History and heritage

Castle and tower house of Dunbeath on a Scottish Highland peninsula

Ancient monuments, crumbling castles, quaint villages – studying in the UK is a chance to indulge your love of history.

There’s a huge variety of places to visit, and many are free of charge or offer student discounts. Here are some of our favourite ways to step back in time.

The birth of industry

The Industrial Revolution started in the UK. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the UK was famous for its iron foundries and cotton mills, and many important industrial sites can still be seen today. The Iron Bridge Gorge Museum, Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron all give a fantastic impression of what life was like at that time.

Other popular industrial attractions include the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, and the Science Museum in London.

Writers’ trails

Writers from the UK have entertained readers for hundreds of years. The homes of many of our greatest writers still survive, welcoming huge numbers of visitors each year.

You can visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare in Stratford-on-Avon and see a performance of one of his plays at the newly refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre. In London, learn about Shakespeare at The Globe theatre.

The home of the Scottish poet Robert Burns in Dumfries and English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s cottage in Somerset are also open to view, as are a number of buildings in Belfast associated with CS Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Locations that have inspired or featured in English literary works are popular destinations. The scenic Lake District encouraged Beatrix Potter to write her charming children’s books, while the wild and rugged landscape of Yorkshire will forever be associated with the Brontë sisters.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans can take a magical Potter tour of Edinburgh’s old town, or visit the Warner Bros. Studio near London for the new The Making of Harry Potter tour.

Castles and stately homes

With fairytale buildings and stunning landscapes, the UK is a place of myth and legend. There are castles, historical buildings and stately homes across the UK, most of which are open to visitors.

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is an idyllic historical building that has been used to store and display art for five centuries. You can wander along the painted hall, explore the beautiful grounds or simply admire the art collections.

Caernarfon Castle on the North Wales coast is a World Heritage site and is only 13 miles from dramatic Beaumaris Castle, over on the island of Anglesey.

For fans of the monarchy, beautiful Sandringham House in Norfolk – the country retreat of the Queen – has been a royal residence since 1862.

Enniskillen Castle stands beside Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. In the 18th century it was used as a barracks and today it houses the regimental Inniskillings Museum and Fermanagh County museum.

In Scotland, visit Edinburgh Castle, or head to Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness for breathtaking views.

Set in stone

Spanning thousands of years, the UK's heritage ranges from the Stone Age until the present day. You can chart this history by visiting some of the UK's ancient and best-preserved sites, such as the Roman Lullingstone Villa in Kent.

Meanwhile, up north in Scotland, you can visit Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill.

Fast-forward thousands of years and Belfast's Wall Murals depict the city's conflicts through colourful and poignant wall displays.

Find out more

To find out more, go to the Visit Britain or Discover Northern Ireland websites, or join Love GREAT Britain on Facebook.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland ©VisitBritain / Britain on View