Romans, castles and heaps of history. English Heritage attractions

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

One of two World Heritage Sites in Cumbria, the 73 mile long Roman Wall straddled the country from Bowness-on-Solway (to the west of Carlisle) to Wallsend near Newcastle. It is the most important monument that the Romans left behind in Britain. Construction began in about AD122 and within 12 years the task was pretty well complete, ’a testament to the planning genius of the emperor, and the skill and power of his army’. An 84 mile National Trail - the Hadrian’s Wall Path - follows the route through magnificent countryside in Cumbria and Northumberland.www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald was one of the most important of the 16 forts along Hadrian’s Wall, with up to a thousand soldiers once garrisoned here. The visitor centre does an excellent job of filling in the history and importance of the site which was home to workshops, granaries (for provisions), a drill hall or basilica, living quarters, the perimeter wall and main gateways. A fine stretch of the wall lies to the east of the fort. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/birdoswald-roman-fort-hadrians-wall

Lanercost Priory

Lanercost Priory

It’s difficult to imagine this quiet, idyllic spot Brampton being the centre of the English kingdom but for six months over the winter of 1306-7, Edward I based himself at this priory near Brampton. Founded in the 1160s, its monastic life was ended by the Dissolution of the Monasteries almost 400 years later. Part of the building was converted into a house while the north aisle was used as a parish church. The rest was allowed to fall into a ruin. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lanercost-priory

Furness Abbey

Furness Abbey

Even as a ruin you get a strong sense of the power that this abbey must have wielded in its heyday. Founded in the 1120s near Barrow, it became the second most prosperous Cistercian monastery in England after Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. At its peak there may have been 250-300 people based here which explains the scale of the buildings and the wonderful carvings on some of the stonework. The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s signalled the end of 400 years of influence. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/furness-abbey

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg is one of the most important stone circles in Britain, its 38 Borrowdale volcanic rocks placed here some 3,000 years BC. 28 of the rocks form a ring and the other ten make up a rectangular area within it. The site - about one mile east of Keswick off the A591 - is much visited, chiefly for its atmosphere and the mystery which the stones exude. Not forgetting the glorious views of Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Blencathra. Picture: Nina Claridge. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/castlerigg-stone-circle

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

Built on the ruins of a Roman fort, the castle is an imposing reminder of centuries of strife along the Anglo-Scottish border. It’s been besieged ten times in its history (the last time in 1745), it was a launch pad for Edward I’s invasion of Scotland in the 13th century and in 1568 a temporary prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. The oldest and most atmospheric part is the stone keep, begun under Henry I (1100-35). The castle is also home to Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/carlisle-castle

Stott Park Bobbin Mill

Stott Park Bobbin Mill

For a time this was one of more than 65 mills of its kind in the Lake District, turning out a quarter of a million bobbins a week. Many headed to the Lancashire textile industry for use as spools for cotton thread. The mill - at the southern end of Windermere (lake) - also made other items such as tool handles and duffel coat toggles. Production ceased in 1971 but it’s still an evocative place. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stott-park-bobbin-mill

Shap Abbey

Shap Abbey

Who knows how the the Premonstratensians or White Canons happened on this serene and secluded site near Shap, but for a life of austerity and contemplation it couldn’t be bettered. Founded in the late 12th century, beside the River Lowther, the monks way of life came to a close in 1540 when Henry VIII had them evicted and the abbey sold. The outline of the buildings can still be clearly seen, the west tower almost as high as when it was built around 1500. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/shap-abbey

Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle

A formidable stronghold in its prime and a place that was grand enough for Edward I to stay at in July 1300. James I was here for a couple of nights as well in 1617. Built beside the River Eamont near Penrith, the earliest part of the castle - the keep - dates back to the 13th century. For about 400 years the property was in the hands of the Clifford family, Lady Anne Clifford restoring the castle in the 1650s after years of neglect. www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/brougham-castle

And more

And more

Brough Castle (pictured), Penrith Castle, a base in the 1470s for Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, Countess Pillar near Brougham, erected by Lady Anne Clifford in 1654 to commemorate the last parting from her mother, Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, 38 years before, Ravenglass Roman Bath House, Ambleside Roman Fort, King Arthur’s Round Table and Mayburgh Henge, both near Penrith, and Piel Castle near Barrow, a 14th century fortress accessible only via a small boat ferry.

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