Step Back in Time
You don’t need a time machine to travel through time. You can get hands on with history at heaps of local attractions where the past comes to life before you eyes.
243 million – 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs and the Ice Age: You can walk among ‘dinosaurs’, see them move and hear them roar at West Midland Safari Park’s walk-through Land of the Living Dinosaurs, the UK’s largest animatronic dinosaur attraction. Look out for T-Rex, stegosaurus, velociraptor and triceratops and dig for dinosaur bones like a palaeontologist using a trowel and brushes in the Dino Dig. You can then go forward in time on a prehistoric journey of life on earth after the dinosaurs became extinct in the Ice Age walk through, wandering through a rumbling volcano and see woolly mammoths.
43-410. Romans: Visit Wall Roman site near Lichfield where you can still see the remains of an inn for travellers and the public baths. Check out Lunt Roman Fort in Coventry where you can stand on the ramparts, explore the exhibition and imagine yourself training horses in the gyrus. Visit the ruins of Wroxeter Roman City, near Shrewsbury, and discover urban-living 2,000 years ago. See the remains of the latrines (the loos) where Romans wipes their bums on reusable sponges on sticks! There’s an audio tour so you can hear he sounds of the city and find out more about the people who lived there and see the objects they left behind on display in the museum, there’s also a reconstructed town house you can go inside.
410-1066. Anglo-Saxons: Discover the story of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, which was discovered in a field in Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in 2009. It is now on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (free entry). Children can get to grips with microscopes and see some of the unusual tools that a conservator uses while working with these precious objects. Through traditional games, dressing up and storytelling, young visitors will get a true feel of what it was like to live at this time.
1066-1204. Normans: You don’t have to imagine what life was like in a castle – you can visit one yourself. Climb the spiral staircase to the top of the keep at Dudley Castle and see the views the soldiers who defended it would have had from the top. Walk the walls at Warwick Castle - you can even sleep over in the 14th century tower or go glamping in medieval tents in the grounds. At Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, listen to an audio tour as you explore the impressive ruins then when you are back home follow a link on its website for details how to build a reconstruction in Minecraft.
1485-1603. The Tudors: You can visit Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park in Leicestershire and see where the armies of the first Tudor King Henry VII defeated Richard III to win the English throne in 1485. Join a family friendly 2km guided walk around the battlefield that takes place most weekends. If you are a fan of Horrible Histories you can see the Terrible Tudors in their live action show which features amazing 3D special effects at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre from 23-26 October.
1603-1714. The Stuarts: The 17th century is a time when the country took sides and it resulted in the beheading of King Charles I. In Birmingham you can uncover Aston Hall’s role in the English Civil War and examine the damage caused by cannon fire to the staircase and walls. Follow in the footsteps of a king by visiting Boscobel House in Shropshire where guides will tell you how the future Charles II, hid in an oak tree in the grounds. At Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton you can see the place where he hid under the floor boards as he successfully made his escape from Cromwell’s army after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Set in the heart of historic Worcester, The Commandery is most famous for being the Royalist Headquarters during the deciding battle of the English Civil War – the Battle of Worcester 1651. Discover Worcester’s Civil War Story, an interactive experience that will take you back over 350 years into a murky, conflicted 17th century Worcester of fiery debates. Experience life as a soldier 300 miles from home, test your skills at battle strategy and come face-to-face with Oliver Cromwell.
1837-1901. Victorians: Get hands on with history at Blists Hill Victorian Town. Go inside Victorian houses and buildings, sit down for a lesson in the Victorian School House, ride the fairground or enjoy a horse and cart ride around the town. Be sure to pop into the bank on your arrival where children can change their cash into ‘old money’ which can be used to purchase items in the shops.
1914-18 and 1939-1945. World Wars: At RAF Museum Cosford, near Wolverhampton (free admission) you can see the actual planes that fought in the First and Second World Wars, including the famous Spitfire credited with helping to win the Battle of Britain, and find out more about the pilots that flew them. Put on virtual reality googles and experience what it was like to be in a Spitfire’s cockpit 10,000 feet in the air on 6 minute flight. Or head into the Fun 'n' Flight interactive gallery and get involved in experiments designed to help visitors learn how aircraft fly.