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United Kingdom & Ireland Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
Possibly one of the most important hillforts in England - and yet no-one knows about it! Standing up to 100m high, the wooded Worlebury Hill dominates the northern edge of Weston-super-Mare. It is the site of one of the most significant hillfots in England with its three Bronze Age ditches and seven Iron Age valla (walls and ditches). You won’t find anything about it on the Weston Super Mare website and it only merits a small mention on the North Somerset one. It isn’t signposted from...
Better known as the Marble Church, this is the gleaming white spire seen from the A55 Expressway and is a local landmark for miles around. When it was first built, St Margaret's Church was called the ‘Pearl of the Vale’. Now it is better known as the Marble Church, not from its colour (which has turned grey over the years from pollution) but because fourteen different sorts of marble were used in its construction. It took four years to build and cost £60,000. In 1829, Margaret Williams...
Reputed to be the smallest ancient cathedral in Britain, there has been a church on this site since the C6th when St Kentigern built a church and monastery here. When he returned to his native Scotland he left it in charge of his favourite pupil, Asaph. A new cathedral was built in the C12th, but was destroyed by the armies of Edward I in 1282. It was rebuilt, only to be burned by Owain Glyndŵr’s troops in 1402, who left it in ruins. The existing building is largely C14th. The tower had to...
A statement of English power and supremacy that later became a much loved family home Standing on a rocky outcrop above the confluence of the Dee and Ceiriog rivers, Chirk Castle was built to impress. It was one of the last of the great Edwardian castles built in the late C13th to subdue the Welsh and bring Wales firmly under the control of Edward I and the English throne. It controlled the Marcher land along the Welsh and English border, controlling movement and trade as well as acting...
An extravagant private chapel of an arch Royalist who clung to the old ways... Rug Chapel is a lovely setting among the trees and surrounded by a garden with roses, lavender and herbs. From the outside it is a very plain building, with a small bell cot above the west end. Nothing prepares you for the magnificence of the interior where every available bit of wood is carved and every surface painted. The chapel was built as a private chapel for Colonel William Salesbury in 1637. He was a...
Elgin Cathedral is a magnificent ruined cathedral in the centre of Elgin. Dating from the C13th, it was built to replace an earlier cathedral near the Bishop’s Palace in Spynie. This had once been an important religious community surrounded by a wall with four gateways through it. The Pans Porte on the east side still survives. The cathedral was at the centre of the complex. All of the church dignitaries had a manse in the precinct surrounded by a garden. Now the only one to survive is...
The ruins of this Cistercian Abbey occupy a lovely isolated setting by the Water of Luce, north of the village. The monastery was founded in 1190 and was a convenient stop for pilgrims visiting nearby St Ninian’s shrine. Robert the Bruce, James IV and Mary Queen of Scots have all stayed here. Little is known about its history. At the Protestant Reformation, the fifteen monks in the abbey accepted the new religion and were left to live in the abbey. When the last monk died in 1602 the...
This is a lovely ruined priory, set on a small wooded island in the Lake of Monteith, and rreached by boat. The priory was founded in the C12th by Augustinian canons who wanted to be isolated from the world to worship God. The church was built first followed by the rest of the monastic buildings. It was close to Stirling, a key centre of power in medieval Scotland. Robert the Bruce visited three times and Mary Queen of Scots was brought here as a child by her mother, Mary of Guise...
Seen from the A9 Ruthven Barracks stand silhouetted against the skyline, on a natural mound of sand and gravel deposited by melting ice. They are the smallest but best preserved of the four barracks built in 1719 after the 1715 Jacobite rising. The site has a chequered history. A wooden castle was built on top of the mound by the Comyns in the 1200s and it was the chief seat of the Badenoch lordship as it controlled passageway through the glen. In 1306, John Comyn was killed by Robert...
Corgaff Castle is a startlingly white harled tower house silhouetted against the skyline and surrounded by a star shaped wall. It is a splendid location miles from anywhere at the head of Strathdon, surrounded by rounded low hills, pastureland with sheep, some forestry and heather covered tops. Corgaff castle was built as a fortified tower house in 1550 and would originally have been surrounded by a barmkin wall. The tower would have been fairly small with vaulted storage rooms on the...
Possibly the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain Fort George is the most amazing military construction built after the Battle of Culloden to control the Highlands and crush any future Jacobite rebellions. The first view of the ramparts takes your breath away. We were impressed before we’d gone in and it got better and better. This is somewhere that should be on every tourist itinerary tick list! It is a marvellous setting on a promontory jutting out into the Moray Firth, with...
Everyone has heard of the Picts, the confederation of northern tribes that fought against the Romans, but we know little about them. They left no written language and the only records are their carved stones. The Pictish Kingdom spread from the far north of Scotland to the River Forth. The Picts developed from tribes in Iron Age Scotland and formed a unique cultural and political identity. They were a warrior people led by powerful kings and lords. Initially pagan, they became...
Framlingham is a small attractive market town dominated by its castle and church. It has a long history and Mary Tudor was at Framlingham when she was proclaimed Queen of England and began her fight to gain the crown from Lady Jane Grey. The castle was the stronghold of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk and their magnificent tombs are in the church. The Royal Sovereign, the flagship of Charles II’s navy was built from oaks grown in the surrounding forests. And finally the town has two...
St Albans is one of the ‘newer' cathedrals, only becoming a cathedral in the C19th. It is less well known than the great cathedrals of Canterbury, York and Durham, but is equally as important and impressive. It is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in England and a church has been on this site since the 3rd century. It has the only C11th crossing tower still standing. As well as having the longest nave in England, there is the shrine of St Alban and the wooden watching loft...
Ely Cathedral is massive and dwarfs the city. Standing beside it, it is almost too big to take in and too big to photograph easily. It is best seen from a distance when the cathedral can be seen towering above the landscape, hence its affectionate nickname “The Ship of the Fens”. it has a long history stretching back over 1350 years. Etheldreda, daughter of the King of the East Angles established a double monastery here in the C7th. After her death she was made a saint and Ely became a...
An important Christian site since St Augustine, the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket and the burial place of the Black Prince and Henry IV Not only is Canterbury Cathedral one of the oldest Christian Churches in England, it is architecturally one of the best. It has been at the heart of English Christianity for nearly fifteen centuries. It is a World Heritage site along with the nearby ruined St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church, the oldest church in England. The martyrdom...
The C18th and C19th were a time of great change in Britain. The Industrial Revolution was to change the landscape for ever from a small scale agrarian economy to a largely industrial one. Shropshire had good deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone and clay as well as timber and water. The River Severn also provided transport for raw materials and finished goods. Abraham Darby developed a method of producing iron using coal rather than charcoal and revolutionised iron making. Iron could be...
Shrewsbury set in a big loop of the River Severn has been an important town since Saxon times. The name comes from ‘Scrobbesbyrig’, derived from the words ‘scrub’ and ‘fortified place’ The area seems to have been first settled in the late C5th or C6th. By the C9th it was a fortified burgh, controlling the Severn river crossing. Old St Chad’s Church dates back to the C7th. Shrewsbury was part of the Kingdom of Mercia and has links with Aethelfled, daughter of Alfred the Great who was...
Cobblestones, higgledy piggledy houses and smugglers... Rye stands on a hill above the low lying expanse of Romney Marshes. A thousand years ago it was surrounded by sea and was an important harbour. It became a Royal Borough, running its own affairs raising taxes and operating its own judicial system. It was one of the Cinque Ports, responsible for supplying ships and men to defend the coast against French raiders. A fire following a devastating French raid on the town in 1377 destroyed...
The Stade Although it was one of the Cinque Ports, Hastings has never had a good harbour and has always been in danger of coastal erosion. Boats have traditionally been stored and launched from the beach, as can be seen in this photograph taken in 1870 . Fishing has always been an important part of the economy of Hastings. It still has the largest beach launched fishing fleet in the country, with over 25 boats based on the Stade. This comes from the Anglo Saxon meaning launching place...

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