If you’re planning a tour of England, or even if you’re just look to get out and see something new and unusual that instills that feeling of magic and mysticism; be sure to visit these off-the-beaten-path English locations that are every bit as steeped in myth and mystique as the overcrowded Stonehenge.
- St. Nectan’s Glen
Thought to be the location where King Arthur’s knights spiritually purified themselves in the water before starting their quest for the Holy Grail, St. Nectan’s Glen in Cornwall has been considered a holy place since medieval times.
A Christian shrine was built at St. Nectan’s Glen sometime in the 6th century (lending credibility to King Arthur’s knights visiting the site), but the origins of the beautiful natural formation go back much further. The waterfall of St. Nectan’s Glen was formed over time by the River Trevillet eroding away through the prehistoric slate.
Visitors at St. Nectan’s Glen still treat it as a holy and mystical place, often leaving little offerings of crystals, ribbons, flowers, photos, notes, and prayers.
- Chanctonbury Ring
The Chanctonbury Ring in West Sussex consists of a circle of beech trees that were planted in 1760. The site also marks an Iron Age hill fort that was common for the time. But it’s the legends that have surrounded the Chanctonbury Ring since then that’s brought it to public attention.
There’s an ancient legend that says that if you run backwards around the Chanctonbury Ring seven times, the Devil will appear. The site is also a “hotspot” for UFO activity, according to local witnesses of unexplained phenomenon in the air above the hill.
The Chanctonbury Ring is also supposedly haunted, and some of the spirits have been malicious enough to frighten off a number of psychics and “ghost hunters.” Aleister Crowley, the famous English occultist, called the Ring a special “place of power.”
This is one of those oddities of nature that could almost seem magical and otherworldly in design. Puzzlewood’s strange rock formations, known as “scowles” in the area, have a unique puzzle-like pattern to them, giving name to the legendary area that’s inspired many British filmmakers. Puzzlewood has been featured in shows like Merlin and Doctor Who.
Because of the odd way that the rocky outcrops formed, Puzzlewood also has a series of cave systems that have risen up throughout the eons. The rock formations have inspired centuries of mystery. Even the Romans were drawn to Puzzlewood’s strange mysteriousness. In 1848, several jars containing 3,000 Roman coins were found where someone had stashed them in a crevice so many ages ago. What else could Puzzlewood be hiding?
- The Shell Grotto
The strange Shell Grotto in Margate, Kent is surrounded in mystery ever since its discovery. Even the discovery of the site is really just myth and legend at this point. The most commonly accepted story is that in 1835, a little boy and his father stumbled across a small hole that led into the structure.
But the kicker is: nobody knows who built it and why. Even more impressive is the sheer amount of effort and dedication that went into building the Shell Grotto, that was lost for who-knows-how-long. Many people believe it was used as a Pagan temple. The Grotto holds 4.6 millions shells over 2,000 square feet of rooms, and countless strange symbols and images. The whole place remains a mystery.