England offers rich combinations of beautiful landscapes where apparently timeless villages nestle within easy reach of modern towns, and every stone seems to breathe its heady historical and cultural air. Having been a state for over a thousand years, despite the twists and turns of its history, England has a wealth of well-preserved and accessible archaeological and cultural sites. As a country which pioneered archaeology, its long story, which stretches back thousands of years, is readily available for you to explore. From the first farmers of the Neolithic, through the splendours of the Bronze and Iron Ages, the contrasting cultures of the imperial Romans and the Anglo-Saxons, you can move to the mighty castles and abbeys of the mediaeval period, and the studied refinement of the country house. England’s culture and history has a depth and variety that is hard to match. The importance of her language, and the example of her hard-won right to say that rulers could not do as they wished make England’s story an essential one.
Here is a country that possesses some of the finest and best-preserved monuments from the earliest days of humans building their mark into the landscape, where you can observe their successors developing a distinct array of identities by alternately adopting, adapting or rejecting continental influences, their nameless makers leaving mysterious earthworks and burial mounds or elaborate grave goods in their wake to match anything from the rest of Europe. With the coming of the Romans, England emerges into history as the province of Britannia and gives us a fascinating chance to see the interplay between Celtic and Mediterranean civilisation, illuminated by World Heritage Sites like Hadrian’s Wall. After Rome, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans all leave their impact on the landscape, language and historical DNA with their great monuments, and in the country’s first-rate museums which proudly display the wonders of their art and the fascinating reminders of their daily life. England’s increasing involvement in European and World history from the Middle Ages on gives her an unbeatable appeal to the cultural traveller keen to immerse themselves in the many stories written into the web of the landscape here.
England’s thread is woven with that of all its neighbours, and its blend of familiar modernity with the old and obscure makes a perfect and accessible introduction to the history of the whole continent. Its spectacular historical path has inspired all forms of retellings, as well as producing a fertile literary, intellectual and artistic culture that has inspired the world. Here you can see the wellspring that it all flows from.
Whether you come with a desire to connect with an ancestral home, to see the world that Turner, Constable and Ravilious saw, walk the lanes that produced Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens in a country that gave its language to the world, something in your encounter with England with enthral you. It’s not easy to tell that long story briefly, but here’s an introduction to the main steps along the way.