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Top 10 places of historic interest to explore in Weston-super-Mare and Somerset

PUBLISHED: 12:56 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:56 20 March 2017

The old church of St Nicholas, Birnbeck Pier and Cheddar Gorge are among our top 10 sites of historic interest.

The old church of St Nicholas, Birnbeck Pier and Cheddar Gorge are among our top 10 sites of historic interest.

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Somerset is packed with historical sites, which tell the history of the county right back from the earliest humans to modern conflicts in World War One and Two. Here is our list of some of the top sites for history-lovers to enjoy in Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding area.

Worlebury iron age hill fort. Worlebury iron age hill fort.

IRON AGE FORT.

The ancient monument in Weston Woods was once used as a form of defence against attackers. Now it is one of the most outstanding examples of Iron Age forts in the country, and can be reached by a walk through the woods – a perfect way to get some shade on a hot summer’s day.

St Nicholas Church (Picture: David Winship). St Nicholas Church (Picture: David Winship).

OLD CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS.

A church may have been based on the hill in Uphill for more than 1,000 years, but the one there now dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. Rumour has it Jesus may have arrived in Uphill and walked on the hill while he was a teenager. Whether it is true or not, the hill hosts some spectacular views from one of the highest points near Weston.

The Old Town Quarry. The Old Town Quarry.

OLD TOWN QUARRY.

Many of the Victorian homes in Weston were built from the rocks in the quarry, which is now a nature reserve in South Road. Birds of prey can be spotted on the 350-million-year-old cliff face, while a working forge keeps links with the town’s industrial past alive.

Woodspring Priory (Picture: Andrew Falconbridge) Woodspring Priory (Picture: Andrew Falconbridge)

WOODSPRING PRIORY.

This serene site was first founded in 1210, and is now used as a holiday home. But the museum there is full of ancient artefacts telling the history of the building which was subject to a huge restoration from 1969-1992. It is open most Mondays and Fridays, except bank holidays, between 10.30am and 3.30pm.

Brean Down Fort (©National Trust) Brean Down Fort (©National Trust)

BREAN DOWN FORT.

Numerous historical discoveries have been made in Brean Down, including a Roman temple and Iron Age hill fort. The Victorian fort was built to prevent Napoleon’s invasion, and later stop Kaiser Bill and Hitler.

Birnbeck Pier Birnbeck Pier

BIRNBECK PIER AND PRINCE CONSORT GARDENS.

The pier may not be in use anymore, but is based in a peaceful part of Weston’s seafront. It played a role in the development of the Bouncing Bomb during World War Two, and the well-maintained Prince Consort Gardens is a wonderful spot to imagine the steamer ships carrying visitors to and from Wales.

Flat Holm (Picture: Mike Jerrett). Flat Holm (Picture: Mike Jerrett).

FLAT HOLM ISLAND.

Take a boat over to Flat Holm, where you can learn about its varied and colourful past. As well as being a place of refuge for Danish invaders in 918, it was included as a coastal defence system in 1860 and protected the mainland from a cholera epidemic in 1883. More than 350 soldiers were based there in World War Two.

Cheddar Gorge Cheddar Gorge

CHEDDAR GORGE AND CAVES.

Archaeologists and palaeontologists have been flocking to the caves for hundreds of years, because of its rich pre-historic discoveries. As well as enjoying its spectacular views, visitors can learn how our ancestors lived through the Ice Age.

King John's Hunting Lodge. King John's Hunting Lodge.

KING JOHN’S HUNTING LODGE.

Set in the medieval square in Axbridge, the building, created in around 1500, is now the home of the town’s museum. Important collections of prehistoric bones and the Romans are on display.

Magic sunlight over the beach (Picture: Tatiana Thrush). Magic sunlight over the beach (Picture: Tatiana Thrush).

BERROW SHIP WRECK.

When the tide goes out, the remains of a ship stick out of the sand. This is the SS Nornen, which tried to ride out a savage gale but was driven towards the mud flats in 1897. The site makes for an unusual photograph to send to friends and family.

Do you have somewhere else you would recommend? Let us know by tweeting @WSMERCURY or comment on our Facebook page.

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