6 Of The UK’s Most Magical Ruins 

1: Hadrian’s Wall
Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will recognise The Wall, a fortification of ice 700ft tall that stretches for 300 miles along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms to keep the wildlings out. That wall is real – only a little smaller. Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD right across northern England to keep out the Scottish Picts, and a surprising amount of the structure still stands today, even if much of it is hip-height. There are great walks to be had along it, such as the Birdoswald Trail, Housesteads Trail, Chesters Trail and Corbridge Trail, with a fort and settlement at Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead.

Tintangel Castle2: Tintagel Castle 

The greatest of all British myths is that of Arthur, the young boy who drew the sword from the stone to become the Once and Future King. With Merlin the magician by his side and a round table of trusty knights, he united England. The location of Camelot may be shrouded in mystery, but Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is linked in history as the place of Arthur’s conception. Ruined it may be, but the cliff-top walks are spectacular. Explore Merlin’s Cave – and when the tide is out, look out for the carving of Merlin’s face at its mouth. 

3: Castlerigg
Stonehenge is the most famous of the 1,300 stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany that survive from the prehistoric era, but Castlerigg in the Lake District is arguably the most dramatic and atmospheric – there are less visitors here so you will have a more personal experience. Thirty three stones still stand, the largest being 2m tall and weighing 15 tons. From the centre of Castlerigg you can gaze out on a ring of some of the highest peaks in Cumbria, and rekindle within yourself some of the awe, respect and devotion the early pagans felt towards nature. 

4: Glastonbury Abbey 

Glastonbury is another site associated with King Arthur, as well as home to Britain’s biggest music festival which began in 1970 as a small gathering of just 1,500 hippies and neo-pagans. It was long supposed to be a burial place for Arthur and his queen Guinevere, and thus a place of pilgrimage for New Age enthusiasts. But an exhaustive study by the University of Reading last year demonstrated that this story was a publicity stunt invented by 12th-century monks to raise funds after Glastonbury Abbey was destroyed by fire. No matter – standing within the surviving walls and arches of the abbey, you are still transported back to a time of legends. 

Fountains Abbey5: Fountains Abbey 

Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire is so large, impressive and well preserved – apart from its lack of a roof – that you almost hesitate to call it a ruin. Founded in 1132, but abandoned during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII, it has recently found a new lease 
of life as a popular location for TV dramas and films, including The History Boys and The Secret Garden. The abbey is situated within the 800-acre Studley Royal Park, an 18th-century landscaped garden that includes a Jacobean mansion, Victorian church, deer park, extraordinary water gardens and a new children’s play area. 

6: Crawick Multiverse
To the list of famous Megalithic standing stones, such as Castlerigg, Stonehenge and Avebury, you can now add Crawick Multiverse. Not heard of it? That’s because this ‘prehistoric’ ruin was built just last year. An open-cast mine in Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland has been transformed by renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks into nine ‘landforms’ across 55 acres, drawing inspiration from space, astronomy and cosmology. At the top you have a 20-mile, 360-degree panoramic view. Like the crop circles that mysteriously appear in British fields every summer, it’s a modern creation that recalls the mysteries of the ancients. It makes for a delightfully eccentric day out. 

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