Discover some history on the Isle of Wight

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If you have an interest in history, come and explore some of the great places we care for on the Isle of Wight. Here's just a sample of what you can find.

From the Stone Age to the Iron Age: the oldest monument, the Long Stone at Mottistone Common, dates back to Neolithic times. Although it was used as a moot stone (meeting place) in Saxon times, it was originally part of a communal long barrow.

Barrows were also built during the Bronze Age, 2,000 years later. There are numerous examples along the prominent high chalk ridges such as Tennyson, Brook and Mottistone Downs.

The Iron Age is represented by the earthworks at Castle Hill, close to the Long Stone. It most likely was a defended enclosure, dating to a few hundred years BC.

From the Romans to the 20th century: evidence of Roman remains (the Romans called our Island ‘Vectis’) has been found across the island, with some notable pottery finds made around the Mottistone area.

Not much remains from the Dark Ages, but traces of medieval farming activity are fairly common. Ridges and furrows are clearly visible when the light is right.

Newtown Old Town Hall dates back to the time when this small village had two MPs. It was saved for posterity by the mysterious Ferguson Gang. And you can visit the only surviving windmill on the island, Bembridge Windmill, which dates back to 1700.

The brickwork of a lime kiln has recently been restored near Mottistone. Salt pans and evidence of brick-making can still be seen around the Newtown Estuary.

Marconi connection

St Catherine’s Down is topped by the Oratory, which has a fascinating history dating back to a shipwreck in 1313.

Marconi performed early experiments in telegraphy from Knowles Farm nearby at St Catherine’s Point.

Newtown is always worth visiting: it was a thriving town until the French destroyed it in 1377. It later became notorious as a rotten borough.

Military archaeology

Bembridge Fort was built in the 19th century as part of the defences against the French, and is currently being restored. Guided tours are offered in the summer. The Needles Old Battery was also busiest at that time.

Culver Downs and Ventnor Downs were very important places in the Second World War, and the large chains used in the original radar stations can still be found.

The Needles headland was a top-secret rocket testing site in the Cold War.