Walking & Archaeology in the Cotswolds
Fabulous walks, a fascinating mixture of historic sites and wonderful scenery
With its gentle, rolling hills criss-crossed with dry stone walls, hidden river valleys and water meadows dotted with honey-coloured houses, the Cotswolds have been characterised as quintessential rural England. Long before it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, however, this land was just as important to early settlers, and it is rich in remains from Neolithic burial sites to Iron Age forts, Roman villas and Saxon settlements. We explore some of the highlights of this beautiful region.
Your Departure date
Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £225
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Whether you want to add extra nights on either side of your tour, you want to upgrade your flight or hotel room, or you are hoping to enjoy a door-to-door airport transfer, we can help.
Day 1 - Chipping Campden
We meet at our hotel in time for an evening lecture followed by dinner with our Guide Lecturer and fellow guests.
Day 2 - Rollright Stones & Hidcote Manor Gardens
This morning we walk along a section of Shakespeare’s Way from the lively little market town of Chipping Norton to the Rollright Stones which sit atop a limestone ridge around 3 miles north of the town alongside an ancient ridgeway. These enigmatic prehistoric monuments consist of the 'King's Men', a stone circle; the 'King Stone', a solitary weathered monolith and the 'Whispering Knights', a late Neolithic portal dolmen, dated between 3800 and 3000 BCE. These structures, taken together, suggest that the area may have acted as a focus for ritual in in a similar way to the more famous landscape around Stonehenge and Avebury. The Rollright monuments have attracted a wealth of folklore over the centuries involving witches, fairies and invading armies. The earliest is first mentioned in Camden's Britannia, written in Latin, in 1586, "the common people usually call them Rolle-rick stones, and dreameth that they were sometimes men by a wonderful Metamorphosis turned into hard stones."
After our morning’s walk we drive to Hidcote Manor. Originally owned by Bradenstoke Priory before it fell victim to Henry VIII’s reformation, Hidcote remained a working farmhouse for centuries until it was transformed by Lawrence Johnson, a self-taught American horticulturist who created his ‘garden of rooms’ in the Arts and Crafts style. It’s a beautiful garden to wander in, with new vistas opening up constantly as you move from one outdoor ‘room’ to another through high arched yew hedges and along winding paths.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 3 - Cleeve Hill & Winchcombe
We start at Cleeve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold escarpment. On a clear day, the views from here extend over the Severn Valley towards the Malvern Hills and the Forest of Dean to the west, with the Welsh hills beyond. The largest area of Common land in Gloucestershire, the boundaries of Cleeve Common have survived largely intact for 1000 years and evidence of human activity can be traced back some 6000 years. Flint scatters have been found here and there are also traces of Bronze Age occupation. From here we walk to Belas Knapp, a chambered long barrow dating from around 3800BC. It is an outstanding example of a Neolithic long barrow and known as one of the Cotswold-Severn cairns. These structures have a unifying trait in their strict adherence to a trapezoidal mound plan and use of high-quality dry-stone walling. Thirty-one skeletons were discovered in the tomb, and these and other artefacts can be seen in the village folk museum in Winchcombe.
We continue our walk down the hill and into the small town of Winchcombe, once favoured as the royal seat of the Kings of Mercia and later a major pilgrimage centre. We pass St. Peter’s Church, guarded by forty of the country's finest grotesque gargoyles (one of which reputed to be Lewis Caroll’s inspiration for The Mad Hatter) before stopping for lunch. In the afternoon we visit Sudeley Castle which has hosted some of England’s most celebrated monarchs from Richard III to King Charles I who made it his temporary base during the English Civil War. It is here where Katherine Parr, Henry’s VIII last wife ended her days, and she is buried here.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 4 - Chedworth | Cirencester
On our final day we travel south to explore the wonderful Romano-Britain villa at Chedworth, tucked away in a deeply wooded valley in the Cotswolds. Originating in the early 2nd century, the villa was expanded in the 4th century and its large size, as well as the quality of its features which include a hypocaust and fine marble mosaics, lead archaeologists to believe it belonged a wealthy high-status family. Excavations have revealed two bath houses, almost a mile of intact Roman wall and a latrine in working order. The mosaics are still in situ and are of exceptional quality. In 2020 a new section of mosaics was uncovered which radiocarbon dating has since identified as 5th century – an exceptional discovery and the first known of this age found in Britain.
We continue to Cirencester (Corinium Dobunnorum) the second largest town in Britain and a major stop on the Fosse Way between Exeter and Lincoln. Here we visit the award-winning Corinium Museum which exhibits significant finds from the area. We end the day around 4pm, either returning to Chipping Campden for onward travel or departing from Cirencester.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Lunch|
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- Field notes
- All taxes & gratuities
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|13 June 2022||ACOT220613||13 June 2022 (Monday)||16 June 2022 (Thursday)||Mark Corney||£1,415
|£500||£225||Book your trip|
|29 May 2023||ACOT230529||29 May 2023 (Monday)||1 June 2023 (Thursday)||Mark Corney||£1,445
|Book your trip|
|3 July 2023||ACOT230703||3 July 2023 (Monday)||6 July 2023 (Thursday)||Mark Corney||£1,495
|Book your trip|