"Fancy casting your eyes over a life-sized T-Rex, an interactive display of Hadrian's Wall or the preserved body of an Iron Age man?"

Fancy casting your eyes over a life-sized T-Rex, an interactive display of Hadrian's Wall or the preserved body of an Iron Age man? Then make sure you pay a visit to the newly-opened Great North Museum in Newcastle. This new über-museum is an amalgamation of the natural history-focused Hancock Museum, the Museum of Antiquities and the ancient Greece-themed Shefton Museum. The £26m-project will be supported by long-term loans from London's British Museum (whose Lindow Man, dating from the Iron Age, will be lent as part of the inaugural display in July). The new museum also boasts one of the finest collections of ancient Egyptian and Grecian antiquities outside the London collections.

Roman Darlington

Fancy taking your dose of history with a breath of fresh air? Then your next stop should be Darlington. A short bus ride away, the village of Piercebridge may be a little off the beaten track but it does a nice line in ancient Roman ruins, housing the remains of an ancient Roman fort, which is thought to have been built in AD270. You can still see the fort's east gate and defences, a courtyard and part of an internal road. While you're there, make sure you check out the nearby remains of the Roman bridge, which once led to the Roman Fort.

Historic Leeds

Head a few miles south and step into the 12th-century Kirkstall Abbey, one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain, set in parkland along the banks of the River Aire. Across the road is the picturesque Abbey House Museum featuring a recreated Victorian high street, complete with grocery stores and a drinking house. For the full 19th-century experience, take part in a guided tour led by a character in costume or try one on yourself at a 'be a Victorian' session.

Maritime Liverpool

Visit the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool's Albert Dock for a unique look at Britain's seafaring history and Liverpool's unique place within it - from the millions of emigrants who sailed from the city to a better life in the New World, to Liverpool's role in the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the longest campaigns of World War Two. The museum also offers a look at aspects of life at sea, with recent exhibitions including a study of the gay culture in the Merchant Navy.

Lancaster Castle

There's nothing like a visit to a good old-fashioned castle - and nothing captures the imagination quite like Lancaster Castle. Set on the ruins of three successive Roman forts, the castle consists of an imposing set of Medieval buildings dating from the 12th Century onwards. Even more fascinating than the architecture is the castle's grisly history as a prison - the Well Tower housed the Lancashire Witches before their trial in 1612, and extensions for males and females were built in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Tours are available despite the fact that it still serves as a working Crown Court today, providing a fascinating overview of crime and punishment through the ages.

Haunted Edinburgh

For a truly interactive historical experience, try the Scottish capital's infamous walking ghost tour. It's a great way to discover the city's darker side, with tales of 16th-century witchhunts, the plague and some gruesome 17th-century torture. Many tours pass though the city's underground vaults, and you can even visit a genuine witchcraft temple. If you're feeling brave, why not go on an overnight tour, or a private ghost hunting trail  (you may be required to bring along your own equipment!).

So that brings an end to your history lesson - there are no dates to memorise, no kings and queens involved, and you might even see a ghost. Just don't blame us if you learn something along the way.


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