Britain’s historic towns: Discover some of Britain’s historic towns. You can learn about their history, fun facts, festivals, and of course some cool English expressions along the way.

Kirkwall

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Introduction

Did you know that Scotland is like a time machine as you can enjoy both amazing historical sights and fun contemporary things to see and do.

If you visit some of Scotland’s historic towns, you can call yourself a true time traveller, having experienced Scottish history from prehistoric times up to the Victorian era.

You might be wondering where Kirkwall is!

Well, it’s located on the beautiful Orkney Islands off Scotland's north coast. It’s a vibrant capital and a fascinating ancient Norse town.

The islands have the largest number of ancient sites in Europe and exciting new discoveries are still being made to this day.

The name Kirkwall comes from the Norse name Kirkjuvágr, which means ‘Church on the bay.’ It was founded more than a thousand years ago around 1035 by the Viking Earl Rognvald Brusason and quickly became the administrative centre of Orkney.

The original town is one of the best-preserved examples of an ancient Norse town. And to some, Kirkwall seems more of a Scandinavian town than a Scottish one, and for a large part of its history it was.

However, James III of Scotland annexed the islands in 1472 and its history became part of Scotland’s from that point onwards. Kirkwall though, has kept that independent Viking identity, and is now home to around 9,000 people.

Although Kirkland was founded around 1035, people have been building amazing monuments and buildings in Orkney for around 5,000 years. You can discover an array of historical places as you explore the islands.

Today, Kirkwall is now a bustling market town, and a lively centre for shopping and eating out. The town also has Scotland’s most beautiful street which was voted for in 2019.

So, why are we waiting, let’s find out more about this historic town that is full of interesting history.

Hidden Gems: Standing stones of St Stenness

First up is the historical hidden gem that will allow you to step back in time over 5000 years. The enormous Stones of Stenness are all that remains of a once great stone circle on an ancient ceremonial site.

Today, there are four standing stones up to 6m in height in a circle that originally held 12 stones. The Standing Stones of Stenness could be the oldest stone circle in the UK, possibly older than Stonehenge in the South of England.

Although there are known to be 12 stones in a circle with only 4 left standing, it has been found that one, possibly two of the stones were never put into place, which means it was never finished.

This is one of the mysteries of the site. Today, many still disagree on what they were for and how they were able to move the stones and lift them into place.

If you can find the answers, then please let me know.

Places to visit: The historic settlement of Skara Brae

The above is just one of many exciting things to see and do in Kirkwall as there are numerous historical treasures to feast your eyes on.

One of these dates back to long before Stonehenge or even before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Step back 5,000 years in time to explore the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe - Skara Brae, which was once a thriving village.

Discovered in 1850, Skara Brae remains a place of discovery today. Visit a replica of a Neolithic house to see how the inside may have looked. Then follow the walk-way next to the ancient buildings, imagining what life was like for the farmers, and fishermen who lived there.

Skara Brae is not only remarkable because of its age, but even more so for the quality of its preservation. Incredibly, some of the furniture such as stone beds in the village houses can still be seen!

We can see what life was really like in the stone age.

This place is a must if you visit Kirkwall and the islands of Orkney.

Places to visit: St Magnus Cathedral

Let’s move on in history to the time of the Vikings when they once ruled over these lands.

Welcome to St Magnus Cathedral, Britain’s most northerly Cathedral, also known as the ‘Light in the North.’

The construction of the cathedral began in 1137, during the time of Norse rule and took around 300 years to complete. Today, it is widely considered to be the best medieval building in the north of Scotland.

It was founded by the Viking, Earl Rognvald, to remember his uncle Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney, who was killed in Orkney by his cousin.

He was buried inside one of the pillars in the cathedral. So, the cathedral can boast that a Viking king lies within its walls.

The cathedral is situated in the heart of Kirkwall and is simply stunning inside. Not only is it steeped in history dating back to the Vikings, but to wander around and explore the exquisite rooms will leave you awe-struck.

Places to visit: Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces

Along with St Magnus Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace is also one of the best-preserved buildings from this era.

The Bishop’s Palace was built around the same time as St Magnus Cathedral, in the early 12th century. The builder may have been Bishop William ‘the Old’, a friend of Earl Rognvald who founded St Magnus Carthedral.

One of the most important events at the palace was when the Viking king Haakon IV (4th) of Norway died in the Bishop’s Palace on 15 December 1263. The king had just arrived from losing the Battle of Largs.

After the king died, his body was placed in the palace’s hall.

The ornate Earl’s Palace was built much later, in the early 1600s by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney.

Earl’s Palace was built to impress and still has the power to impress today. You can see the spacious rooms, fireplaces, bed chambers and great hall.

If you do visit these places, you can enjoy being at the centre of medieval Kirkwall. You can enjoy the wonderful St Magnus Cathedral, imagine the Bishop’s Palace as it was back in the 12th century, and admire the stunning façade of the ornate Earl’s Palace.

It’s a journey through time that you will never forget.

Places to visit: Highland Park Distillery and visitor centre

To be honest, travelling through time can make you thirsty and in need of a drink. So, where can you go to sit back, relax and enjoy a local glass of whisky?

Well, look no further as the Highland Park Distillery and visitor centre has it all.

Not only can you enjoy the whisky and see how it’s made, you can also meet the modern-day Viking descendants who make the whisky today.

The distillery has been producing the finest whisky since 1798 and are always looking to produce the perfect whisky for all of us to enjoy.

You can go on various tours which have videos where you can learn the history of the distillery and their Viking roots, and finish off by tasting the whisky for yourself. Which of course, is the best part!

You can also receive gifts such as a tasting glass and book about the history of the distillery.

They also have a private tour where you can go behind the scenes and visit places that are not open to other visitors.

It’s a wonderful place where you can not only learn some great history and how the local whisky is made, but also enjoy a tipple for yourself.

Be careful not to drink too much because if you are a lightweight like me, you may be needing a chair to sit down if you enjoy the whisky too much.

Places to visit: Orkney Folklore and Storytelling Centre

Now, you have explored the historical sites and have drank the local whisky, and may be wondering what else is there to do. You might also be tired and in need of a rest from discovering the numerous historical sites.

Well, Orkney Folklore and Storytelling Centre, is a place that can allow you to just sit back, put your feet up, have a coffee to recover from the whisky, and simply listen to the stories of the history of the people that once lived here.

It is located in Sandwick, just three miles from the Standing Stones of Stenness and only two miles from the stone age village, Skara Brae.

You can enjoy a unique Orkney Island experience and discover the legends from local storytellers. They will tell you stories of past kings and mysteries that have been told for centuries.

You can also sit by the fire in the Folklore and Heritage library, browse and explore the old Orkney books, newspapers, and even enjoy 19th Century photographs of past locals who worked the land and fished the seas.

It’s a fantastic experience for the whole family as they even have storytelling events for children.

Here you can sit back, relax and enjoy the history of this historic place told by fun and experienced storytellers.

Festivals: Orkney Folk Festival

However, you might be wondering about events where the whole community comes together, let’s their hair down, and has a jolly old time. Well, if you visit in May, you can enjoy the Orkney Folk Festival.

The Orkney Folk Festival has become one of the most popular events in Orkney. For four days it brings the finest folk music to the islands for you to enjoy and dance the night away.

The festival will have numerous events that will satisfy all who come. Although some events will need tickets, there will be countless free events where bands will play outside and in some of the historic pubs in the town of Stromness.

Here you can mix with locals and make a new friend or two.

Since it all started back in 1983, one of the festival’s most important parts is the balance of visiting and local artists. Artists from around the world love to come and perform here. It is also now regarded as one of the best and friendliest festivals in Scotland.

Many come and enjoy the festival and the electric atmosphere it creates, so much that they return year after year to experience the music and hospitality from the locals.

So, get your dancing shoes ready and be prepared to dance till you drop!

Summary

Well, it’s time to leave this wonderful place. A place full of mystery and 5000 years to discover.

All that exploring, discovering ancient history, drinking locally made whisky, fantastic storytelling, and the folk festival, will leave a lasting impression on all you visit.

You will also enjoy some of the most incredible views in the UK with an abundance of wildlife everywhere you go.

It’s a place steeped in history, and one that should be on your bucket list of things to see and do.

See you there!

Stirling

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Please download the PDF first before you continue. All of the vocabulary sheets and extra information is on there for you. Please see the link for this above.

Please study the vocabulary first as it will help with understanding the audio.

After, listen to the audio and let the journey of discovery begin.

 

Introduction

Welcome to the land of legends and heroes.

A historical city in central Scotland, Stirling is one of the country’s most interesting places to visit, especially if you like to step back in time and soak up the history of Scotland.

It was sometime in the 1120's that Stirling became a town. The name Stirling comes from Striveling, meaning place of strife. Strife means trouble as there were many battles fought in and around the area over the centuries.

The city has always been one of the most important cities in Scotland, and for those who wish to travel here, you will not be disappointed by what the city and local area have to offer.

Stirling's beautifully preserved Old Town is a treasure trove of historical buildings that lead you to the awe-inspiring Stirling castle, which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding area.

Discover National heroes

You can enter the world of Mary Queen Scots, the Scottish national hero William Wallace who fought against England to free Scotland, and Robert the Bruce who defeated the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

You can also discover more about the battle of Stirling where William Wallace defeated the English in 1297.

The town was the key to controlling Scotland which is why so many battles happened here.

Stirling today

Today, Stirling is a vibrant mix of old and new. Not only can you enjoy the historic old town which is full to the brim with historical gems, but also the modern town centre which offers a fine selection of restaurants and quaint coffee shops to put your feet up in style after a day of sightseeing.

Stirling is also well known for its live music scene, bars and independent shops. Don’t forget the farmers’ markets either, bursting with local products from all around the area of Stirling.

So, get ready to enter the world of Scotland’s kings and queens and discover the fascinating history of the city of Stirling.

Hidden Gem: Explore the Bastion and Thieves Pot in Thistle Centre

First up is a hidden gem that will entice all who visit.

When you think of a shopping centre, you probably imagine yourself in a place with shops and food areas which are full of avid shoppers enjoying their day.

However, what would you say if I tell you that Thistle Centre in Stirling is not only a modern-day shopping mall but also a place where you can discover an exciting dark history of Stirling?

You may be surprised, as I was, that you can experience the 16th-century jail underneath the shopping area which will take you on a journey back in time.

The Bastion originates in the 1540s and is a big part of Stirling’s history.

This place is part of a larger building hidden underneath the ground with numerous dark rooms and walk-ways that remind you of the dark history of crimes and punishments that happened in the past.

The Bastion Jail and Thieves Pot was renovated at the beginning of 2018 and can now scare you again with its dark but very interesting history. This small museum really has its own unique atmosphere which is worth exploring.

I forgot to add that it is FREE to get in. So, get ready to walk down into this dark and scary room to discover an interesting part of Stirling’s past.

Places to visit: Stirling castle

After visiting the Bastion Jail and Thieves Pot, you will be left wanting more. So, there is no better place to go than the historic Stirling Castle.

This is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland and is also the place where not one, not two, but three kings were born!

What more can you want!

It was also the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and dates back to the 12th century, though much of the castle that we see today was built during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Stirling Castle was the key to Scotland as to be in control of Stirling castle was to control Scotland itself.

In addition, the famous battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn where Scotland defeated the English took place not far from the castle’s walls.

If you want to discover Scottish history at its best, then this place is for you.

Places to visit: National Wallace Monument

Next up is a place where you can follow the story of Sir William Wallace, the man who defeated the English at Stirling bridge, not far from the castle.

Movie lovers might know him, as the Hollywood movie Braveheart, told the story of Sir William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

He fought to free Scotland from England’s control and became a national hero of Scotland.

The monument is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks and has breathtaking views of the surrounding area. You can also see the place of Scotland’s famous victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

In addition, you can explore three engaging exhibitions as you climb the 246 steps to the top and enjoy panoramic views of Stirling.

I have to say, it won’t be easy to walk to the top so make sure you save some energy and wear some comfortable shoes.

The place is perfect for movie and history buffs as for over 150 years it has attracted visitors from all over the world.

Places to visit: The Church of the Holy Rude

Also close to the castle is another jewel in the city’s crown - The Church of the Holy Rude.

Founded in the 12th century, and the second oldest building in Stirling, the Church is in a stunning location and was the place for the coronation of James VI (6th) in 1567 who was the son of Mary Queen of Scots.

The church is also the only church in the United Kingdom today, apart from Westminster Abbey, to have held a coronation.

The name Church of the Holy Rude was first given to a church that stood on this site in the 1130s. "Holy Rude" means Holy Cross.

The church was re-built after a fire in 1405 and the medieval timber oak roof that was built in 1414 is one of very few medieval timber roofs still surviving in Scotland.

Here you can follow in the footsteps of Stirling’s history and the history-makers themselves.

Places to visit: Battle of Bannockburn Experience

If the above is not enough and you want to soak up more of Stirling’s rich history, you can immerse yourself in the Battle of Bannockburn Experience.

Thanks to advanced 3D state-of-the-art technology, you’ll feel that you’re at the battle on the momentous day in 1314 when Robert the Bruce changed the course of Scottish history and defeated the English.

It is one of the most famous battles in Scottish history.

You can see minute by minute what happened on the day and find out about some of the stories of the people who were there on the day of the battle.

You can follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce himself.

Festivals: The Stirling Highland Games -Takes place in August

Now, after visiting all of the historical places in Stirling, you might be feeling the need to just unwind and have some fun.

Well, look no further as the Stirling Highland Games is great fun for all the family.

Stirling Highland Games is one of central Scotland’s great annual cultural sporting events, welcoming up to 8000 visitors from throughout Scotland, the UK and overseas to enjoy the 1-day event.

The Games not only has traditional Highland games competitions, but it also offers visitors a fantastic ‘festival style’ day out with lots to see and do including a market, walking tours, an activities area for the kids, and a fantastic food and drink experience with local food and local beers for all who attend.

The main games area also offers spectacular views of National Wallace Monument, and the historic Stirling castle.

The competitions on offer include an array of traditional Scottish events and Pipe band performances throughout the day.

If you are looking to join in the fun on the day you can, as visitors can join in the visitor races and other games to show what they can do.

The festival is a cultural feast that has activities for the whole family. It’s a fantastic experience full of sport, fun, history and people letting the hair down.

Summary

To sum up Stirling, Stirling is a must-see city which combines cosmopolitan living and ancient, historical sites.

It’s a perfect mix of old and new.

As well as bursting with history, Stirling is packed full of other attractions. The surrounding countryside and lochs are also spectacular where you can enjoy views that are out of this world.

If you are history buff, an avid traveller, or someone who just loves shopping and drinking in quaint coffee shops, then this place should be on the top of your bucket list of things to see and do.

See you there!

York

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Please download the PDF first before you continue. All of the vocabulary sheets and extra information is on there for you. Please see the link for this above.

Please study the vocabulary first as it will help with understanding the audio.

After, listen to the audio and let the journey of discovery begin.

 

Introduction

Imagine a city with Roman roots and a Viking past, where ancient walls surround contemporary and vibrant shops.

Welcome to York - the city of adventure!

And let’s not forget what King George VI (6th) once said: "The History of York is the history of England."

York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historical cities. It was first founded nearly a 1,000 years ago and was once the capital of Viking Britain.

York or Yorvik to the Vikings, Eboracum to the Romans, and Eoforwick to the Saxons, is steeped in history.

The city was first settled by members of the mysterious Roman ninth legion, the legion that disappeared and was never to be seen again while in Scotland. The ninth legion slowly built up the city around the Roman fort.

Biggest influence

However, it’s really the Viking influence that is most noticeable in York today. The city was conquered by the Vikings in the 9th century and was controlled by Viking kings for centuries.

After the Norman invasion in 1066 where William the conqueror defeated King Harold, the king of England, this city became William the Conqueror’s centre for helping to control the north.

He re-built old Viking buildings and walls in stone to make York a city of great economic importance. Much of its medieval architecture remains today and the city’s historic ‘Shambles’ in the heart of the city, is one of the most well-preserved streets from that era in Europe.

This place is a history buffs dream!

Hidden Gems: Barley Hall

First up is one of the hidden gems in York.

While you are in this great city, you can step off the beaten path and delve deeper into the city’s ancient past.

You can discover Barley Hall, a stunning medieval townhouse, dating back to the 1400’s, which was only rediscovered in the 1980’s.

You can step back in time through 650 years of history at Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the most well-preserved guildhall in Europe.

While you explore the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall you can delve deeper into York’s entrepreneurial past, present and future following stories of the business pioneers who made it all happen!

You can find out about the medieval past, the railways, chocolate, universities, to modern day Science.

It’s a stunning building full to the brim of York’s past. A perfect place to let the journey of discovery begin.

Must see attractions: York Castle Museum

Once you have discovered all that Barley Hall has to offer, why not take a trip down to York’s Castle Museum.

The award-winning, York Castle Museum, is a museum where you can immerse yourself in over 400 years of York's past.

You can discover hundreds of years of York’s history in one place and see how York developed into one of the best and most interesting cities in the UK.

There’s something for everyone as the interactive exhibitions hold thousands of historic objects that really bring the past to life. In addition, their new exhibitions offer fascinating displays and innovative new ways of learning about York’s past.

If your children are in need of something to do, then this is the perfect place. It’s fun, full of history, and a great place for entertaining the kids.

Must see attractions: Jorvik Viking Centre

For those that really want to discover the ancient history of York, then the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must.

At the Jorvik Viking Centre you are standing on the very spot where some of the most amazing discoveries in modern archaeology were found.

You can travel back in time to 10th century York, experience what it was like living in the city. You will be able to soak up the sights, sounds and even the smells of the Viking Age as it is brought back to life as you journey back 1,000 years.

You can see some of the most beautiful and rare Viking artefacts in the world, from earrings and socks to frying pans and even a fossilised Viking poo! You never know, it may be the poo of a Viking king!

It might be a smelly experience but fantastic!

So, come and dig deeper into the Viking story of York while using the latest in cutting-edge technology that brings their story to life.

Must see attractions: The Shambles – shop till you drop!

After discovering York’s history, you might feel the need to do some shopping to find that souvenir to take home.

Where should I go you may ask!

Well, the Shambles is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century.

Although none of the original shops have survived from medieval times, some shops still look like they did hundreds of years ago.

The Shambles was known for selling meat, and as recently as 1872 twenty-five butcher shops were located along the street, but now none are left.

This may be a good thing as in the past it was known to be very, very smelly.

The street was made narrow to keep the meat out of direct sunlight. You can easily imagine the Shambles packed with people in medieval times doing their daily shopping and looking for the perfect piece of meat to cook for their family.

York’s most famous shopping street was once full to the brim of Butcher shops. However, today, the beautiful old buildings now have funky cafès, quirky boutiques and other quaint shops to satisfy any avid history fan and avid shopper.

In addition, the unique beauty of the Shambles has been recognised and awarded the title of the most picturesque street in Britain in the Google Street View Awards.

With its medieval buildings, Shambles is also believed to have given the idea for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies.

Due to this, York has now become known as a tourist hot spot for Harry Potter fans to come and see "Diagon Alley".

So, visit the Shambles, have a butchers, shop until you drop, find that perfect souvenir to take home and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this world famous street.

Festivals: Jorvik Viking Festival

After all of the above, you may feel the need to sit back and relax with a cup of coffee. However. if you visit around the middle of February, you might get to meet a Viking walking around city!

Oh my god you might say and feel the need to run away and hide. However, don’t worry, as these Vikings are friendly and are always ready to help if needed.

If you have the pleasure of meeting these Vikings, it means that you are visiting during the Jorvik Viking festival.

So, prepare yourself, as for nine days in February, York will be invaded by the Vikings once more. York’s annual invasion of Vikings is the largest festival of its kind in Europe.

The nine-day event of family-friendly events, storytelling, concerts, guided walks and battle re-enactments attracts over 60,000 visitors each year from around the world.

If you walk around York’s streets you won’t fail to bump into a roaming Viking where you can take that perfect photo or video to put onto instagram.

It’s a celebration of York’s Viking past!

You can even dress up as a Viking yourself and be a Viking for a day. It’s great for the whole family where you can learn some great history and have a fantastic time.

Please remember to always check online before you go for when this event happens as it can change.

Summary

To sum up this great city would take an age as it is rich in history. You can discover Roman, Viking, Norman and Saxon history all in one place and visit historical places all over the city.

Festivals range from Vikings roaming the streets to ice festivals, book and even food festivals. There is something for everyone. It’s like a fusion of old and new that will entice all who come.

So, keep calm, visit York, be a Viking for a day, and carry on.

See you there!

Lincoln

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User guide

Please download the PDF first before you continue. All of the vocabulary sheets and extra information is on there for you. Please see the link for this above.

Please study the vocabulary first as it will help with understanding the audio.

After, listen to the audio and let the journey of discovery begin.

 

Introduction

Lincoln is a city full to the brim of British history and is one of the finest historical cities in Britain dating back as far as 300BC.

The city is famous for its medieval cathedral which was the world's tallest building from 1311 to 1549. It pretty much has everything - from an ancient city centre, medieval castle, interesting museums and lovely quaint streets.

It was the Romans who first settled here and built a fort at the top of the hill in the 1st century, and later became known as Lindum Colonia. The Roman settlement and Roman roads can still be seen across the city today.

After the Romans left, Lincoln was then ruled by the Vikings, in the 9th and 10th centuries and the settlement became a small trading town. Links to the Vikings can be found today in street and place names such as: Bailgate, Danesgate, Wragby, and Skellingthorpe which are all Viking in origin.

Although the Romans, Vikings and Saxons have all had their influence on the city, it was the invasion of William the Conqueror and the Normans in 1066 that really put the city on the map.

Arriving in the city, William ordered the construction of Lincoln Castle and the awe-inspiring medieval Cathedral, which as mentioned above, was the tallest building in the world for hundreds of years.

These two buildings are full to the brim with history and legends and were built on the original Roman settlements.

One of Lincoln's greatest treasures is a copy of the 1215, Magna Carta, which is one of the four copies around today.

So, what is The Magna Carta?

On 15 June 1215, King John, the King of England, was made to sign and agree to the Magna Carta that would change history.

The Magna Carta had the idea that the king could only do things within the rule of law. To put it simply, the document explained what the king could and could not do.

The King made everyone very angry with the way he was treating people and doing anything he wanted. This is why he was made to sign the Magna Carta as he had to follow the law himself. He could no longer do as he wanted.

If the King broke the law, then he too could be punished. These laws affect us to this day!

Some changes to the document were made in 1217 and this became known as the ‘Charter of the forest.’ Lincoln Castle is now the only place in the world where an original 1215 Magna Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forest can be seen side by side.

Now you know a little bit about Lincoln’s great history, lets discover more about what you can see and do if you visit the stunning historical city.

Historical fact!

Lincoln is the city where the tank was born!

In 1916, during the First World War, the first ever tanks were designed and built in Lincoln, giving the city the nickname 'Tank Town.’

Now you know this one historical fact, if you take some time to walk around the city, you will also be able to discover some hidden gems. One of these is in Lincoln High Street.

Hidden Gem: St. Mary’s Guildhall

If you do decide to walk down Lincoln High Street, make sure you take a peek inside St Mary's Guildhall, built around 1157.

This 12th century St Mary's Guildhall in Lincoln High Street has a remarkable history.

Since it was built, the building has been used for royal wine storage, as a Guildhall, as a school, and even a shop. This unique building was also possibly owned by King Henry II.

There is almost 1000 years of history to discover and it will take you on a journey through time.

You can also stand in awe at the original Roman main road, the Roman Fosse Way, that ran through the city and onto Exeter.

However, please be careful if you do visit this historic place as it is believed to be haunted!

So, if you go there at night, be very, very careful!

Must see attractions: Steep Hill

Let’s move on to some must see attractions around the town and spend some time at Steep Hill where you can shop till you drop.

However, be prepared to put on your walking boots as the reason why they call it ‘Steep hill,’ is because the hill is very, very, very, very steep! Trust me, it’s steep!

Steep Hill is a steep, cobbled street which if you manage to get to the top, and some don’t, will take you to Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle. It is also close to the historic Cathedral Quarter which is full to the brim of historical buildings and boutiques.

It was also voted Britain’s Great Street in 2012 and named the fourth steepest street in England.

You can wander around the cobbled streets for an experience of culture, cuisine, and history that you will never forget.

There is an abundance of independent shops, a selection of places to eat and drink, quaint tea rooms, and luxurious hotels to rest your feet after a day of walking up and down this historic street.

You can also explore Bailgate, near the bottom of the street, which is the centre of the ancient Roman town.

So, if you love walking, exploring and soaking up some culture, put on your walking boots and get down to Steep Hill.

Must see attractions: Lincoln Cathedral

Now, if you do manage to get to the top of Steep Hill, you can enjoy Lincoln Cathedral.

With the Norman invasion of Britain in the 11th century, William the Conqueror gave the order in 1088 to build this stunning Cathedral.

During its time, some of it was rebuilt and changed. When the main spire was put in place in 1311, it became the tallest building in the world. This lasted until 1549 when the spire was destroyed in a storm.

The cathedral is full to the brim with stunning art and architecture that is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Lincoln.

There is something for everyone to see, and if you take along your children, try and find some of the funny carvings around the cathedral.

I suggest trying to find the famous Lincoln Imp!

Must see attractions: Lincoln Castle

If you do visit the cathedral, you are not too far from Lincoln Castle. Here, you can discover a place rich in history dating back to 1068 and, as mentioned above, is home to one of only four copies of Magna Carta - a document that shaped the way we live today.

Built by William the Conqueror in 1068 on a place once lived on during Roman times, Lincoln Castle has been a part of Lincoln for almost one thousand years.

Inside the Castle Walls, you can explore the historic prison which was built in 1788 which will give you an idea of what crime and punishment was like in Lincoln during Victorian times.

You can also wander around the castle and discover the stories of the people who have visited or even lived in the castle over its thousand-year history.

In addition, the Castle's Medieval wall walk is a unique experience. This is where you can walk the whole way around the castle’s walls which offer stunning views over Lincoln - including one of the best views of Lincoln Cathedral. The Medieval Walk is a journey through the history of Lincoln.

You can even follow in the footsteps of kings who walked these same walls hundreds of years ago. King Henry VIII (8th) himself visited the castle with Catherine Howard in 1541.

It’s full to the brim of history and will amaze all who come.

Must see attractions: Lincoln Roman Trail

If the castle has wet your appetite and left you wanting more, then the Lincoln Roman Trail is a must. You will have to put on your walking boots again but trust me, it’s a walking tour packed full of Roman history.

It was around AD50-60 when a Roman fort was built in Lincoln and the city became known as Lindum Colonia. The remains of Lindum Colonia can still be seen, and the Lincoln Roman Trail will take you to most of these historical gems.

The Romans built four gateways to go in and out of Lindum Colonia which were built of large stone. In addition, they also built large stone walls to protect the city.

Many of these walls and buildings can still be seen including the country's only remaining Roman arch, Newport Arch, which is the oldest arch in the UK, and is still used by traffic today.

It’s a trail of discovery through an ancient city that will entice all who come.

Festivals: Asylum Steampunk Festival

Now, all cities have their history and historical things to see and enjoy, but not all cities have festivals as fun as this one.

This one has to stand out as one of the craziest festivals of them all!

It’s weird, it’s wacky but always awesome!

The Asylum Steampunk Festival, which started in 2009, is the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the world, attracting more than 100,000 people from around the world.

Every year the costumes get more creative, and the events get crazier and crazier.

The event happens around August every year and happens in the historic quarter of Lincoln City, with thousands of crazily dressed fun people enjoying a festival which combines art, literature, music, fashion, comedy and simply having a jolly old time.

The idea comes from Science fiction in Victorian times and encourages people to dress up and be as creative as they can be.

It’s quirky, it’s fun, will allow you to let your hair down and be who you want to be. So, please check it out online for when the next one will be.

See the photos to discover the crazy fun you can have if you chose to experience this wonderful, wacky event.

Summary

Well guys, that’s it for the city of Lincoln. It’s a wonderful city with thousands of years of history to explore. It has historical buildings, great stories to discover, shopping for any avid shopper, and quaint tea rooms for anyone that loves a traditional brew.

So, what are you waiting for!

Take a trip to Lincoln, step back in time, and enjoy their fun, wacky, and quirky festivals.

See you there.

Conwy

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Introduction

To put it simply, this place is one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval towns.

It is a town rich in history, and in the heart of it is the stunning 13th-century Conwy castle. Its ancient walls surround a town full of historical buildings for you to sit back and enjoy.

The city was founded by the English king, Edward I (First) in 1283, and was built after his successful conquest of Wales.

The Castle was built by the English King to show his power and control over the Welsh people and was once one of strongest castles in Europe.

An architect called James of St George was asked to build Conwy castle and the town walls. It took just 4 years to build from 1283 to 1287 and around 15,000 men to build it.

It is also surrounded by the stunning Welsh countryside and the awe-inspiring mountains of Snowdonia, making it a perfect place to visit.

In addition, it is rare that there is so much to do in such a small town. You can discover much more than an ancient castle and ancient walls. You can enjoy stunning views, visit the smallest house in Britain, enjoy a romantic walk along the quaint harbour, and of course Conwy Mountain.

It is one of Britain’s finest medieval towns and is steeped in history.

So, lets discover more about this amazing place.

Hidden Gem: Quay house

First up is a hidden gem that will entice all who travel to the town.

This hidden gem is Quay house and is the smallest house in Britain. It is simply stunning!

This red painted house is only 10ft x 6ft and was last lived in by Robert Jones who was 6ft 3 inches tall!

How one of the tallest men around at the time can live in the smallest house in Britain has confused many. Even myself!

Go and see what it would be like to live in Britain’s smallest house. Well, that’s if you can fit through the front door!

I am not even sure if I can!

Remember, size does not matter. It is fun, quirky, and will interest all who come.

Places to visit: Aberconwy House

Now, Quay house is a fun and quirky place to go and visit however, if you are looking to soak up some history, then visiting Aberconwy House will satisfy your taste buds.

This is the only 14th Century Merchant's house in Conwy to have survived in the town over nearly six centuries, and is the oldest dated town house in Wales.

It was used by English merchants who traded with the local Welsh people who were not allowed to live inside the towns’ walls. At that time only the English were allowed to live inside the walls.

You can explore the house and follow the stories of the past from room to room and discover how the people of historic Conwy lived their lives in different times in its history.

The ambience is wonderful! With traditional furniture of the time and smells reminiscent of the past, this place creates a medieval atmosphere like no other.

However, it is believed to be haunted by the past owners!

So, please be careful if you visit this amazing place at night.

Places to visit: Plas Mawr

If the above has captivated your imagination, then visiting Britain’s finest town house of the Elizabethan age is a must as you can step back in time to see what life was like back when Elizabeth I (First) was queen of England.

This magnificent 16th century Plas Mawr, meaning great hall, stands in the heart of Conwy. You can discover how wealthy merchant Robert Wynn lived in this splendid Elizabethan house.

It was built in the golden age when rich merchants wanted to build their own town houses so they too could live a life of luxury and show off their wealth.

There are 17 stunning rooms to explore where you can learn about its history. And is now one of the top attractions in Conwy.

Places to visit: Conwy Castle and Walls

However, a visit to this ancient town will not be complete without exploring Conwy Castle and the walls.

This magnificent medieval castle has been around for 700 years and is one of the best medieval castles in Europe.

In addition, the walls go almost all the way around Conwy’s medieval town. They stretch for three quarters of a mile, with 21 towers and three original gateways along its length.

If you’ve got a head for heights, you can walk along the top of the wall and look down on Conwy’s historic medieval streets.

The castle and surrounding walls will take your breath away. Especially when you discover that King Edward I (First) and his architect Master James of St George built both castle and the walls in just four years between 1283 and 1287.

It’s an incredible feat! Not even todays builders could achieve this feat!

The castle is well-preserved and the views from the castle’s walls are simply stunning. I have to say, the walk up to the top of the walls won’t be easy but trust me, the views will be worth all the effort.

So, make sure you have a hearty meal before you go there to give you some energy, keep on walking up the stairs, and be prepared to soak up the spectacular views of the harbour and surrounding countryside.

Places to visit: Bodnant Garden

And last but not least, are the stunning Bodnant gardens. Founded in 1784 by Henry Davis Pochin, it offers a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the historic town centre and enjoy the tranquil surroundings of some of the best gardens in Britain.

You can stroll along the riverside gardens, wander in the woods and marvel at the stunning collection of plants from around the world.

It’s a haven of colour, lush greenery, wildlife and views that will simply take your breath away.

It’s a perfect place for a romantic walk and taking that perfect photo to take home and share the memories of this picturesque and awe-inspiring garden.

Festivals: The Conwy Food Festival

If you do visit all the gardens and historical places in Conwy, you will be feeling a bit peckish and in need of some delicious food to get your energy back.

So where should I go you may ask!

Well, don’t worry as the Conwy food festival is perfect for those that are in need of some delicious local grub, music to sit back and relax with, and local art to enjoy.

It is a cultural extravaganza!

The Conwy Food Festival has the tastiest food produced by locals across the whole of Wales. The food stalls are perfect to browse and fill your bags with local food.

This includes local award-winning cheeses, handmade pies, my favourite one which is fudge, as well as Italian products, French cheeses, and even Spanish sauces!

There is also entertainment at the food festival which includes wine tasting events and demonstrations from the best chefs around who will show all who come how to make amazing dishes.

It usually takes place around October but always check before you go as this may change.

So, come and enjoy this feast at one of Britain’s finest medieval towns.

Summary

To sum up, this historic town offers everything any avid traveller or history buff would ever wish for.

It’s rich in history, has some fun and quirky attractions, boasts stunning scenery and walks, and is simply one of best historic places to visit in the UK.

So, pack your bags and get ready to step back in time in the historic town of Conwy.

Caernarfon

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User guide

Please download the PDF first before you continue. All of the vocabulary sheets and extra information is on there for you. Please see the link for this above.

Please study the vocabulary first as it will help with understanding the audio.

After, listen to the audio and let the journey of discovery begin.

 

Introduction

Caernarfon is a town and port in Gwynedd, Wales, and is a town where you can indulge yourself in its rich history.

This ancient town is full to the brim of boutiques, quaint cafès, restaurants, and is surrounded by medieval stone walls.

This is a town that dates back to Roman times when the Roman fort, Segontium, was built. It was built around AD 80 to control the local tribes during the Roman conquest of Britain, and can still be seen today by all who visit.

They controlled the area until they left Britain in 382AD. After, it became part of the Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd and remained free up until 1283.

It was as this time the English King, Edward I (first), invaded Gwynedd and took control of the area.

To keep control of the area, Edward built the largest of his castles in Wales, Caernarfon castle. It was a castle built for kings!

In 1284, Caernarfon was also made a market town and represented the English government in north Wales.

Since then, the town has flourished, and is now a tourist hot spot.

This town is a historical gem, waiting to be explored and admired by all you come.

Hidden Gem: Dinas Dinlle

Speaking about historical gems, if you like to find hidden gems that not many people know about, then Dinas Dinlle is for you.

Just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Caernarfon, you will find the historic village of Dinas Dinlle.

Best known for its picture-perfect beach, it was an important settlement during the Iron Age dating back around 2,500 years. The remains of the settlement are next to the beach where you can enjoy breathtaking views.

They have even found Roman coins there so you might be lucky and find some for yourself.

I wish! If only dreams can come true.

With a number of shops and cafès, Dinas Dinlle is a lovely spot to relax for a few hours, put on your swim wear, and unwind in the sea while soaking up some sun.

After soaking up some sun, you can take the short drive back to the hustle and bustle of Caernarfon’s historic town centre.

Places to visit: Segontium

Now, it wasn’t just Edward I (First) who saw the importance of Caernarfon, as the Romans also realised that its location was perfect if you wanted to control the surrounding area.

Just outside the town centre of Caernarfon is the remains of Segontium Roman fort. The largest building of its kind excavated in Wales, the fort is believed to have had 1,000 Roman soldiers.

Dating from around 70AD, Segontium was also the administrative centre for north-west Wales.

Today, you can see this historic place and discover how the Romans once lived. If you are worried about how much it will be, don’t worry as it is free of charge. Fantastic!

Money that you can save for a rainy day.

There is also an interesting visitor centre and throughout the year there are several re-enactments that show you what life was really like back when the Romans controlled Britain.

They say all roads lead to Rome. Well, all roads lead to Caernarfon and the historic Roman fort of Segontium.

Oh, and if you find some Roman coins, please let me know because I would love some for myself.

Places to visit: Caernarfon Castle

It’s time to imagine that you are a powerful English king, and you want to show how powerful you are to the local Welsh people.

What do you do? You may ask.

If you are Edward I (First), then building Caernarfon Castle and the town walls in the 1280s, was the perfect thing to do.

It is the main attraction and the one that made this town into the one that it is today. A castle built for kings and one that has controlled the local area for centuries.

No expense was spared building it as he brought in one of the best architects around, Master James of St George and took around 5 years to complete the main parts of the castle.

However, it took a total of 47 years to be fully completed.

On 25th April 1284 Eleanor, King Edwards wife, gave birth to a son, Edward of Caernarfon, at Caernarfon. He was the very first prince of Wales and later became Kind Edward II.

For the last 700 years the title of Prince of Wales has traditionally been taken by the eldest son of the reigning monarch.

Most recently, it was at Caernarfon castle in 1969 that Prince Charles was given the title Prince of Wales.

Today, the Castle has an array of fun events throughout the year and is also recognised around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages.

Places to visit: The welsh highland Railway – Caernarfon to Porthmadog

All this history will entice any avid history buff but there is so much more to offer. However, sometimes you might want to just sit back, unwind, and take in the sites.

Well, I have the perfect day trip for you – The Welsh Highland Railway.

It is the UK's longest heritage railway and runs for 25 miles from Caernarfon, where the train starts its journey next to the historic castle walls, for the journey to Porthmadog.

So, you can spend the morning enjoying the castle, then hop on this stunning steam train.

This heritage railway takes you through 25 miles of picturesque views of Snowdonia’s mountains, and through the Aberglaslyn pass, voted the most beautiful place in the UK. The views will simply take your breath away.

The train is also one of the world's most powerful steam locomotives, and you can ride in some of the most comfortable carriages on any heritage railway in the UK, including first class where you can enjoy freshly-cooked local food delivered to your seat.

What more can you ask for!

Taking a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway, must be one of the most spectacular ways to see the awe-inspiring scenery of the Snowdonia National Park.

So, book your tickets, hop on, and be prepared for a journey of a lifetime.

Festivals: Caernarfon Food Festival

After all this site seeing and soaking up all the history, it is time to eat and sample some local grub. And the best place to do this is at the Caernarfon Food Festival.

The Caernarfon Food Festival is perfect for foodies to explore the food and drink produced from the local area. With lots of market stalls packed full of food and drink, live cooking shows, freshly cooked street food, and fun activities for the whole family, it is a perfect day out.

Browse the market stalls and see a wide range of products including local cheese, my favourite, locally made beer, and even chocolate.

The festival gives visitors a chance to explore the historic sites as well as enjoy the local food.

In addition, there will also be lots of great live entertainment. Throughout the day there will be live music from local bands, singers, and artists, helping to add a fun and vibrant atmosphere to the festival.

Furthermore, other live entertainment will also fill the streets, such as kids’ games, traditional dancing and even face-painting.

This will be a memorable fun day out for all who come.

Summary

Well, you have seen the sites and enjoyed the food, but now it is time to leave this wonderful place.

It’s a place full to the brim of historical sites dating back to the Romans and even before that. You can relax on the beach, walk the walls of Caernarfon castle, stand in awe at the spectacular views, and of course, sit back and relax on one of the best heritage railways in the UK.

This is a place for everyone to come, enjoy, and will certainly give you memories that will last a lifetime.

See you there!