Historical sites – 5 reasons why you should visit them
Historical sites – yawn or yay?
Great for a first line, eh?
Now I’m sure if you cast your minds back to your school days, some of you will remember your history classes with either fondness…or you just don’t remember them at all because they were so boring and uninspiring. I myself was in the former crowd. I had a wonderful history teacher called Mr Reid who showed a tremendous passion for history. He would always be asking the class branching questions about why a particular moment in history happened, how this came about and what were the later consequences of those events. I would always be the one eagerly putting my hand up to show off my knowledge. I wanted to be the swot in the class.
At least that’s how wanted to remember it.
In reality, I probably didn’t have all the answers – what student does? What I do remember and still resonates with me to this day is that Mr Reid’s passion and enthusiasm for history made a big impression on me, and when I always travel to some place, local or faraway, the first thing I think about is its history; how it came about; when it came about; why; its impact. Sadly I never took my study of history any further than secondary school education – perhaps things could have turned out differently for me if I did. But what has never left me was an unwavering passion for history, which Mr Reid played a part in nurturing.
So now you all know about how my passion came about, I suppose we’d better get back on track. Why is it important to visit historical sites? Well there are many reasons why I go to these sites. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Historical sites are precious assets
Historical sites add to cultural identity, and also contributes to an area or country’s sense of place in the world. Of course, from an economical point of view, visiting historical sites also help to contribute to the local economy. If you pay an admission fee, or eat at the site’s café, you are contributing to the preservation of that site for future generations to come and enjoy – not to mention the jobs that could be created. Nevertheless, by visiting historical sites, you are ensuring that these assets are being kept as they are – precious.
Historical sites make you aware of humankind’s accomplishments…or failures
I remember when I first visited Salisbury Cathedral. Every time I looked at the spire, and studied those majestic gothic arches inside, I was taken back at how that kind of structure was built 800 years before with no modern tools or machinery. Equally, when I visited the Roman ruins of Carthage in modern-day Tunisia….I couldn’t help but think what would things be like now if this great empire survived the Battle of Carthage.
Historical sites can help you see the bigger picture
A lot of us are privileged to live the lives we are living today. Some of us live in our own bubble where we’re just worried only about ourselves and our own problems, and this can be a lonely experience. By going to historical sites such as George Stephenson’s childhood home where he shared one room with his whole family puts into perspective that life never remains the same, and with a bit of grit and determination great things can come to you.
History is brought to life
It’s all very well reading texts and TV shows about the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane in France. But visiting the actual site where this terrible event happened brings a sense of realism that no textbook or TV programme can; it helps you connect with the area and with the people involved. Visiting an historical site makes learning about history interactive.
Historical sites make you happy
That’s right, visiting historic sites make you happy. Well certainly in England it does. A 2014 report by Historic England found that visiting historic towns and buildings had the greatest impact on wellbeing and a positive relationship with life satisfaction. The research went further to translate this into a monetary value, stating that visiting a historic site would enhance a person’s wellbeing to the equivalent of at least £847. So not only do you get to learn some history; you also get richer in the process!
So these are my 5 reasons to visit historical sites. I’m sure some of you out there have yours – what are they?