There is more to the Cotswolds than just beautiful scenery and quaint, gorgeous little towns and villages, we are talking about the several very significant ancient sites in this area. The Cotswolds are rich in remains from early settlements including Iron Age, Roman villages, and over one hundred burial grounds from the Neolithic era scattered throughout the Cotswolds, so if history is your thing then the Cotswolds won’t disappoint.
1. Belas Knap
Belas Knap is situated on Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and is an ancient site dating back to the Neolithic era. It is one of four long barrows in the care of English Heritage. If you are walking from Winchcombe it is about 5 miles leaving via Vineyard Street and following the Cotswold Way as it ascends up to Belas Knap. This really intriguing ancient site is well worth a visit.
2. Windmill Tump
Another one of the four Gloucestershire long barrows is Windmill Tump, also known as Rodmarton Long Barrow. When two trees fell down in the great storms of 1987 they revealed a previously unknown chamber. The ancient site is set on a gentle slope about a mile southwest of the village of Rodmarton. Park up on the little layby beside the lane that runs west from Rodmarton. From here you can follow the signed footpath along the western edge of the field towards the barrow.
3.Dyrham Camp Hillfort
This ancient site dates back to the Iron Age and is the traditional site of the Battle of Dyrham. Below the banks that define the fort are ancient terraces that were built for farming. There are truly wonderful views out over Wales from this ancient site. There is a footpath running across the Southern edge, the slopes are steep but you’ll be able to see the ancient field system well from this point.
3. Notgrove Long Barrow
This is a prehistoric long barrow burial mound and consists of a large mound with a passage running through the center and several small chambers opening off it. There is layby nearby if you are coming by car which is right by the ancient site so won’t require any walking but if you do fancy some fresh air and a nice stroll there is a good 6.5-mile route from Notgrove through Cold Aston before joining the River Windrush and walking on into Bourton on The Water, a beautiful example of a Cotswold town.
4. Three Shires Stones
This ancient site is home to a monument that marks the point where the three shires (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset) meet. It is a Neolithic burial chamber, the stones stand at about 2 meters high and 1 meter wide and were used as the model for the Three Farthings Stone in JRR Tolkens The Lord of the Rings.
5. Uley Long Barrow (Hetty Pegler’s Tump)
This is a partially reconstructed Neolithic burial mound near the village of Uley in Gloucestershire. It is 37 meters long and overlooks the Severn Valley and gets its nickname ‘Hetty Pegler’ from the lady herself who used to own this land in the 17th century. This ancient site could easily be visited whilst walking the Cotswold Way Circular Walk which starts in the village of Uley itself and heads North East to the village of Nympsfield before taking a North West course towards the Cotswold escarpment at Frocester Hill.
6. Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons
Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons are owned and managed by the National Trust and cover 335 hectares of grassland that are of great archaeological importance. The Iron Age tribesmen of Gloucestershire are said to have made their final stand against the Roman invasion on Minchinhampton Common, survivors eventually fled North of this now-ancient site of importance.