England’s Top 5 World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites, designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), commemorate the most significant natural and cultural properties throughout the world. Almost 1000 sites are listed world-wide. Great Britain is host to 28. Four are natural sites, one is both natural and cultural and the remaining are cultural. Today we are focusing on just England, the following five sites represent the continuum of natural and human history in England.


Although megalithic stone circles are present throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the sophisticated engineering and precision of design and execution of Stonehenge make it one of the most important stone circles in the world. Travellers in the 12th century considered it to be one of the wonders of the world.

The Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites complex includes burial grounds, settlements, stone megaliths and earthen constructions dating to the Neolithic Period between 3700 B.C. and 1600 B.C. Early research demonstrated that the stone alignments reflected cosmic phenomena that many believe to be associated with sun worship. Although the exact spiritual significance of the monument is not known, ritual tradition continues with the annual Midsummer Day celebration.

The Tower of London

One of the most well-known landmarks in Britain is the Tower of London, built in 1080 by William the Conqueror, a statement of dominance of Normans over the English.

The original keep, palace and tower exemplify Norman architecture. Over the following centuries, additions to the royal buildings resulted in a distinctive and sophisticated design that became the prototype for castles throughout the kingdom. The tower complex also served as prison, execution ground and repository for treasures of the royalty. Today it houses the Crown Jewels.

The Jurassic Coast

The Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site consists of 95 miles of coastline exhibiting rock formations that narrate 183 million years of geologic history, spanning the Mesozoic Era.

Hike along the cliffs and coastline to see the sand dunes of a vast desert that existed here 250 million years ago or the formations of the ocean and marine life some 100 million years later. The fossils, geologic strata and geomorphologic formations from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods provide important information about the climate, flora and fauna on Earth from 250 to 65 million years ago. Also known as the Jurassic Coast, the cliffs and shoreline have served as a living classroom to scientists for more than 300 years. The cliffs have also appealed to artists, writers and poets including Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, John Fowler and J. M. W. Turner.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 near Oxford, represents the beginning of the English Romantic architectural style and honours the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his victory over French and Bavarian troops at Blindheim, Germany. Its design, symmetrical plan and spacious garden accentuate the naturalistic trend in blending architecture and extensively landscaped park areas. The style influenced architectural development in Britain and abroad.

Hadrian’s Wall

The Roman Empire at its height spanned three continents, extending from Germany through Africa into the Middle East. A 5,000-kilometer defensive line, known as the Limes, constructed over several centuries through Gaul, Germania and Britain secured the territorial borders.

In the 2nd century A.D., emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius constructed massive stone walls, fortifications and forts in the outlying territories of Britain. Hadrian’s Wall, 75 miles long, runs from the River Tyne west to Solway Firth. This portion of the wall and the Antonine Wall form part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire Site located in both Germany and Britain.

For more information you can visit the UK World Heritage website

Photos by .Bala, Fotopedia,  quisnovus Geograph, Geograph

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

If you have a product, service, tour or holiday related to British travel that you are looking to promote to a fast growing, highly targeted audience then the Backpacker Herald is the place for you.