Besides its unrivaled natural beauty, it is the rich history of the Cotswolds that draws visitors to the region. With its incredible Roman past, and its important strategic position throughout British history, the region continues to hold great historical importance. Here we outline some of the top historical sites that the Cotswolds have to offer.
1. Chedworth Roman Villa
One of the most famous historical landmarks in the Cotswolds is Chedworth Roman Villa. Located just outside of the town of Cheltenham Spa, the site is home to the remains of one of the largest Roman villas in England. Built between the 2nd and 4th centuries, the villa was rediscovered and excavated in 1864 by Victorian archeologists. Its beautiful mosaic corridor was excavated and uncovered as recently as 2012. The onsite museum is home to many recovered Roman objects, and historical reenactments occur on location at the villa throughout the year.
2. Hailes Abbey
Another important historical landmark in the Cotswolds is Hailes Abbey. Founded in 1246 by Richard Earl of Cornwall, the Abbey was built as a pledge of gratitude to God after the earl survived a shipwreck. In 1539 the abbey became one of the final religious institutions to be destroyed as part of Henry VIII’s Dissolution Act of 1536. Today the Abbey is merely a collection of ruins, but it’s possible to understand how elaborate the buildings once were, and it’s well worth a visit.
3. Cirencester Amphitheatre
For those interested in Roman Britain, a trip to Cirencester’s amphitheatre is a must. The site dates from the 2nd century, when it served as an important regional hub from a social perspective. Historians believe the amphitheatre could house up to 8,000 audience members. The site is celebrated as one of the largest surviving examples of the Roman occupation of Britain. Entry is free, and the site is managed by English Heritage.
4. Sudeley Castle
To many Sudeley Castle is the most impressive historical landmark in the Cotswolds. Located in Winchcombe, the Castle serves as the burial location of Katherine Parr – the last wife of Henry VIII. The stone castle at Sudeley was built in 1441 by Ralph Boteler, who later had the castle confiscated by Edward IV. Today the awe-inspiring 1,200-acre estate is home to some of the most beautiful gardens in the Cotswolds.
5. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, originally constructed as a means by which to celebrate the British victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Today the palace is celebrated the world over as a true masterpiece of 18th-century baroque architecture. It is one of the largest houses in England and serves as the principal residence of the Duke of Marlborough. With 300 years of rich history to explore, Blenheim Palace remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Cotswolds.