England is teeming with archaeological sites, national treasures and areas of outstanding natural beauty, and what they have in common goes far beyond their ripe age.
Bizarre sightings, like UFOs, strange lights in the sky, beasts of unknown origin and wild animals that aren’t very British aren’t as unpopular in these spots as rationale would have you think. So we did a little digging, and here you have it, 10 historic sites in England where plenty of odd things happen regularly - and which you can visit.
10 Avebury, Wiltshire
Avebury, Stonehenge’s lesser-known cousin, is a world heritage site, home to one of the greatest marvels of prehistoric Britain. Avebury henge and the stones that encircle it date back to the Neolithic period, used as a ceremonial site where religious rituals took place, replaced in later centuries by sacrificial, pagan and devil worship (and hippies drumming on tambourines). Now though, Avebury itself is a hotspot for UFO and alien sightings - though the hidden military base a few miles away may have something to do with the strange lights often seen in the night sky, along with advanced-looking drones cruising the area.
In 2009, a Wiltshire police constable reported seeing three figures investigating a crop circle that appeared near Silbury Hill. When he got closer, the trio of ‘men’, identical in their 6 ft tall stature and blonde hair, ran away faster than he had ever seen any human move. Why tear off into the middle of nowhere, with no means of transport and nothing but a barrage of fields for entertainment?
9 Cley Hill, Warminster
A spate of mysterious UFO sightings over Cley Hill have been reported over the past 70 years or so, with regular news stories still popping up in local tabloids. Citizens around the area have claimed to witness strange flashing orbs, metallic objects and spheres appear in the sky, with multiple eye witness accounts of the same occurrence, as well as video camera footage supporting their claims.
Cley Hill boasts of an iron age hill fort, two bowl barrows (tombs) and medieval strip lynchets. Could it be that our extraterrestrial pals get a kick out of ye olde cemeteries? That or they just dig the view.
8 The Ridgeway Walk
Want to walk the oldest road in Britain, except that it’s not really a road because it’s a mossy track that cuts through ancient landscapes, secluded valleys and woodland? Course you do. It’s 5,000 years old and connects Avebury to London - picture the Kingsroad in GOT - without so much propensity for murder. While tons of hikers who go wild camping in this area have seen strange orbs in the sky, and there’s a forest that’s ‘haunted’ by witches, the strangest story is that of a man who was out walking one foggy November’s afternoon.
He came across an old-school policeman decked out in a turn of the century uniform. As they walked past one another, the bobby tipped his hat and bid him good day. Just remember this was the middle of nowhere, and generally speaking there aren’t that many 18th century coppers wondering round fields for the hell of it.
7 Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean
This enchanting forest is said to be inspiration for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, as well as Harry Potter and Star Wars, the Force Awakens.
But mystery is afoot in this moss-covered woodland; while many walkers claim to see small, unidentifiable beasts running around, (and we don’t think they mean Ewoks), in 1848 3,000 Roman-era coins were found, stored in jars in the cavity of rock formations. To this day, their origin remains unknown. Well, it is in the name, right?
6 Wiltshire, Hampshire
Ever since the 60s, the entire county of Wiltshire has been subject to one of the world’s greatest mysteries: crop circles. Every summer, without fail, hundreds upon hundreds of crop circles appear across a wide range of Wiltshire’s private farms in the open countryside, baffling farmers, locals and authorities alike. All sorts of shapes, patterns and even familiar symbols are flattened into the wheat - linked to mathematics, astronomy (representations of galaxies), pictographs and some even contain coded messages.
Rural graffiti, maybe, but made by who? Some are of course caused by hoaxers with wooden planks and an affinity for large-scale art, but others are less explicable. In Wiltshire, many people have said to view strange-colored orbs hovering over the fields where crop circles are made, reported power failure in the shape of cars, phones and even helicopters flying over the fields where crop circles are found.
5 Stonehenge, Wiltshire
One of England’s most famous prehistoric monuments, crop circles appear all the time near Stonehenge. In 1996, one of the world’s most famous and complex crop circles was discovered. Embedded in the flattened wheat, was a fractal pattern called a Julia Set. It appeared in broad daylight, right next to a busy road within a 15 minute time window. When experts who had practiced recreating these crop circles to prove they were made by humans, were questioned, they admitted it would take a whole team no less than 2 days to complete.
In 2001, an oblong shape was discovered in a field near Stonehenge. This was a replica of the binary code first beamed into Space in 1974 for ‘visitors’ to understand human life, except it had been modified. The message indicated that its creators were silicon-based, smaller than us and they inhabited a binary star system.
4 Bonnybridge, Scotland
This small Scottish town is home to at least 350 sightings of unidentified flying objects every year. Inhabitants claim they’ve seen mysterious lights appear in the sky, ships landing and strange howling noises at night.
The town’s councilor, Billy Buchanan, even appealed to three different prime ministers (David Cameron, Tony Blair and John Major) to order an investigation after so many of his residents came to him in cold-blooded panic. The Ministry of Defence’s only response was that the UK’s airspace wasn’t compromised by ‘hostile’ activity.
3 Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
Cannock Chase is definitely a hotbed, if not for UFOs, for some truly bizarre sightings over the previous few years. A long-range of woodland fringed by pines, it’s undoubtedly an area of outstanding beauty - portrayed in Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
But just how many elements of fiction are actually real? Tales of UFOs, big cats, werewolves and mysterious black-eyed children abound - though the wolf-like creature lurking near the town’s church is a popular one. A high number of pet disappearances have been reported - and many animal mutilations have taken place - with no explanation as of yet.
2 Loch Ness Lake, Scotland
Since 1933, a mass craze surrounding the Loch Ness Monster has blossomed, based on sightings, photographic claims and evidence stating that the lake itself is deep enough to conceal a creature of considerable size for centuries. Affectionately known as ‘Nessie’, this mythical creature supposedly inhabits Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.
Reports of sightings make headlines every year, the most recent of which took place in August, 2019, when a dark figure was spotted swimming the loch in a straight line, before disappearing for good behind a tree.
1 The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Cornwall isn’t just known for its sandy beaches, plentiful caves, and sea-shore trips. It’s also where a number of mysterious animal sightings take place. Of course, there’s nothing really weird about seeing wildlife in the countryside - but when it’s panthers, wallabies, rare green herons and penguins - all of which are decidedly ‘un-English’, the stories get a little weird.
Most of these sightings take place near the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a beautiful but mysterious botanical garden neglected after the second world war, and restored to splendor after it was re-discovered 25 years ago.