If you’re into unearthing yesteryear, you’ll know that today marks a particularly special event in English history. That’s because today -14th October- is the 947th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, an event which changed the face of Britain forever. Forces from both sides of the English channel gathered on a windswept heath near the town of Battle in Sussex, to engage in what would arguably become the most fateful act of war that the country has ever known. Given the influence that the battle had on modern British culture, we at Sykes Cottages thought we’d pay homage to this bloody day of transformation, by compiling a short list of the best battlefields to visit across the UK. There’s something rather moving and affecting about visiting a by-gone battlefield, so why not spend the day on your next cottage holiday taking a peek into the country’s bloody past whilst you explore these beautiful portions of prized British soil.
Stirling, Scotland- Battle of Stirling Bridge, 1297
Made famous in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film, Braveheart, the Battle of Stirling Bridge was a decisive victory for the Scots in their century-long feud with the English over their independence. Walk the earth where thousands of impassioned highland clansman followed their plucky blue-faced leader, William Wallace, into battle against a far superior force, and laid down their lives to secure the freedom of their country. Present day Stirling Bridge offers a feast of historic treats that will delight even the most aloof history fan, including Old Stirling Bridge, built in 1550, and the Wallace Memorial statue, erected at the spot where this proud Scot defied the odds to defend his great country. If you fancy donning your Sporran and bellowing “FREEDOMMM!” on your next Scottish adventure, take a look at our selection of holiday cottages in Scotland!
Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire- Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485
On August 22nd 1485, the Wars of the Roses, fought between the house of York and the house of Lancaster over a thirty year period, came to its sticky and long awaited conclusion. Abandoned by his countryman and with a much lesser force, Richard III of England was brutally killed at the hands of the usurper Henry Tudor, and a new era of English history began. Discover information and theories about the battle in the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, and terrify the kids on a journey through medieval England in the centre’s interactive exhibition, where you can witness the horrors of 15th century warfare in the imposing battle room! For both the fanatical history fan and the casual daytripper, a visit to Bosworth Field proves a memorable day out; see for yourself on your next cottage holiday.
Branxton, Northumberland- Battle of Flodden, 1513
Perhaps the most archetypal battlefield on the British Isles, this illustrious patch of Northumberland played host to the largest Anglo-Scottish tussle of the Middle Ages, with over 26,000 English and 34,000 Scottish troops involved in the fray. The battle ensued when James IV of Scotland, rather unwisely, invaded the North East of England to honour the country’s ancient allegiance to France, which was under threat from the surly Henry VIII. However, unlike Scots before him, James IV was unable to quash the English, and ultimately became the last serving monarch to be slain on British soil. Take time out of your Northumberland cottage holiday to visit this peaceful pasture land, and visualise the events of the battle as they unfolded with help from the interpretative boards which are placed along the battlefield trail.
Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.