What are the hidden histories of the UK's pilgrim sites?

Open navigator

1. Pilgrim's way

Before the era of cheap flights and high-speed rail, thousands of pilgrims walked the length and breadth of the UK to visit Christian holy sites. Pilgrimage was one of the great adventures of the medieval world.

The journey could be dangerous, but many ordinary people took the chance to pray for help and healing at the shrines of holy men and women. Pilgrims of a higher social status could even hope to touch saintly relics – including bones, teeth and fingernails.

When pilgrimage was banned during the Reformation, many shrines were destroyed – only the churches and cathedrals which housed them remained. Today millions of visitors flock to these ancient sacred sites not only for worship, but also to learn about the histories they harbour.

2. CLICKABLE: Hidden histories

Click on the icons below to discover the holy – and sometimes violent – histories behind some UK pilgrim sites.

This content uses functionality that is not supported by your current browser. Consider upgrading your browser.