Check-in Desk: Ye olde England

Hadrians Wall Walk in Northumberland, North East of England. Photo / 123RF
Hadrians Wall Walk in Northumberland, North East of England. Photo / 123RF

1 Hadrian's Wall

Even the Emperor Hadrian wanted to keep a barrier between his empire and the "barbarians" of England's north. He took six years to build his wall, begun in AD122, and although farmers over the millenia have since helped themselves to its stones for their own wall projects, there is still plenty left to explore - although climbing on the wall is not encouraged. The original wall was about 80 Roman miles long (117.5km) and made from whatever materials were to hand, including turf and wood. Today, Hadrian's Wall is a World Heritage Site.

2 Stonehenge

Well, if you're going to visit ye olde England, you can't get much older than Stonehenge. Actually, it qualifies as ye prehistoric England, because that is what it is. Exactly what it is - a coronation place for Danish kings? a druid temple? an astronomical computer? - is still open to much debate but it was immensely important to its Neolithic builders, who spent about 2000 years lugging great stones hundreds of kilometres and putting them together.

3 Magna Carta

Moving along by a couple of millennia, we come to the Magna Carta, drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and signed by King John to bring peace to the land. It was almost immediately annulled and, over the coming decades, was modified and argued over. The British Library, Lincoln and Salisbury have copies but you can also drop by Runnymede in Surrey, to visit the pastures where the original was signed, back in 1215.

4 Bath, Somerset

In a land with such delightful place names as Boggy Bottom and Crotch Crescent, poor old Bath has been left high and dry with one of the least-imaginative names. But don't let that stop you from indulging at one of the city's many spas. It was those Romans who built a bathing complex here, back in about 70AD. Over the next 300 years or so they built a caldarium, tepidarium and a frigidarium. But don't misbehave: archaeologists have found "curse tablets", upon which citizens expressed their wrath and the indiscretions of their countrymen.

5 History rules

If you're interested in olde stuffe, England is the place to be. English Heritage looks after 400 historic monuments, buildings and places from prehistoric sites to abbeys; medieval castles to Roman forts; Cold War bunkers to the world's oldest iron bridge. It's a land awash with historic houses and bridges and shipwrecks. There are barrows and tombs, Roman roads, centuries-old towns, cathedrals and gardens and battlefields. So many you'll almost be a relic yourself by the time you've visited them all. englishheritage.org.uk

- NZ Herald

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