Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

England West Midlands Region


Warwickshire’s great claim to fame derives from its most famous son – William Shakespeare. The Bard was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and today the Warwickshire town retains several buildings associated with Shakespeare and his family. The county’s heritage stretches far beyond the early modern period, however, with Warwickshire’s prehistory including the King Stone, a monolith that forms part of the Rollright Stones complex located on the border with Oxfordshire. The Romans left behind the ruins of a fort at Lunt, which has now been partially reconstructed. Reminders of the Middle Ages include the castles at Warwick and Kenilworth, as well as the moated manor house at Baddesley Clinton. The Battle of Edgehill, one of the earliest clashes in the English Civil War, took place in Warwickshire in 1642. More peaceful times saw the Warwickshire countryside become home to luxury residences like the 18th-century Compton Verney.


Herefordshire is border country. Part of England since the early middle ages, it was once home primarily to Welsh speakers, an identity still apparent in many of its place names. Evidence for habitation in this region stretches right back to the Old Stone Age, although permanent markers in the landscape may have had to wait until the Early Neolithic, when several long barrows were erected here as markers of the dead. Iron Age hillforts and Roman settlement followed, although the richest period for Herefordshire’s heritage is the middle ages. As wars between England the Welsh kingdoms continued, Herefordshire became range to a wealth of castles built to cement monarchical control over the king’s often rebellious subjects. 


The largely rural county of Shropshire is located along the Welsh border and has long been shaped by its borderland status. Offa’s Dyke passes through the county, having probably been built in the 8th century to control crossings between the English kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh territories to the west. Following the emergence of England as a unified state, the area became home to Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords eager to expand their influence over Wales, leading to the emergence of Shropshire castles like those at Clun, Ludlow, and Whittington. The county also has an older heritage, and prehistoric remains include stone circles like the Hoarstones and Mitchell’s Fold as well as hillforts on Coxall Knoll and Bury Ditches. When the Roman armies were here, they established a key settlement at Viroconium Cornoviorum, a town now known as Wroxeter.


Located in the Midlands, Staffordshire possessed various hillforts erected in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, including Kinver Edge and Castle Ring. When this area became part of the Roman Empire, the town of Letocetum grew up at the intersection of the important Watling and Ryknield Streets, its ruins now part of the modern town of Wall. The Middle Ages saw the creation of fortifications such as Stafford Castle and Tamworth Castle, as well as religious establishments like Croxden Abbey, left as a ruin in the wake of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Staffordshire also has several significant early modern buildings within its borders, including the Ancient High House and Izaak Walton’s Cottage. From the 17th century, the Staffordshire town of Stoke-on-Trent became an internationally famous hub for the pottery industry, a heritage now explored at the Potteries Museum and the World of Wedgewood.

West Midlands

Created in 1974, the county of the West Midlands is located within a larger region that is (confusingly) also called the West Midlands. A heavily urbanised area incorporating the city of Birmingham, the West Midlands is England’s second most-populous county. The area has been inhabited since prehistory, a reminder of which can be seen at the Wychbury Ring hillfort on the Worcestershire border. The legacy of the Middle Ages can still be explored at the castles of Dudley and Caludon, as well as at the medieval walls around the city of Coventry. The county’s medieval religious history is meanwhile on display at Saint Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton, which has a 9th-century cross shaft outside it, while the Gothic ruins of Coventry Cathedral, wrecked in the Blitz, still remain standing. Early modern sites include Aston Hall and Moseley Old Hall, while the area’s rich industrial history is showcased at the Black Country Living Museum.


Today probably best known for its namesake sauce, Worcestershire is a largely rural county in England’s West Midlands. Its prehistoric heritage includes the Iron Age hillforts at Berry Mound and Woodbury Hill, as well as earlier round barrows at sites like Barrow Hill near Chaddesley Corbett. The medieval history of Worcestershire can be explored through the 14th-century Leigh Court Barn, the fortified manor house at Hartlebury Castle, and the majestic Worcester Cathedral, burial place of the notorious King John. In the centuries following the Middle Ages, the rolling hills of Worcestershire have become home to a number of historically significant houses, like the Tudor-period Greyfriars House and Garden, the 18th-century stately homes at Hanbury Hall and Croome, as well as the more humble Firs, a mid-19th-century cottage where the composer Edward Elgar was born in 1857.