Top 5 historic sites in the Cotswolds

Top 5 historic sites in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are a great area for those of you who like to get out and about. There is some incredible scenery around, and hidden amongst the rolling countryside and quaint little towns you'll find evidence of the area's long and interesting past. Find ancient burial sites or discover just how important Corinium (modern-day Cirencester) was to the Romans. To decide which historic place to visit first, here's our list of top five places!

1. Hetty Peglar's Tump

The Stroud Valleys are dotted with the remains of settlements from as early as the Neolithic period and Iron Age. The countryside is rich in history with over a hundred burial grounds in the Cotswolds.

Hetty Pegler's Tump, also known as Uley Long Barrow, can be found in an area of grassland close to Nympsfield. Despite predating 3000 BCE the burial mound is still in wonderful condition and still roofed, so you can crawl right inside.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

From pieces of animal bone found around the site it is obvious that the barrow was used for ritual practices and was an important place for people to communicate with the deceased.

How to find it?

Sitting in a patch of the countryside between Uley and Nympsfield, the long barrow can be reached off the B4066. Travel down the M5 from Buckland Court.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/hetty-peglers-tump

2. Chedworth Roman Villa

This incredible historic site is just outside of Cheltenham. It consists of the remains of one of the largest Romano-British villas in the country and is set in a beautiful wooded valley.

Built over a number of stages between the 2nd and the 4th centuries, there still stands today more than a mile's worth of stone walls throughout this large site. You'll also find several floor mosaics, bathhouse rooms, hypocaust (under floor heating system), a large water-shrine built for the water-nymphs and a latrine.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

It was rediscovered and first excavated by the Victorians in 1864, though a mosaic corridor was excavated and uncovered as recently as 2012. There is a modern conservation building and suspended walkways allow you to view the mosaics from nice and close. An onsite museum houses discovered objects from the villa and reenactments take place throughout the year for younger visitors, helping them understand the historical significance.

How to find it?

Not too far from Cheltenham, the site can be reached from the A40 or the A429.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth-roman-villa

3. Tyndale Monument

The Tyndale Monument is a landmark that can be seen for many miles. It sits atop a hill and makes for a great walking destination. It is surrounded by countryside and there are two nearby villages you can walk from: North Nibley and Wotton-under-Edge.

The tower is 34 metres tall and was built in 1866 in honour of William Tyndale, translator of the New Testament into English. Having been educated at both Oxford and Cambridge he worked as a tutor for the Walsh Family at their family home, Little Sodbury Manor and began translating the Bible into the 'language of the plough boy'. His views that everyone should be able to read the Bible in their own language led to persecution and eventually he was arrested and sentenced to death.

Usually at weekends the door into the tower is unlocked so you can wander inside. There is a narrow, winding staircase that will lead you to a viewing platform.

How to find it?

Head down the M5 from Buckland Court. If you want to stop off at either of the villages to leave your car they are both situated off the B4060.

4. Hailes Abbey

Founded in 1246 by Richard Earl of Cornwall, the abbey was originally built after the earl survived a shipwreck as his way of thanking God.

Today the extensive ruins reveal what was once an elaborate collection of buildings. It became the site of pilgrimage after Richard's son Edmund donated an alleged phial of Holy Blood to the abbey's Cistercian community. In 1539 the abbey became one of the final religious institutions to be destroyed in Henry VIII's Dissolution Act of 1536.

The tranquil remains are now a really relaxing place to wander or picnic. They feature a number of the cloistered arches and the little church which displays the remains of medieval wall paintings. The onsite museum houses findings from the area including sculptures and stonework.

How to find it?

Hailes Abbey is just a 15 minute drive from Buckland Court and is located off the B4632.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/hailes-abbey

5. Cirencester Amphitheatre

Right on the edge of the Cotswolds are the remains of Cirencester's Roman Amphitheatre, one of the largest of its kind in Britain. The site dates from the early 2nd century and was an important social hub during its heyday. Evidence suggests that it would once have held up to 8000 spectators.

Image: Google Maps

Over the years a series of archeological digs have revealed the earthworks and original foundation of the construction, and this is visible for you to see today. The oval plan has one entrance at either end and large surrounding banks that stretch 25 feet from the bottom of the arena. Roman artefacts including coins and pottery have been discovered on site.

How to find it?

The amphitheatre is located just on the outskirts of Cirencester off the A429.

www.english-heritage.org.uk/cirencester-amphitheatre

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