We’ve all heard of Stonehenge and debated over its true origins, but did you know there are a host of interesting prehistoric sites all over England? Here are a selection of sites where you can experience some of England’s oldest recorded history.

Uley Long Barrow
Now under the care of the English Heritage, Uley Long Barrow might just look like a mound in the ground, but when you get close, you’ll see that it is actually a chamber that goes underneath the ground. Known locally as Hetty Pegler’s Tump after a former land owner, the chamber is around 37 meters long and overlooks the Severn Valley – what you can see today is the result of extensive excavations and reconstructions which took place in the late 1800 and early 1900s. During these periods of work, human skeletons, neolithic pottery and Roman coins were all discovered, showing that the site was disturbed during the Roman occupation. Though it might not look like much, the Barrow remains one of the best examples of Early Neolithic monuments and the discovery of Roman artefacts indicates that it was disturbed during this time period.

Chanctonbury Ring Hillfort
West Sussex
Another site that had Roman remains but dates back much older is this hill fort which is remains from the early iron age. The ring sits on top of a hill in the chalk downland of West Sussex, the site was originally in use during the Bronze Age, when it was used for the burial of a young woman and a bronze dagger sometime in 1500 BC. Almost a thousand years later, it was repurposed as an Iron Age hill fort that is thought to have been in use until 50AD but appears to have been abandoned after the Roman invasion. From here onwards, it would appear that the Romans built a temple here, among other buildings and there is some evidence to suggest that the site had also been used for farming during this time. Excavations here have unearthed artefacts from various time periods, including the medieval times, when Elizabeth I had a beacon placed on the site as a way to warn residents of naval invasions.

The hill fort has its own carpark with a footpath that takes you to the site itself, be wary though, local legend claims that the ring is used by faeries and witches!

Long Meg and Her Daughters
We already mentioned Stone Henge, so here is another stone circle that you can visit – Long Meg and Her Daughters is widely considered to be one of the finest stone circles in the north of England and is the second biggest in the country – there are 69 stones in total. Archaeologists have dated the circle to be from 1500 BC and it is believed that it was used as a meeting place for the region’s elders or as a site for religious rituals. Long Meg is the name that is given to the largest of the stones in the circle, she stands around 12 feet tall and has three as yet unexplained symbols carved into it. Local legend states that the stones are actually a witch and her daughters who were turned to stone for dancing on the moor during the Sabbath – it is said that the circle is magic and that it is impossible to count the same number of stones twice – why not try it one day?

Fox Hole Cave
Located on the Derbyshire Dales within the grounds of High Wheeldon, a property that is now managed by the National Trust is Fox Hole Cave – though visitors can’t venture inside, the cave mouths are still visible and you can see several chambers from the opening. While not a monument like some of the others on this list, we had to mention it because of the number of artefacts and the span of time they covered after it was excavated. After being rediscovered in the 1920s, archaeologists found items dating back to the Mesolithic, Neolitic, Beaker, Bronze Age and Roman times. In addition to finding items of historical importance, the remains of a Brown Bear were also discovered here in the 1920s when a young boy ventured into the cave thinking it was a fox hole trying to find his dog – when he returned to the surface, he did so holding a large skull which was later identified to have come from a bear. Excavations of the site later discovered the rest of the bear and an extensive cave system below the surface. Studies of the artefacts and of the cave’s conditions determined that it had been used as a shelter during the palaeolithic and neolithic eras, it was also thought that the cave had been used as a store during the Bronze Age.  

Devil’s Arrows
Also known as menhirs, these four standing stones are arranged in a line rather than a circle and are believed to date back to the early Bronze Age. The tallest of the stones stands around 22.5 feet in height and is the second tallest stone of its kind. The other stones stand range from 22 to 18 feet in height – if you visit, you’ll notice that there are three rather than four stones remaining – one is believed to have been taken down and used as the base for a nearby bridge. No one is really sure why the stones were erected or the purpose that they served, however it is thought that they were created using stone from nearby Knaresborough. The site’s name comes from local legend which claims that they appeared after the devil appeared and tried to throw arrows at a neighbouring religious site, but missed with the arrows landing in a line in the field instead.

You can find them in the field next to the A1 that crosses the River Ure.

The Rollright Stones
Right on the boundary of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire on the Cotswold’s Hills, you’ll find these stone circles, which have been the subject of myth for generations with some claiming that the stones are the remains of a king and his army who was tricked by a witch. The stones are believed to span nearly 2000 years and various parts date to different periods. The stones appear to have been built using Jurassic oolitic limestone which forms the bulk of the hills in this part of the Cotswolds as it matches other buildings in the area that have been built out of this kind of stone.

The oldest of the stones is known as the Whispering Knights and dates to the Neolithic era while the King’s Men stone circle is late Neolithic and the King’s Stone is thought to be from the Bronze Age. According to local legend, the King’s Men and the King’s Stone are in fact a king and his knights who were tricked and turned into stone by a local witch. At various points chambers have been discovered nearby with artefacts and what may be a burial site.




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