Archaeology & History Sites in Merseyside

Prehistoric Sites in Merseyside

The Calderstones

A rare survival of prehistoric life in Merseyside, the Calderstones are a series of six sandstone blocks that were likely once part of an Early Neolithic chambered tomb. An earthen mound enclosed the stones up to at least the early 19th century. Various petroglyphs, among them incised lines, cup marks, spirals, and feet, decorate the boulders. The stones were removed from their original position in the 19th century and again shifted in the 1950s. They are now on public display in the Harthill Greenhouses at Calderstones Park.

Robin Hood’s Stone

Named after the legendary Medieval folk hero, Robin Hood’s Stone now stands on the corner of two suburban streets. Developers moved it to this site in 1928, with it having previously stood in a field known as Stone Hey. The standing stone likely derives from the Neolithic or Bronze Age, and might once have been part of the same chambered tomb as the Calderstones. Part of the stone displays cup-and-ring markings, a form of rock art that was produced across much of northern and western Britain in the later Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Medieval Sites in Merseyside

Birkenhead Priory

The oldest standing building in Merseyside, members of the Benedictine Order founded Birkenhead Priory in the 11th century. Throughout the late Middle Ages, the Benedictines who lived here ran a ferry service taking passengers across the River Mersey. The monastic settlement terminated following King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, although several Grade I-listed medieval ruins remain visible. Although largely restored in the early 20th century, the chapter house contains original medieval features and continues to provide regular church services for the local Anglican community. [Website]

Early Modern Sites in Merseyside

Speke Hall

Sitting on the banks of the River Mersey, Speke Hall is a majestic timber-framed manor house built in the 1530s. It was originally the home of the Norris family; they were devout Catholics and ensured that the hall contained a secret priest hole. The house underwent restoration in the 19th century, with additions reflecting the Arts and Crafts aesthetic then in vogue. The present garden design also dates from this period. Now owned by the National Trust, Speke Hall offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of urban Merseyside. [Website]

Croxteth Hall

Croxteth Hall is a manor house originally built in the 1570s for the Earls of Sefton. The house remained in the family’s ownership until the 1970s, undergoing much modification over those four centuries. Today, the dominant aesthetic of the house’s exterior and interior is 18th century. 19th century additions included a redbrick kennel, while Queen Victoria stayed overnight at the hall in 1851. Although Croxteth’s country estate has been much reduced by the suburban expansion of Liverpool, the remaining grounds contain a nature reserve, walled garden, and working farm. [Website]

Modern Sites in Merseyside

Sudley House

Built in 1824 for the corn merchant and future Lord Mayor of Liverpool Nicholas Robinson, Sudley House underwent significant modification in the 1880s. It was later home to George Holt, a ship owner and merchant who was also a keen art collector. Holt filled the house with his collection, much of which remains on display today. Among the painters whose work features are 18th century greats like Turner, Reynolds, and Gainsborough. As well as serving as a gallery, the house also displays items reflecting its history as a family home. [Website]

Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre

Between 1810 and 1840, the wealthy businessman Joseph Williamson ordered the construction of a labyrinth of tunnels under the Edge Hill area of Liverpool. Why he did so remains a mystery – suggestions have ranged from a philanthropic desire to employ the poor to an attempt to escape a forthcoming apocalypse. The tunnels were later backfilled but resurfaced through archaeological excavation in the 1990s. The heritage centre facilitates tours of the tunnel system and helps to provide greater insight into Williamson himself and the men who laboured to build his bizarre creation. [Website]

20th Century Historic Sites in Merseyside

The Hardmans’ House

Among the well-preserved houses lining the Georgian terrace of Rodney Street is number 59, a building which rose to historical notability as the home of the Irish photographer E. Chambré Hardman from 1947 to 1988. Although Hardman and his wife ran a portraiture business, his real love was for landscape photography and examples of this work, alongside the equipment used to produce it, is on display in the house. The National Trust obtained the building in the early 2000s and opened it to the public after a period of conservation and restoration. [Website]

Port Sunlight

While most heritage sites consist only of a single building, Port Sunlight is different: an entire village recognised for its important historical value. Commissioned through an act of bourgeois philanthropy, construction began on former marshland in the final decades of the 19th century. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts ethos, each house was unique and destined to house the workers of the Lever Brothers soap-making factory. A legally recognised Conservation Area, Port Sunlight contains 900 Grade II-listed buildings, an art gallery, and a museum devoted to the village’s history. [Website]

251 Menlove Avenue – Mendips

Liverpool is synonymous with The Beatles, perhaps the most successful and iconic rock band in history. In recognition of this fact, the National Trust maintain the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney–the Beatles’ main songwriters–as visitors’ sites. Built in the 1930s, Lennon’s semi-detached house in Melove Avenue was his home from 1946 to 1963. It was here that he lived with his aunt and uncle from the ages of five to twenty-two, and where he co-wrote at least one of the Beatles’ earliest songs.

Join English Heritage and/or the National Trust

Many attractions listed on this page are managed by English Heritage or the National Trust. Besides supporting their work, joining these organisations offers you many benefits. Read about the benefits of joining English Heritage and/or the National Trust. For non-residents of England, you could benefit from a Pass for Overseas Visitors.
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Museums in Merseyside

World Museum Liverpool

World Museum Liverpool first opened to the public in March 1853, after the Earl of Derby died leaving his natural history collection to the City of Liverpool in 1851. Since then the museum has moved and expanded to become one of the largest museums in the UK. There are exhibits of both life and earth sciences, as well as archaeological and ethnographic collections from human cultures around the world, including Precolombian America, Africa, Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. [Website]

Museum of Liverpool

Located on Liverpool’s waterfront, The Museum of Liverpool explores the global significance of this famous British port city, from its earliest times to the Industrial Revolution and the Slave Trade, to the city’s reputation in more recent creative endeavours. The archaeology is displayed in an innovative exhibition called ‘The History Detectives’. [Website]

Popular Activities in Liverpool