Following the meteoric crash of the Western Roman Empire in the late fifth century, Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages, more commonly referred to as the Middle Ages. During this period, lasting from 476 CE to 1500 CE, according to Medievalists.net, the great powers of Europe distinguished themselves from the lesser nations. By the time the Renaissance began in 1500, Spain, France, and England had established themselves as the dominant “super powers” of the age. Of course, history went on to show England and all of Great Britain as the European power.
While the Medieval Age and the imperialist Britain it inspired have long since disappeared, many are drawn to the United Kingdom to see what the country looked like during the Dark Ages. If this sounds like you, here are four destinations you have to see on your European vacation through time.
- The Welsh Castle of Chepstow
- The Tower of London
- Bannockburn Battlefield in Scotland
- London’s Famous Westminster Abbey
According to CastleWales.com, Wales is frequently referred to by historians and tourists on their European holidays as “the Land of Castles.” Indeed, many of the UK’s best kept castles from Medieval times are found on Welsh land. The most famous example, perhaps, is Chepstow Castle, located in the Welsh town of Chepstow, Monmouthshire. The fortress, the first stone of which was laid in 1067, was the headquarters of the English invasion forces and a key part of Welsh annexation into Great Britain.
The Tower of London, located in Tower Hamlets along the River Thames, began construction in the 1080’s. William the Conqueror had the tower built to house political dissidents and others who had lost his favor. Over the next thousand years, according to Historic Royal Palaces, kings and queens continued adding to the Tower of London, transforming it into the supposed headquarters of clandestine activity it is today. Guests of the best hotels in London’s Victoria area can visit the tower after a quick trip on the tube.
Fans of Scottish history and 1995’s “Braveheart” will be familiar with Bannockburn Battlefield in Scotland. This battlefield is where Robert the Bruce fought off English forces and regained Scotland’s independence, at least temporarily. Located some two miles south of Stirling, according to Historvius.com, a short drive from your hotel accommodations up the M9 or M80 highways will get you to the 14th century battlefield in short order.
Of all the relics from the Middle Ages, Westminster Abbey is undoubtedly the most famous. According to Westminster-Abbey.org, the original church dates back to 1066, though renovations under King Henry III began in 1245. Westminster Abbey, the burial location of Charles Dickens and many other famed Brits from history, is built in the true Gothic style, known for specialized buttresses and high-arched ceilings and walls. Erected in the London borough of Westminster, this historical treasure is easily accessed on your European vacation from the Camden and Victoria areas of London.
As a survivor and champion of the Middle Ages, it’s no surprise that the United Kingdom is home to many of the most interesting Medieval locations. If you’re heading out on a European vacation to the UK, you won’t want to miss any of these. More like this article.