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The Cotswolds region has a rich historical heritage dating back to the times when Britain was part of the Roman Empire. It was the birthplace of the world's most famous poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, and was home to such notable figures as Beatrix Potter (Tailor of Gloucester, Peter Rabbit) and Jane Austen. Today this heritage has left its mark in the many museums and attractions available to visitors in the Cotswolds. For its size, the Cotswolds has more museums and historical sites than almost any place else in the country and Gloucester alone hosts the UK's third largest Heritage event.
One of the most notable and most visited attractions in the Cotswold's is the 1,300-year old Gloucester Cathedral, built by the Normans, it still holds daily services which everyone is welcome to attend. It is the burial place of King Edward II, where a nine-year olf Henry III was crowned and was used as a filming for the Harry Potter movies.
The historic city of Gloucester, not only the county town of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, but is also an exciting destination for events such as the award winning Gloucester Tall Ships Festival held in Gloucester Docks, the best preserved inland Victorian port in the world. Gloucester the sporting centre for the Cotswolds, the proud host city for the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and famous for it's traditional and quirky traditions including the annual Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill.
Gloucester has over 2,000 years of history, much of which is preserved, from the the Romans, the Saxons, the Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors and Victorians. Gloucester's heritage is showcased all year round at Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery, Gloucester Folk Museum, Gloucester Waterways Museum and the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum; as well as during the annual Gloucester History Festival (September) and the third largest Heritage Open Days event in the country.
If you want to see where the aforementioned Edward II was murdered (reportedly with a red hot poker) visit Berkeley Castle which was built to protect the Bristol -Gloucester road and keep out the Welsh: it dates from 1153. The cell where Edward was held and dungeon are still there to see in the ancient shell keep. The Berkeley Family have lived in Berkeley since 1117 and are one of only three families in England that can trace their lineage to Saxon times through the male heirs. Also to be seen is the 14th Century Great Hall, Tudor wall hangings, tapestries and the 35ft breach in the Keep made by Cromwell during the siege of 1645. The Castle has remained a Norman Marcher castle in shape but been changed over the centuries into a comfortable home.
The Cotswolds town of Bath was founded by the ancient Romans, and beneath its streets is located what is considered to be the most well preserved Roman baths of the ancient world. The site, constructed around a natural hot spring, is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, and has been transformed into a museum where visitors can come and see just how the Romans may have lived. The museum is open every day and gives guided tours. For directions and more information see the Roman Baths Museum website
For listing of other museums and attraction in the Cotswolds, click here.