Q: What is your favourite historical place in Britain?


A: That would be Dover Castle. A few years ago, English Heritage revamped the Great Tower, which was formerly just an empty space that you could walk around in a few minutes.

It has now been dressed up like a 12th-century royal residence. Rather than presenting it as a museum, they have made it interactive – you can even sit on the throne!

I live just a few miles away, and take my two young children to visit regularly.

Q: What is your favourite historical place overseas?

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A: There are a number of planned towns in the Dordogne, built in the 13th century, called bastides. My favourite is Monpazier.

The towns are laid out on a rigid grid-iron, with a market place in the centre and first, second and third streets around it.

I like the bastides because they take you back to the 13th century, but also because they contradict the idea that the medieval period is associated with mess and muddle.

The Dordogne is also appealing for its wine and weather, of course!

Q: Where would you most like to visit?

A: I would love to visit Normandy properly.

I wrote a book on the Norman Conquest, but at the time my children were babies, so I was unable to spend a great deal of time in the area.


I have never seen the Bayeux Tapestry in real life, and I would very much like to visit the abbeys and cathedrals in Normandy. I would especially like to explore Rouen.