Visiting Britain’s UK World Heritage Sites

Visiting Britain’s world heritage sites.There are 31 spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom. Between them, they comprise some of the most spectacular and memorable cultural sites in Europe, and attract many tourists every year. Sites such as Stonehenge and Blenheim Castle are iconic British locations, as are the Tower of London and the Dorset and East Devon Coastline. Other, lesser known sites, such as Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast (in Ireland) and Heart of Neolithic Orkney (in Scotland) are equally impressive, and also offer an enormous amount to travellers.

The complete list of Britain’s World Heritage Sites includes seventeen in England, five in Scotland, one shared between the boundary of England and Scotland (Hadrian’s Wall), three in Wales, and one in Northern Island. The sites have all been recognized as places of cultural or national importance by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Drawing travellers from all over the world, these spectacular sites still retain their startling power. Odyssey Traveller incorporates visits to many of these sites in our UK tours, using knowledgable local guides as well as expert tour leaders to ensure that our groups get the most out of their experiences.

This blog post details some of the most spectacular UNESCO Sites (many of which are included in our tours). It provides information about their history and formation, as well as giving a sense of what travellers can look forward to when they visit these breathtaking British icons.

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Catbells, Lake District, England

The History of World Heritage

The World Heritage committee is a division of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation), which is, of course, an Agency of the United Nations.

The World Heritage committee began in 1954. The Egyptian government was planning to build the new Aswan High Dam, a project that would eventually result in the inundation of an area of the Nile valley containing many ancient Egyptian treasures. In order to ensure that the artefacts would be protected, UNESCO set about organising the recovery, excavation, and recording of hundreds of threatened sites, included the famed temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. The campaign continued until 1980. The formalisation of the World Heritage committee as a body that protects both cultures and the environment took place during this period, in 1975.

As of July 2017, there are 1073 listed World Heritage sites, the country with the most being Italy with 53, followed closely by China with 52. Australia has 19!

If a site is considered to be under threat that require a response, a location may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. Each site is reviewed annually to determine the state of any threat, and the World Heritage committee can take this opportunity to request protective measures or remove the property form the list.

Today, the mission of UNESCO’s World Heritage agency is to identify, protect, and preserve “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”

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Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

One of the world’s most iconic prehistoric monuments, Stonehenge is over 5,000 years old. Based on human bone deposits, scientists estimate that work on the stones began as early as 3,000 BCE. After the initial ditch and bank was dug, work on the monument continued for at least another five hundred years, with successive generations slowly adding to it. Along with the actual standing stones, many Bronze Age burial mounds were built nearby, along with other assorted monuments and culturally significant sites.

Stonehenge is located 3km outside Amesbury, and is a must-visit location when visiting England’s picturesque southwest.

It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC. In the early Bronze Age many burial mounds were built nearby. Today, along with Avebury, it forms the heart of a World Heritage Site, with a unique concentration of prehistoric monuments.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.[1]

Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC,[2] although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC.[3][4][5]

One of the most famous landmarks in the UK, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon.[6] It has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first successfully introduced in Britain. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage; the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.[7][8]

Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings.[9] Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, and continued for at least another five hundred years.[10]

Historical monument Stonehenge, England, United Kingdom


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Avebury Stones

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew


Royal Gardens at Kew
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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal


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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Ironbridge Gorge


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The English Lake District



City of Bath


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Bathwick Hill, Bath

Blenheim Palace


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Blenheim Palace and Gardens

Frontiers of the Roman Empire


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Hadrian’s Wall


Odyssey Travellers small group tours

Odyssey Traveller is a not-for-profit organisation offering Australia and New Zealand’s most comprehensive educational tour programs. We provide worldwide experiences for mature travellers who are keen to blend a love of travel with a thirst for knowledge, and we welcome participants from any country.

Odyssey Traveller is famous for our small groups, and we average eight participants per tour. Our maximum group size is eighteen people, which ensures quality, flexibility and care that is tailored to our clients. We specialise in small group tours for the senior traveller who is seeking adventure or is curious about the world we live in. Typically, our clients begin travelling with us from their mid 50’s onward. Both couples and singles are welcome.

About Odyssey Traveller

Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities. Accordingly, we are pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals.

For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit our website. Alternatively, please call or send an email. We’d love to hear from you!

Packages for Tours of the UK

Odyssey Traveller Australia’s all inclusive UK vacation packages provide unique experiences for senior travellers. Our Agrarian and Industrial Britain Small Group Tour for Mature Travellers, for instance, is perfect for singles and couples seeking a trip to the UK that takes you off the beaten track, while also letting you experience the best Heritage Sites that the country has to offer. Likewise, Odyssey’s Walking Rural Britain, small group history tour for mature travellers offers the chance to explore the country by train. Learn about the country’s history from an experienced guide. Book your next tour of the United Kingdom with the specialists in educational travel. If you’re keen to experience our guided tours of the UK, please call or send an email. We’d love to hear from you! For all Odyssey’s UK travel packages click here.

Coastal Britain

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The Industrial Revolution brought great change to Britain with the linking of major rivers with canals and the development of railways. During our program we learn how engineers overcame geographical obstacles through the use of viaducts, bridges, aqueducts, tunnels and locks. Fortunately for us many of these impressive structures have been restored and now carry recreational boating with branch railways through spectacular landscapes.

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