15+ D-Day Sites to Visit in England

When we think of D-Day, we all have mental images of troops landing on the beaches of Normandy. What about where they left from? D-Day was months in the planning and preparations, all of which took place in the UK. In honour of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we have compiled a list of the sites in the UK, including Cambridgeshire, where you can learn about the other side of the D-Day landings …Continue Reading >>

Sarah Nash

Archaeology Travel

Remains of a D-Day Pill box on the beach at Studland Bay, England.

Archaeology & History Sites in Cambridgeshire

Prehistoric Sites in Cambridgeshire

Flag Fen
A reconstructed roundhouse at Flag Fen.

Flag Fen is one of the best-known Bronze Age sites in Britain. It consists of a timber causeway that stretched for over half a mile into the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. Bronze Age people deposited many prestigious items, including swords, spearheads, and jewellery, into the water along the causeway, in what must have been ritually significant acts. A visitors’ centre displays many of the artefacts from the site, while reconstructed roundhouses allow visitors to more fully immerse themselves in the prehistoric experience. Photo © Kev747/Wikimedia

Wandlebury Hill Fort
A ditch between ramparts at Wandlebury Hill Fort, Cambridgeshire.

The Iron Age was an era of increasing militarisation in Britain, as the island’s tribes built defensive settlements now known as hillforts. The example atop Wandlebury Hill in the Gog Magog Downs, just southeast of Cambridge, is one of the best known from (the otherwise rather flat) Cambridgeshire. The area remained in use in later periods, with a 17th century manor house being built in the fort’s interior, of which only the stable remains. Entry to the site is free and visitors can follow the bank and ditch around the contours of the hillfort. Photo © Sebastian Ballard/Wikimedia

Medieval Sites in Cambridgeshire

Devil’s Dyke
The ridge that is Devil's Dyke alongside the July Course, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire.

An earthen bank-and-ditch, Devil’s Dyke stretches for over seven miles from Woodditton to Reach. At points the bank reaches nine metres high. Archaeologists have long debated its origins, but it is probably Early Medieval. During the 6th and 7th centuries competing Anglo-Saxon kingdoms divided England amongst themselves. The dyke probably represents a border between Mercia to the west and East Anglia to the east. One of the largest earthworks in Britain, much of the land crossed by the Dyke is National Trust owned and used by walkers. Photo © Bob Jones/Wikimedia

Denny Abbey and the Farmland Museum
An aerial view of Denny Abbey, with the associated Farmland Museum.

Denny Abbey was constructed in 1159 for Benedictine use, although in 1170 the Knights Templar took over and used it to house their elderly and infirm members. After the suppression of the Templars in the early 14th century, a Franciscan order of nuns settled into the building. Following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries it became a farm and remained such until the 1960s. Now owned by English Heritage, it is managed by the Farmland Museum, who use it to display aspects of rural Cambridgeshire life. Photo © English Heritage

Duxford Chapel
The 14th century Duxford Chapel in Cambridgeshire

The 14th century chapel at Duxford has enigmatic origins. Medieval records indicate that the Hospital of St John was located nearby, and it may be that this was on the site of the chapel. By 1337 it had clearly become a ‘free chapel’ or chantry, a place where priests were employed to say masses for the deceased. In 1648, King Edward VI abolished the chantries and the chapel fell out of use. Eventually it became a storage barn used by a local Red Lion Inn. The English Heritage-owned site is open without charge. Photo © Tony Lewis/Wikimedia

Isleham Priory Church
Isleham church is one of the best surviving examples of a small Benedictine priory in England.

England’s best surviving example of a small Benedictine priory, it is likely that Count Alan of Brittany founded the church around 1100. Evidence for the daily life of the monastic community is visible just north of the building, where earthworks testify to their agricultural activities. In 1440 the site was gifted to Pembroke College, Cambridge and at some point after this converted into a barn. The original 12th century walls and many other contemporary features remain intact. English Heritage owns the site and entry is free. Photo © Bob Jones/Wikimedia

Longthorpe Tower
14th-century domestic wall paintings in Longthorpe Tower, Cambridgeshire.

A 13 metre tower in the village of Longthorpe, this site was a 14th century feature of an older Medieval building. The tower contains one of the most important 14th century domestic wall paintings extant in Northern Europe. The images are largely religious, featuring angels, saints and other Biblical figures. These were whitewashed during the Reformation and only revealed in the 1940s. The tower is open on selected weekends and bank holidays. Photo © English Heritage

Early Modern Sites in Cambridgeshire

Anglesey Abbey
The south facing facade of Anglesey Abbey country house.

Anglesey Abbey is a 17th century country house designed in the Jacobean style, albeit with various 19th century modifications. The site takes its name from a priory built on the site in the 12th century and dismantled during the dissolution of the monasteries. During the 1930s, the house’s then-owner, the aristocrat Urban Huttleston Broughton, restored much of it. When he died in 1966, the National Trust took over. Landscape gardens surround the house and there is a working 18th century watermill on the site. Photo © James Stringer/Wikimedia

Wimpole Hall
Wimpole Hall, the largest country house in Cambridgeshire.

The largest country house in Cambridgeshire, construction of Wimpole Hall began in 1640. Local aristocrat Thomas Chicheley commissioned it to replace his family’s earlier moated building. Subsequent centuries brought alteration and expansion. Many of the rooms are furnished with sumptuous Georgian interiors, most notably the Yellow Drawing Room designed by Sir John Soane. The Hall is in a 2,500 acre estate, and several designers, among them Capability Brown, were responsible for the landscaping. Photo © Chris Cole/Wikimedia

Modern Sites in Cambridgeshire

Houghton Mill
Houghton Mill on the Great Ouse River.

A water mill on the Great Ouse, Houghton Mill was built in the 18th century. It had antecedents, with a watermill being recorded in the village from 974, when it was under the control of the Benedictine abbey at Ramsey. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, the crown took ownership of the building and it remained a working mill until the 1930s. Now owned by the National Trust, the site is open on selected weekends and bank holidays. It also contains an exhibit of 19th and 20th century paintings depicting the local area. Photo © Cmglee/Wikimedia

Museums in Cambridgeshire

The Fitzwilliam Museum
The striking neoclassical entrance to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in the University of Cambridge was founded in 1816 with the personal library and art collection of Viscount Fitzwilliam. The museum’s art collection is considered one of the finest in he country. Since then numerous important pieces have been donated or purchased. Today the museum houses a diverse collection of antiquities from ancient Egypt and Sudan, the pre-Classical periods of Mesopotamia, and Classical Greece and Rome. Photo © Trevor Harris/Wikimedia [Website]