Virtual history awaits at Cornwall’s English Heritage sites


MAIN IMAGE Tintagel - Credit: Nigel Wallace-Iles

English Heritage invites readers into its virtual world with a tour of 30 of its most iconic landmarks and their treasures without leaving your house

PENDENNIS CASTLE Exterior view of the Keep taken from the Half Moon Battery. Credit English Herita

PENDENNIS CASTLE Exterior view of the Keep taken from the Half Moon Battery. Credit English Heritage/Nigel Corrie - Credit: English Heritage

Virtual tours of some of our most stunning landmarks have gone online as part of a unique project that brings 30 historic buildings, monuments and sites to your screen.

The tours can take you to some of the country’s favourite spots – from Tintagel to Stonehenge plus a few new ones to explore.

Using Google’s unique digital technology, the stories of 29 English Heritage sites around the country are brought to life and shared via the Google Arts & Culture platform.

As necessity is the mother of invention, the lockdown has seen the platform work of a heritage organisation or a multi-site institution for the first time. Among Cornwall’s favourites are Tintagel Castle which allows you to explore this medieval castle set high on Cornwall’s rugged north coast. Inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, for centuries this dramatic castle and coastline has fired the imaginations of writers, artists and even the brother of a king. Discover the Early Medieval history of a remote outpost which trading objects from Spain, North Africa and Turkey.

See file name

See file name - Credit: Archant

You can also tour Falmouth’s fantastic Pendennis Castle. Set on a headland with breathtaking views out to sea, Pendennis Castle is one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses. The picturesque castle has defended Cornwall since Tudor times and played a vital role during the two World Wars.

And the Stonehenge Skyscape makes 30. The separate project enables people around the world to step inside the celebrated stone circle and see the stones and the skies above them at any time of the day or night, offering great insight on the movements of the sun, moon and planets and the solar alignment of Stonehenge, as well as offering a sense of mindfulness and calm.

Most Read

English Heritage closed all of its staffed historic sites from 18 March and cancelled all public events during the closure period.

Some free-to-enter sites with large open spaces remained open for periods of exercise, but these are sites in quieter spots away from crowds, allowing visitors to maintain social distancing.

Osborne, Isle of Wight

Osborne, Isle of Wight - Credit: Jim Holden

“As we join together to meet the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, we are all looking for ways to continue doing the things we love whilst observing the necessary limitations of social distancing or self-isolation,” says Anna Eavis, English Heritage Curatorial Director, “English Heritage is offering everyone the chance to experience our historic sites from home and learn about them in new ways. You can see some of our historic masterpieces and rare artefacts in fantastic quality, created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture.

English Heritage is the custodian of more than 400 places around the country which together tell the story of England.

Join English Heritage and help support its work at

Best of the rest

Stonehenge Skyscape

English Heritage’s Stonehenge Skyscape enables people around the world to experience the skies above the iconic stone circle, to learn about movements of the sun, moon and planets and to see the solar alignment at Stonehenge. Experience a live sunrise over Stonehenge, see the journey of the stars within the stone circle and learn more about the design of Stonehenge and how its builders may have understood their place in the cosmos.

Osborne Isle of Wight

Take a 360-degree video tour of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight in the company of English Heritage curator Michael Hunter, including the Italian terraces with views over the Solent, which reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples, and the Indian-inspired Durbar Room, designed to reflect Queen Victoria’s position as Empress of India.

Kenwood House London

Explore the world-class art collection of one of North London’s most important historic houses, including Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait with Two Circles’, are free for everyone to enjoy. Explore the lavishly decorated interiors of the house including the set piece Grand Ceiling of the Adam Library, decorated with Antonio Zucchi’s magnificent ceiling paintings and captured via gigapixel camera.

This article first appeared in Cornwall Life May 2020