

YORK SHAMBLES – MEDIEVAL ERA (600 YEARS AGO)

No one can visit York without venturing down the Shambles, filled with timber-framed buildings that overhang the street. The word Shambles is an obsolete term for an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market, and in 1885, no fewer than 31 butchers’ shops were located along the street. Today it has gained even more popularity as the reputed inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter book series

PONTCYSYLLTE AQUEDUCT – GEORGIAN ERA (200 YEARS AGO)

As the Industrial Revolution began in earnest, great feats of engineering spread across the landscape. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was one such as this: completed in 1805 and taking ten years to build, it is the longest aqueduct in Britain and the highest canal aqueduct in the world. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be enjoyed by canal boat trip from Llangollen, as well as on foot or bike

ELAN VALLEY RESERVOIRS – VICTORIAN / EDWARDIAN ERA (130 YEARS AGO)

The beautiful Elan Valley in mid Wales is home to a fascinating example of Victorian engineering. The four manmade lakes were created to provide clean drinking water to Birmingham, with construction on the dams and reservoirs beginning in 1893. Over 100 people were forced to move from the valleys which were to be flooded, with all buildings demolished. The aqueduct supplying water via gravity to the city was officially opened by King Edward VII in 1904

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