Explore Great Britain's historical landmarks

From Stonehenge, and Hadrian's wall to grand castles and ancient buildings, Britain has a lot of history waiting to be explored. Get started with some of the famous landmarks – perfect for some adventure inspiration.

You could say that we're a nation obsessed with our history. Turn on the television and what do you see? Celebrities on historical quests to trace their family roots, historical documentaries about individuals or battles, and period dramas set in and around some of Britain's famous historical landmarks.

We admire them when they're on the box, but how often do we actually get out there and see the amazing historical landmarks that are right on our doorstop? Here's a rundown of some of our favourites.


When writing about historical landmarks in the UK, it would seem almost churlish to start anywhere but Stonehenge. Regardless of how you know of it - be it The Beatles performing in 'Help!' with a clearly visible Stonehenge in the background, the infamous rock classic "Stonehenge" in mockumentary 'This is Spinal Tap', or more recently several episodes of 'Doctor Who', the point iswe all know of it.

With good reason, too, as Stonehenge is widely considered as one of the wonders of the world. The prehistoric monument, believed to been a burial site, has been transformed into a wonderful visitor experience and one we strongly recommend. It's thought to have been built from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, making it by far the oldest of the landmarks on our list.

There's far more to enjoy throughout the Avebury World Heritage Site than simply stone circles. The Stonehenge monument is surrounded by the largest collection of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including the Cursus, Cursus Barrows, King Barrows and the Avenue. West Kennet Avenue provides visitors with a delightful walk while Waden Hill offers stunning views over Silbury Hill.


Edinburgh Castle

Looking over the wonderful Scottish capital is the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. Once home to Queen Margaret (later St Margaret, who also died here in 1093) and Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI inside the Royal Palace in 1566, the castle's importance as part of Scotland's heritage became apparent in the 19th century when restoration projects began.

It's certainly easy to find your way to the castle - it dominates the city's skyline - and you're able to book your tickets online so you can skip the queues when you arrive. From The Great Hall to The Royal Palace, St Margaret's Chapel to the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles, there's much to explore in this landmark that any chance to visit should be welcomed with open arms.

Check out the OS Walk Edinburgh Urban Map to discover more about Edinburgh Castle and other nearby landmarks like The Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens, The Royal Botanic Garden, Calton Hill and Arthur's Seat. The pocket-sized book includes a map of the area, key points of interest. a suggested route, notes on the history and much more.

Walk Edinburgh Urban Map OS explorer map 350

Roman Baths, Bath

This may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in South West England, but it's still worth reiterating the Roman Baths for anyone who hasn't been.

The Celts built the first shrine here, but it was the Romans who over several centuries gradually built the bathing complex we know today. Although visitors cannot enter the hot springs, which are heated by geothermal energy before rising through faults in the limestone, there's plenty to see and do here to get your historical feet wet. There's the bronze goddess at the temple of Sulis Minerva, the sacred area of the Temple courtyard, and the Spring overflow which truly shows off the Roman's ingenuity.

OS explorer map 155

Windsor Castle

Taking the Long Walk up to Windsor Castle never fails to excite the historian in us. It's The Queen's favourite weekend getaway home, and one of her majesty's official residences, but away from the Castle it will take you at least two days to see everything Windsor has to offer.

Originally built in the 11th century, following the Norman invasion led by William the Conqueror, the Castle has been home to monarchs since Henry I. To this day more than 500 people live and work here.

Henry III built a stunning royal palace within the Castle, which Edward III made even more luxurious during a renovation which became the most expensive building project of the entire Middle Ages. Having also been used as both a military base during the English Civil War, as well as the location for Charles I's imprisonment, simply walking around the imposing towers and battlements is a real thrill. Of course, heading inside to the State Apartments and St George's Chapel is rather special, too.

OS explorer map 160

Ironbridge Gorge

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Ironbridge Gorge was home to some of the most significant technological breakthroughs in our history. The idea for the Iron Bridge - the world's first - was conceived in 1775 in a bid to improve communication from either side of Shropshire's River Severn.

Here, Abraham Darby - one of the founding fathers of the Industrial Revolution - was the first person to smelt iron without using charcoal, a dwindling source of fuel, opting to use coke instead. Vast amounts of high-quality iron were able to be produced, far more than ever before. The Iron Bridge is now one of the best known industrial monuments in the UK.

There are ten fantastic museums around the Gorge, as well as old furnaces, factories, workshops and canals that have survived. Craftsmen and costumed demonstrators onsite will truly give you a taste of what it was like at the beginning on industry.

Os explorer map 242

Hadrian's Wall

At 73 miles, you'd be forgiven for not exploring all of Hadrian's Wall (especially as it doesn't remain in its entirety). However, even small segments can give visitors a taste of Roman life, as well as the chance to experience some of the most beautiful and dramatic countryside in the country, from Wallsend through Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway.

It's hard to imagine what life was really like in AD 122, when Emperor Hadrian ordered the wall to mark out the Roman Empire, but exploring the site will help you picture it. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1987, and there's plenty to see along the Wall, too, including Birdoswald Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town and both Housesteads and Chesters Roman Forts.

This is just a small selection of some of Britain's incredible historical landmarks, but hopefully we've inspired to get out and explore them. Who needs the History Channel when we have all of this on our doorstep?

os explorer OL43
Top 10 heritage Castles explore with os maps Shop Urban Maps

Edited 09.12.2020.