The ancient ancestors of Britain saw something very special in certain places of the land, deeming these areas more sacred than others. In these locations, our ancestors created monuments, shrines and places of worship in honour of their beliefs. Some took inspiration from the landscape itself, visiting these places on pilgrimages and journeys of religious discovery.
Remarkably, some of the remains of these sacred places have stood the test of time, and make fascinating attractions for a family day out. As well as beautiful landscapes and stunning views, there’s a wealth of history to discover on a visit. From the ancient standing stones of Dorset to Holy Island in Northumberland, we’ve put together a list of some of the most sacred places in Britain for you to explore on your next holiday with us.
Glastonbury has been regarded as a sacred place of worship ever since humans first arrived in the area. It was once a former island, surrounded by sea in ancient times, and is even thought to have been the location of the ancient island of Avalon, which features in the legend of King Arthur.
One of the most famous landmarks in Somerset is Glastonbury’s iconic Tor, a large hill topped by a ruined 15th century church, which rises dramatically from the flat landscape. Glastonbury Tor has a long running and varied history, and has been observed as a site of religious and spiritual significance for thousands of years.
Ancient remains found at the site, dating from around 5000 BC, reveal evidence of stone circles. The unique terracing of the Tor is also thought to be the remains of a Neolithic labyrinth, a kind of maze which would have been built for ritual purposes. In early-medieval times, there was a small monks’ retreat at the top of the Tor. In the 1100s a chapel, St Michael de Torre, was also built there. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1275, the chapel was rebuilt in the early 1300s - and its tower remains there to this day.
Just over an hour from Warmwell Holiday Park, there’s lots to discover on a family day out to Glastonbury. Climb the Tor and take in the stunning views from the top, and discover the secret history of this sacred place. Nearby, visit the dramatic ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, and the Chalice Well and gardens, a site of pilgrimage since Celtic times.
Video sourced from Drone Journey
Grimes Graves, Norfolk
Grimes Graves is not a burial chamber as its name might suggest, but is the only Neolithic flint mine open to the public in Britain. Around 45 minutes from Heacham Beach Holiday Park, the extraordinary surface landscape of the mines has puzzled people for years. It wasn’t until they were excavated in 1870 that their use was fully understood.
Dating from around 2500 BC, the mines were created to dig up flint - a type of rock found in chalk, which was used to make tools, weapons, and various other items. It is thought that around 700 pits were originally dug, and around 400 of these remain today.
During the excavations of the mines, evidence of religious worship was discovered, suggesting the miners took their religion with them deep underground. One of the chambers was believed to be a fertility shrine - complete with an altar, a goddess figurine and other spiritual items. It’s thought that this was created by the miners as a religious offering to the goddess, to ensure the mines remained successful, and flint continued to be found.
Today, you can travel underground and explore one of the ancient mine chambers for yourself. Descend 30ft down a ladder into one of the mine shafts, and discover how the miners once used antlers to hack out flint from the hard rock face. The surface of the mines creates a unique landscape to explore, with strange alien-like mounds and hills. There are lots of scenic hiking routes in the area too, where you can enjoy stunning views and beautiful scenery. There’s also a small museum on site, where you can find out more about the mines and what life might have been like for those working here, all those years ago.
Video sourced from SkyEye Britain
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland
Just a few miles off the Northumberland Coast, and just over 30 minutes from Eyemouth Holiday Park, lies the Holy Island of Lindisfarne - which has been a place of pilgrimage for years. Cut off from the mainland twice a day when the tide comes in, Holy Island is regarded as one of the most peaceful and sacred places in Britain.
Lindisfarne was founded by Saint Aidan, an Irish Monk from the island of Iona - which at the time was the main centre of Christianity in Britain. St. Aidan brought his religion with him, and founded Lindisfarne Monastery on Holy Island in 635. He travelled widely through Northumbria, and began converting the Pagan Northumbrians to Christianity.
In 654 St. Cuthbert, who was said to have the gift of healing and the ability to work miracles, came to Lindisfarne - eventually working his way up the church to become Bishop. When he passed away he was buried on the island, and pilgrims travelled to the island to visit the burial place of the saint. Holy Island remains a place of pilgrimage today, and is the final destination for those hiking the long-distance walking route; St Cuthbert’s Way.
Today, the island is a thriving community with lots to see and do on a visit. Drive or walk across the causeway and discover all Holy Island has to offer. Follow in the footsteps of the monks with a visit to Lindisfarne Priory, where you can learn all about the religious history of the island.
It’s also a popular place with wildlife lovers, as the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of birds, including eider ducks, oyster-catchers and herring gulls. Grey seals can often be seen playing in the waves and dolphins have even been spotted in the waters too.
Video sourced from TeamUKFPV
Standing Stones and Iron Age Hill Fort, Dorset
Throughout Dorset’s picturesque landscape you can see reminders of our ancient ancestors, and their beliefs. All over the region, remains of large stone circles and ancient hill forts can be found - which are shrouded in mystery about who created them and why.
The purpose of these stone arrangements remains unsolved to this day, and there are many theories surrounding their existence. One of the theories is that our ancestors placed them in the locations they felt the earth’s “energy” at its strongest. Many sites are believed to have been created for a religious or ceremonial purpose, and it’s the unknown aspect of these stone formations that make them such fascinating places to visit.
Lots of these stone circles can be found within 30 minutes of West Bay Holiday Park, including Kingston Russell stone circle, which is a circle of 18 fallen stones, created around 4,000 years ago. It lies at the junction of five footpaths, and there are lots of great walking opportunities in the surrounding landscape. Nearby, the Nine Stones stone circle sits hidden in a woodland area, and has a real air of mystery about it. Close by, you’ll also find Winterbourne Poor Lot Barrows, a collection of 44 Bronze Age burial mounds.
Finish off your tour of ancient Dorset with a visit to Maiden Castle, which is sure to spark the imagination. As one of the largest and most complex hill forts in Europe, Maiden Castle has a varied history. Built in the 1st century, it was a Neolithic settlement, a Roman temple and an Iron Age cemetery. Today, you can climb the ramparts of the ancient fort and enjoy the picturesque views over the surrounding landscape that our ancient ancestors deemed to be special.
Video sourced from Stephen Cousins