10 places where history was made

One hundred years ago an act of parliament was passed, designed to save Britain's historic sites. Chief Executive of English Heritage, Simon Thurley, tells Countryfile Magazine editor, Fergus Collins, why it was so desperately needed.

Aerial view of the Roman fort of Vercovicium

This article first appeared in the May 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine

“People have always cared about the past,” exclaims Simon Thurley when I ask him why it was only in 1913 that the first legislation was passed to protect England’s historic sites. “One of the earliest poems in English is called The Ruin,” he continues. “It’s an Anglo-Saxon poem: an Anglo-Saxon man walking around the ruins of Bath, completely in awe of the remains of Roman civilisation. Admiring ancient monuments as things of beauty, wonder and awe is a very deep-seated concern in the human psyche. It is innate to be interested in, and want to protect, the past.

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