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British Isles Culture

The UK has a wealth of historic and cultural attractions. There are many ancient standing stone sites such as Stonehenge near Amesbury in Wiltshire and Castlerigg in Cumbria. Orkney one of the Scottish islands had a sophisticated Stone Age community and the remains can be seen at Skara Brae whichisnow a World Heritage Site. The city of York in the north has the excellent Jorvik Viking Centre detailing daily life there under Scandinavian rule. Fine Roman remains can be seen at Lullingstone Roman Villa in Kent and Hadrian’s Wall which stretches 117km coast to coast in the far north of England. It was built to protect Roman Britain from the marauding Picts from what is now Scotland. There are several museums along the wall but the best is Housesteads Fort and Museum, the most complete Roman fort in Britain.
 
There are many interesting old historic towns to explore such as the university cities of Oxfordand Cambridgewhichhave colleges dating back to the 13th century and many beautiful old buildings. York, Canterbury in Kent and Norwich in Norfolkhave fine examples of medieval architecture. Chesterin Cheshire is surrounded by Roman and medieval walls and has some lovely Tudor and Victorian buildings including the raised arcades known as The Rows. Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire has some excellent examples of Tudor architecture including the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The spa town of Bath in Somerset is famous for its sweeping crescents of Georgian townhouses and the remains of the Roman Baths are among the most important in Europe. Cheltenhamin Gloucestershire is also a spa town andhas some fine Regency-period buildings including the Pittville Pump Room set in an area of villas and parkland.
 
The UK boasts many fine cathedrals such as Canterbury, Hereford, Wells, and Salisbury in the south and Coventry in the Midlands, Liverpool and Durham further north. Fine minsters can be found in Southwell in Nottinghamshire and York which is the largest medieval gothic example in northern Europe. There are also many beautiful abbeys such as the 12th century Cistercian Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.
 
There are numerous stately homes, National Trust properties and castles to choose from. Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Chatsworth in Derbyshire are all outstanding examples of fine houses with beautiful gardens. Meanwhile Petworth in Sussex, Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire and Chirk Castle in northeast Wales are just a few of the wonderful National Trust properties you can visit. As for castles Warwick and Windsor are great examples and if in North Wales do visit Carnarvon Castle.
 
London has some excellent art galleries and museums such as The British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery. If you have time don’t miss Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the V&A. Other excellent city museums are the Ashmolean in Oxford and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with its superb collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. If in Edinburgh do visit the National Gallery of Scotland and the Burrell Collection of art in Pollok Park. Meanwhile the Glasgow Science Centre should also be on your list. One of the finest industrial museums in the UK is the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire. Smaller art galleries include 1853 at Saltaire, Bradford which displays the world’s largest collection of David Hockney paintings and the Lowry Centre Art Gallery at Salford Quays, Manchester. You really will be spoilt for choice of things to see and do in the UK!