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Top heritage things to do in the Cotswolds

Castles, museums and historic gardens – the Cotswolds is full of rich British heritage, ready for you to discover.



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A good place to start your explorations of the region is the Cotswolds Discovery Centre. Located in the Old Prison in Northleach, here you can learn all about the history of the Cotswolds’ landscape and people.

This is a region steeped in English history. 'Cotswolds' is likely to be a combination of 2 old English words: 'Cots' are sheep enclosures and 'Wolds' are gentle hills. The Cotswolds hills are criss-crossed with dry stonewalls that would have been made to protect herds of sheep, and the region’s market towns and villages are made of the famous Cotswold stone. You can see examples of this is places such as Bourton-on-the-water, Lower Slaughter and Kingham.




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Designed in the 1740s as a flamboyant pleasure garden for entertaining guests, Painswick Rococo Gardens is the UK’s sole surviving complete rococo garden. Boasting fanciful follies and beautifully framed vistas of the Cotswolds countryside, this garden gives a unique insight into 18th century leisure time in Britain.



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Enjoy regal dreams in the widest four-poster bed in England or spend the night where King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn slept 500 years ago, at the majestic Thornbury Castle, which sits at the edge of the beautiful Cotswold countryside. 



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For more history, try the American Museum. Housed in the beautiful Calverton Manor, the only museum of American decorative and folk art outside the US takes you on a journey from the first settlers through to present day.



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From American to ancient history, Belas Knap is one of the finest examples of a long barrow – a sort of underground burial chamber dating from Neolithic times. When it was excavated in 1863 and 1865, the remains of 31 people were found. Explore if you’re brave enough!



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Why not also visit one of the fine reminders of Britain’s Roman past at Chedworth Roman Villa. It’s one of the grandest remaining in the country, with wonderful mosaics, and is beautifully located in a Cotswolds valley.

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