Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin. It closed its doors in 1924. Today the building symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and in some cases executed here. Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also detained in Kilmainham Gaol, guarded by British troops. Names such as Henry Joy McCracken, Robert Emmet, Anne Devlin, Charles Stewart Parnell and the leaders of 1916 will always be associated with the building. It should not be forgotten however that, as a county gaol, Kilmainham held thousands of ordinary men, women and children. Their crimes ranged from petty offences such as stealing food to more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts from many parts of Ireland were held here for long periods waiting to be transported to Australia. Kilmainham Gaol Museum is operated and managed by the Office of Public Works.
Standing on a hillock backed by panoramic views of Snowdonia, Bodowyr is a striking landmark. The massive, mushroom-shaped capstone was originally supported by four tall standing stones, one of which fell at some point over the last few millennia. A fifth, shorter stone is believed to mark what was once the tomb’s entrance.
Originally covered in earth and built in Neolithic (New Stone Age) times it is most likely a passage grave used for communal burial. However, the site has never been excavated so exactly who or what is buried here remains a mystery.
Though all that remains of this Neolithic (New Stone Age) settlement is a single bank, excavations have revealed a site with a particularly long history. Its origins stretch back to a circular enclosure featuring a bank and external ditch built in the late Neolithic era or early Bronze Age. Originally thought to be a ceremonial henge monument, finds of pottery, post holes and flint and bronze tools are in fact those of a settlement.
The locals must have liked the place. Castell Bryn Gwyn was used far beyond the Neolithic period, with archaeological finds suggesting it was still inhabited as late as 1st-century Roman times.
This rectilinear enclosure of double banks and ditches has a complex and sometimes murky history. Its location on low-lying marshland led some to believe that it may once have been a medieval moated homestead, while excavations have uncovered medieval coins and Roman artefacts dating from the 3rd century.
However, it seems that these items were left by the settlement’s later occupants rather than its original builders, with investigations of similar sites elsewhere in Wales suggesting that Caer Lêb has Iron Age origins.
Don’t overlook Caernarfon’s medieval town walls. Visitors flock here, of course, to see the world-famous fortress. But Caernarfon’s story is not complete without including a chapter on its ring of ancient walls. They were an essential part of King Edward I’s masterplan to create a complete fortress town settled by incomers.
The circuit of walls, studded with eight towers and two gateways, survives almost complete. Extending for almost half-a-mile, the walls threw a security blanket around Edward’s new town. The East Gate was the main landward entrance to the medieval borough. This is matched, at the opposite end of the High Street, by the West (or Water) Gate, which could only be approached from the sea in the 13th century. Some of the best-preserved sections of wall can be seen just north of the East Gate, though to get a sense of the original atmosphere of the town take a walk on the quay or along the shady Hole in the Wall Street.
Established nearly two millennia ago, this strategically-placed fort at the edge of the Roman Empire bustled with life for more than three hundred years.
Segontium was founded by Agricola in AD77 after he brutally suppressed a rebellion by the native tribe known as the Ordovices. Designed to hold a 1,000-strong regiment of auxiliary infantrymen, it was linked by Roman roads to the main legionary bases at Chester and Caerleon.
Thanks to excavated coins we know the Romans stayed until about AD394 – no other fort in Wales was held so long. Segontium not only controlled access to fertile and mineral-rich Anglesey but later helped defend the Welsh coast against Irish pirates.
One of Anglesey’s most famous prehistoric landmarks, Bryn Celli Ddu (the ‘Mound in the Dark Grove’ in English) is actually two sites in one. In the early Neolithic (New Stone Age) period, a henge (bank and ditch) enclosing a circle of stones was built here, to be replaced later by a chambered tomb beneath a mound measuring up to 85ft/26m in diameter. Inside, a long, narrow passage leads to an octagonal chamber 8ft/2.4m across, where artefacts such as human bones, arrowheads and carved stones have been found.
But Bryn Celli Ddu’s most unusual feature can only be seen once a year. As the sun rises on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) shafts of light shine directly down the tomb’s passageway to illuminate the chamber within.
At the top of Scrabo Hill, overlooking Strangford Lough and the whole of North Down, is Scrabo Tower. The tower, which was built in 1857, is one of Northern Ireland’s best known landmarks and the views from the top are spectacular.
Welsh castle and solitary guardian of Snowdonia’s Llanberis Pass
Occupying a lofty, lonely spot overlooking the waters of Llyn Padarn, native-built Dolbadarn Castle was once a vital link in the defences of the ancient kingdom of Gwynedd. Most likely constructed by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) in the late 12th or early 13th century, it stood to watch over the strategic route inland from Caernarfon to the upper Conwy Valley.
Today the site is dominated by the sturdy round tower, very different in style to the unmortared slate slabs which make up the castle’s curtain walls. Standing 50ft/15.2m high, the tower’s design was probably inspired by that of similar fortresses built by Llywelyn’s rivals in the borderlands of the Southern Marches.
Haverfordwest Castle dominates the small riverside town of Haverfordwest. The wife of Edward 1 (Queen Eleanor) acquired the castle in 1289 and extended it on a large scale, but it was derelict by the 16th century. During the Civil War it was refortified and was occupied successively by Royalists and Parliamentarians, changing hands four times.
Part of the castle was converted to a prison in the 18th century. This building now houses the County Archives.
The museum of the county town is located in the Governors House, within the walls of Haverfordwest Castle. It contains an informative local history exhibition as well as a collection of paintings in the museum gallery and an exhibition of artefacts discovered at Haverfordwest Priory.
Haverfordwest Priory was founded in 1200 on land donated by Robert Fitzancard, the Lord of Haverfordwest. Like many of the buildings from this era it was dissolved by Henry 8th and after passing through many owners is now under the care of Cadw.
Recent excavations of the site have uncovered Britain’s only surviving ecclesiastical garden from the medieval period.
Llawhaden Castle is situated about 10 miles east from Haverfordwest. The current castle occupies the site of a previous wooden structure and was built by the Bishops of St Davids between the 12th and 14th century.
The Islay Museums Trust was formed in 1976 by the Islay Historic Works Group and the Natural History and Antiquarian Society of Islay. A Management Committee was formed of Trustees resident on the island and other interested islanders. The Museum building, the former Free Church of Port Charlotte, was purchased for a nominal sum in the same year and work was started on converting what was a dilapidated ruin.
The aims of the Museum: To hold in trust collections reflecting the history of the island of Islay, for the advancement of the education of the general public, and to maintain and enhance those collections. The Museum holds around 2,000 objects over a wide range of subject areas. The Museum has developed a policy for the display of the collection, allowing the rotation of existing items in and out of storage, as well as providing space for short term displays linked to a particular theme, for example, the shipwrecks, the wee museum of childhood and Islay House upstairs and downstairs.
A Standing Stone above Finlaggan. This structure and other standing stones on Islay probably pre-date the medieval ruins on the Council Isle by around two or three thousand years. Someone on Islay raised a question about whether any of Islay's standing stone groups have solar alignments, as can be read in an article about the Winter Solstice. I know of several sites on Islay which have been linked to various astronomical events. These include the stone circle at Cultoon, the standing stones at Ballinaby and the standing stone at Finlaggan.
Take a 17th Century ruin, add 14 acres of gardens and grounds, blend with a sense of history, mix in a large dollop of irreverence; add a generous pinch of fairy dust, and stir.
That is the recipe for Kirklinton Hall & Gardens.
Also in this stunning garden is an orchard, nuttery, quince grove, bog garden, duck pond and palace, pigs, a yurt, a gypsy caravan and a campsite. A scented rose maze and rose terraces surround the Great Hall. We also have a children's garden with sandpit, playhouse and a Kids Sunflower Bed.
The Castle you see today, in the heart of the capital city, is at once a Roman fort, an impressive castle and an extraordinary Victorian Gothic fantasy palace, created for one of the world’s richest men.
The beautiful and now tranquil setting of Augustinian Lanercost Priory belies an often troubled history. Standing close to Hadrian's Wall, it suffered frequent attacks during the long Anglo-Scottish wars, once by Robert Bruce in person. The mortally sick King Edward I rested here for five months in 1306-7, shortly before his death on his final campaign. Yet there is still much to see in this best-preserved of Cumbrian monasteries. The east end of the noble 13th-century church survives to its full height, housing within its dramatic triple tier of arches some fine monuments.
Admire the ruins of this impressive fort where over 800 Roman soldiers lived.
This wildlife haven is also a popular stopping point for walkers and cyclists on the Hadrian's Wall National Trail.
You can rest your weary legs in the cosy tearoom where you will receive a warm Cumbrian welcome and the chance to learn about Roman life.
For around three centuries, Hadrian’s Wall was a vibrant, multi-cultured frontier sprawling almost 80 miles coast-to-coast. Built by a force of 15,000 men in under six years, it’s as astounding today for its sheer vision as it is for its engineering. Milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts punctuate a diverse landscape that provides a dramatic backdrop.
Explore bath houses, turrets and shrines, visit galleries and museums and watch live excavations uncover fresh details of ancient Roman Britain before your eyes. However you discover it, Hadrian’s Wall is a unique, must-see monument and a remarkable place to experience.
Explore one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain. Set in wonderful parkland along the banks of the River Aire, Kirkstall Abbey boast historic architecture amid a haven of wildlife and greenery.
Kirkstall Abbey Visitor Centre tells you more about the lives of the 12th century monks and contains the touch table, a unique catalogue of images of the abbey from the 18th century to the present day.
Kirkstall Abbey is directly across the road from Abbey House Museum, this is a great opportunity to make a day out for all the family.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge’s spectacular setting on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge has made it the defining symbol of Bristol, drawing thousands of visitors a year just to stroll across for views of the ancient Avon Gorge, elegant Clifton and the magnificent city beyond.
Cabot Tower, set in the gorgeous parkland of Brandon Hill near Park Street in the West End, is a 105ft tower built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot's famous voyage from Bristol and the continent of North America four hundred years earlier.
Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol, where you can enjoy great views over the city and Harbourside area. Located just off Park Street in the West End, Brandon Hill features a children's play area, beautiful paths and a nature conservation area, and of course the icon of Bristol's skyline, Cabot Tower. Designed by the Bristol architect William Venn Gough and paid for by public subscription, the tower is built from red sandstone covered with cream Bath stone. Located in the centre of the park. It's free to climb up the steep, twisting steps of the tower, which is open daily.
Coventry Cathedral is a place where splendid medieval history meets modern architecture to stunning and poignant effect.
Explore the Ruined Cathedral, destroyed in the Coventry Blitz during WW2, standing proudly alongside the magnificent ‘casket of jewels’, the iconic ‘New’ Cathedral. The New Cathedral features works by some of the greatest artists of the 1950s and 60s.
Internationally recognised as a beacon of hope, Coventry Cathedral embodies a spirit of peace and reconciliation in a truly breath-taking setting.
Death, intrigue, scandal and spilt custard...are not compulsory when you visit St. Mary's Guildhall, but can be discovered in more than 600 years worth of stories from the finest medieval guildhall in the country.
Located in the city's historic Cathedral Quarter, St. Mary's Guildhall miraculously survived the Second World War bombing raids and stands as a monument to the power and wealth of medieval Coventry. With magnificent interiors, collections of armour, historic furniture, artworks and internationally important tapestries, the Guildhall offers a window into Coventry's glorious past. A prison to Mary, Queen of Scots, a theatre for Shakespeare and an inspiration to George Eliot, St. Mary's Guildhall is a fascinating free experience for all ages, at the historic heart of the city of Coventry.
It's A.D. 60; the Iceni of East Anglia led by the legendary Boudica have rebelled against Roman rule, and have just been defeated in a terrible battle fought somewhere in the Midlands. As a result, the Romans are building a series of fortifications across the Midlands, including the Lunt.
Come and explore this partially-reconstructed timber fort. Stand on the ramparts, explore the exhibition in the granary and imagine yourself training horses in the gyrus - a feature not found anywhere else in the Roman Empire.
The Lunt Roman Fort is only open during select Coventry school holidays. Please visit www.luntromanfort.org for more information about opening hours. Members of the public are not able to access the site during Coventry term times.
Bagot’s Castle, in the village of Baginton on the outskirts of Coventry, is believed to originally been built in the 11th century, at the time of King Henry I. It was rebuilt around the late 14th century by Sir William Bagot, a distinguished nobleman of his time. All that remains are the ruins of this historic castle.