List of oldest buildings in the United Kingdom

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Skara Brae 3180 BC–2500 BC a Neolithic village in Scotland with a high degree of sophistication including furnishings and drainage
Mousa Broch, built c. 1st century BC
The Roman lighthouse at Dover Castle, built c. 1st century
St. Peter-on-the-Wall Chapel, c. 7th century, is one of the oldest Christian churches in England.

This article lists the oldest extant freestanding buildings in the United Kingdom. In order to qualify for the list a structure must:

  • be a recognisable building
  • either incorporate features of building work from the claimed date to at least 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in height and/or be a listed building.
  • incorporate features of building work of the above nature that date from no later than 1300 AD.

Roads are excluded although other structures such as bridges may be included if they otherwise fulfil the above criteria.

Before 500 AD[edit]

Building Location Date built Notes
Knap of Howar Papa Westray, Orkney, Scotland 3700 BC[1] A Neolithic farmstead, probably the oldest preserved stone house in northern Europe.[2][3]
West Kennet Long Barrow Wiltshire, England 3650 BC Passage grave located near Silbury Hill and Avebury stone circle.[4]
Midhowe Chambered Cairn Rousay, Orkney, Scotland 3500 BC A well-preserved example of the Orkney-Cromarty type of chambered cairn.[5]
Pentre Ifan Nanhyfer, Pembrokeshire, Wales 3500 BC The largest and best preserved Neolithic Dolmen in Wales.
Tomb of the Eagles South Ronaldsay, Orkney, Scotland 3150 BC This chambered tomb was in use for 800 years or more. 16,000 human bones were found here, as well as 725 bird bones, predominantly white-tailed sea eagle.[6]
Skara Brae Bay of Skaill, Mainland Orkney, Scotland 3100 BC A large stone-built Neolithic village Mainland, Orkney, Scotland 3180 BC–2500 BC. Europe's most complete Neolithic village with a high level of preservation and sophistication.[7]
Unstan Chambered Cairn Stenness, Mainland Orkney, Scotland 2800–3400 BC An Orkney-Cromarty chambered cairn.
Belas Knap Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England, UK 3000BC A Neolithic long barrow with what appears to be the main entrance, with intricate dry-stone walling and large limestone jambs and lintels is, in fact, a false one. The actual burial chambers are down the long east and west sides of the barrow and at its southern foot. There are four burial chambers, two on opposite sides near the middle, one at the south-east angle and one at the south end. These are formed of upright stone slabs, linked by dry-stone walling and originally had corbelled roofs.[8]
Maeshowe Stenness, Mainland Orkney, Scotland 2700 BC A large and unique chambered cairn and passage grave, aligned so that its central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice.[9]
Barnhouse Settlement Stenness, Mainland Orkney, Scotland 2600 BC A Neolithic settlement.[10]
Jarlshof Sumburgh, Shetland, Scotland 200 BC A complex of preserved wheelhouses, amongst the remains of a variety of much older and more recent buildings.[11][12]
Broch of Mousa Mousa, Shetland, Scotland 1st century BC Located on a small island in Shetland, this is the best preserved of numerous brochs from this period.[13]
Bartlow Hills Bartlow Hills in Ashdon Parish Essex near Bartlow, Cambridgeshire. 1st–2nd Century A Roman tumuli cemetery. There were originally seven Bartlow mounds. The tallest at 15 metres in height is the largest barrow north of the Alps.[14]
Temple of Claudius (Colchester Castle) Colchester, Essex, England c. 60 The substantial podium and vaults are of the Roman temple (of Camulodunum, capital of Britain). The Norman castle above dates from c. 1076.[15]
Balkerne Gate Colchester, Essex, England c. 80 The remainder of the gateway through the Roman wall of Colchester is the largest surviving gateway in Roman Britain.[16]
Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre Caerleon, Newport, Wales c. 90
'Walls Castle' Ravenglass, Cumbria c. 120 Remains of Roman bath house: one of the largest remaining Roman structures in Britain
Edin's Hall Broch Duns, Berwickshire, Scotland c. 140 Substantial broch, sited on a much earlier hill fort. One of a very few built south of the Highlands and Islands.[17]
London Wall London, England c. 200 Significant remains of Roman wall at various locations in London
Painted House Dover, Kent, England c. 200 Also one of the best preserved Roman houses in Britain
Portchester Castle Portchester, Hampshire 285–290 Complete remains of large Roman walled fort. The best preserved Roman fort north of the Alps
Newport Arch Lincoln 3rd century Intact arch of the former Roman gate. Part of the Roman fortifications around Lincoln.
Saint Helen's Chapel Colchester, Essex, England c. 330 This small church, now a Greek Orthodox church near the Roman Temple, now Colchester Castle is the earliest surviving church in the British Isles. It was built in the capital of Roman Britain in the early to mid 300s AD on the instructions of Saint Helen, mother of Saint Constantine, the Roman Emperor Constantine.
Multangular Tower and wall York 4th century Surviving parts of the Roman fortifications around York
Beehive cells Eileach an Naoimh, Argyll, Scotland 6th century The monastic centre on this island was founded by St. Brendan the Navigator in 542. The oldest remains include a double beehive cell and a grave and cross-slab associated with Eithne the mother of Columba. These are the oldest extant church buildings in Scotland and possibly Britain.[18][19][20]

500 AD to 1000 AD[edit]

Building Location Earliest extant structure date Notes
St Martin's Church, Canterbury Canterbury, Kent 597 The oldest church building in England, still functioning as a church. St Martin's was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome.
Tide mill on Mahee Island Mahee Island in Strangford Lough, Down, Northern Ireland 619 The tide mill is part of the Nendrum Monastery site. The wood from the mill has been dated to 619, making it one of the oldest excavated tide mills in the world.
Church of St Peter-on-the-Wall Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, England 654 The Chapel is assumed to be that of "Ythanceaster" (Bede, book III, chapter XXII), originally constructed as an Anglo-Celtic Church for the East Saxons in 654 AD by St Cedd, astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona incorporating the Roman bricks and stones.
Escomb Church Escomb, County Durham, England 670
Ripon Cathedral Ripon, North Yorkshire, England 672 Only the crypt survives at all – the earliest part of the cathedral itself is 1069
Hexham Abbey Hexham, Northumberland, England 674 St. Wilfred's 7th-century crypt survives, built largely out of stones from the Roman city at Corbridge. The main part of the abbey church dates to the 12th and 13th centuries.
St Peter's Church Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, England 674
St Mary's Church Hart, County Durham, England 675
St Paul's Church Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, England 680 The Saxon chancel survives.
Anglian Tower York 7th century Surviving part of the Northumbrian fortifications around York
St Laurence's Church Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, England 7th century
St Mary the Virgin Church Prittlewell, Essex, England Pre-Conquest north wall, incorporating probably 7th century arch[21]
All Saints Church Brixworth, Northamptonshire, England 650–870
Greensted Church Greensted, Essex, England 845 The oldest wooden building in England
St Nicholas' Church, Leicester Leicester, Leicestershire, England c. 900
St Peter's Church, Barton-upon-Humber Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire 9th (baptistery) and 10th centuries One of the best-known Anglo-Saxon buildings, owing to its role in Thomas Rickman's identification of the style.
St Nicholas' Church Worth, Crawley, England c. 950 / 1050
St Mary's Church Sompting, West Sussex, England c. 960
All Saints' Church, Earls Barton Earls Barton, Northamptonshire c. 970 Even though only the tower survives from the original church, this is one of the best examples of later Anglo-Saxon architecture.
Stow Minster Stow, Lincolnshire 975 Cathedral church of the ancient Diocese of Lindsey. On site of earlier 7th-century building.
Nendrum Monastery Mahee Island in Strangford Lough, Down, Northern Ireland 9th or 10th century Pre-Norman monastic site, the church dates to the 9th or 10th century. When the site was rediscovered, a sun dial dating to around 900 AD was found.
St Mary's Church Northchurch Hertfordshire. Late Anglo-Saxon. The south and part of the west wall are Saxon. The church was probably the pre-conquest (pre-1066) parish church of Berkhamsted.[22][23][24]

11th century[edit]

Building Location Earliest extant structure date Notes
St Bene't's Church Cambridge, Cambridgeshire c.1000 The tower is believed to have been built around c.1000, although the bell louvers were added in 1586. The tower contains 6 bells, the oldest of which was cast in 1588
Holy Trinity Church Colchester, Essex, England 1020 Oldest building in Colchester, which has an Anglo-Saxon tower with an arrow head doorway. Burial place of William Gilbert and madrigal composer John Wilbye. Grade I listed building.
Corhampton Church Corhampton, Hampshire, England c. 1020 This is one of the few remaining Saxon churches in regular use and in good repair, surviving substantially unaltered. It dates to the first quarter of the eleventh century and probably before 1020.
St Martin's Church, Wareham Wareham, Dorset, England 1030 Anglo-Saxon features include a tall, narrow nave and chancel, late Anglo-Saxon wall-arcading in the north west aisle and traces of a Saxon door.
St Michael at the North Gate Oxford, England 1040 The tower dates from 1040. Oxford's oldest building.
Holy Trinity Church Great Paxton, Cambridgeshire, England 1050 One of only three Anglo-Saxon aisled churches to be found today in England
St Chad's Church Stafford, Staffordshire, England 1050
Berkhamsted Castle Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England 1067 After William the Conqueror defeated and killed Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, the Anglo-Saxons submitted to him at Berkhamsted in early December 1066.[25][26] William was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066.[26] After his coronation, William granted the "Honour of Berkhamsted" to his half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain, who built a wooden fortification that later became a royal retreat for the monarchs of the Norman to Plantagenet dynasties.[27][28] From 1066 to 1495, Berkhamsted Castle was a favoured royal residence, held by many English monarchs, queen consorts and other royals, including Henry II and Edward, the Black Prince; as well as royal favourites and historical figures such as Thomas Becket and Geoffrey Chaucer.[29] In 1833 the castle became the first historic site in England to be protected by statute, though the new railway line in 1834 did demolish the castle's gatehouse and outer earthworks to the south.[30]
Chepstow Castle Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales 1067
Norwich Castle Norwich, East Anglia, England 1067
Lincoln Castle Lincoln 1068 (completed)
Canterbury Cathedral Canterbury, Kent, England 1070 Founded in 597
St. Michael's Church, Southampton Southampton, Hampshire, England 1070 The west wall has one of the original Norman pilaster buttresses.
Richmond Castle Richmond, North Yorkshire, England Constructed from 1071
Lincoln Cathedral Lincoln 1072 Largely destroyed by the 1185 East Midlands earthquake, after which it was rebuilt. Parts of the west end remain of the original.
Tower of London London, England 1078
Hereford Cathedral Hereford, England 1079
Rochester Cathedral Rochester, Kent, England 1080 Gundulf's tower and the core of the nave piers.[31]
Ely Cathedral Ely, Cambridgeshire, England 1083 started
Shrewsbury Abbey Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England 1083
Hedingham Castle Castle Hedingham, Essex c.1086 The manor of Hedingham was awarded to Aubrey de Vere I by William the Conqueror by 1086. The castle was constructed by the de Veres in the late 11th to early 12th century and the keep in the 1130s and 1140s.
St Albans Cathedral St Albans, Hertfordshire, England 1089
St Nicholas Church Iford, East Sussex, England c. 1090[32]
Durham Cathedral Durham, England 1093 started Building commenced in 1093 and was largely completed within 40 years. Durham Cathedral is the only cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship, and one of few to preserve the unity and integrity of its original design. The nave, quire and transepts are all Norman.
Winchester Cathedral Winchester, Hampshire, England 1079 started 1093 consecrated
Norwich Cathedral Norwich, Norfolk, England 1096
Westminster Hall City of Westminster, England 1097[33][34] Oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster. The roof was possibly originally supported by pillars, giving three aisles, but during the reign of King Richard II, this was replaced by a hammerbeam roof in 1393. However, recent archaeological explorations found no evidence of these pillars, and the roof may have been self-supporting from the beginning.
Lancaster Castle Lancaster, Lancashire, England Speculated 11th century although exact date is unknown.
Borley Church Borley, Essex 11th century A small 11th century church. Later renovations have resulted in the mainly perpendicular style of the mid-14th to 16th centuries.[35]

12th century[edit]

Building Location Earliest extant structure date Notes
St Marys Church, Little Abington Little Abington, Cambridgeshire c.1100 (nave only) The nave has got a very fine example of a rounded arched doorway.
St Laurence & All Saints' Church Eastwood, Essex, England c. 1100 nave[21]
Church of St Martin of Tours Detling, Kent, England c. 1100[36]
St Andrew's Church South Shoebury, Essex, England c. 1100–1140 nave and chancel[21]
Church of St Andrew, Stogursey Stogursey, Somerset, England 1107[37]
St Margaret's Chapel Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland 1124
St Andrew's Church Haughton-le-Skerne, Darlington, County Durham 1125[citation needed]
Furness Abbey Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England 1127 Abbey founded in 1123, construction of the church began in 1127 and some of this early fabric survives.[38]
St Mary's Church, West Chiltington West Chiltington, West Sussex, England 1100–1150 A Saxon building is recorded in the Domesday book, almost certainly on the same site. It is not known whether or not any of the older building was incorporated into the Norman structure.
Carlisle Castle Carlisle, Cumbria, England c. 1122–1135[39]
Cambridge Leper Chapel Cambridge, Cambridgshire c.1125 Built in 1125, The Leper Chapel was part of the buildings of a leprosy hospital that once stood on a road going to Bury St Edmunds and is one of the oldest buildings in Cambridge.
Rochester Castle Rochester, Kent, England 1127
St Rule's Tower St Andrews, Fife, Scotland 1127
Holyrood Abbey Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland 1128
Dunfermline Abbey Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland 1128
Church of Our Lady Warnford, Hampshire, England c. 1130 Norman west tower of c. 1130, Early English single-cell nave and chancel of c. 1190
Dover Priory Dover, Kent, England 1131 One of the oldest monastic refectories, still in use today by Dover College
Exeter Cathedral Exeter, England 1133 Commenced building 1112, consecrated in 1133, and completed in 1170. Completely rebuilt between 1272 and 1342 except for the two transept towers.
Kirkstead Abbey Kirkstead, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England 1139 (founded) Destroyed during the Reformation; only a single part remains
Cardiff Castle Cardiff, Wales c. 1140 The existing Great Keep was built by Robert "the Consul".[40]
Ancient Ram Inn Wotton Under Edge, Gloucester c. 1145 Once a part of a medieval manor, The Ancient Ram Inn is said to be one of the oldest houses in existence today. Built around 1145, it is considered the most haunted house in England.
Cubbie Roo's Castle Wyre, Orkney, Scotland c. 1145 The ruins include a small square keep still extant to 2.4 metres (8 ft) in height.[41]
All Saints Church, East Meon East Meon, Hampshire, England c. 1150 One of the finest Norman churches in Hampshire. This cruciform church has a square, central Norman tower with decoration similar to that of Winchester Cathedral.
Templar Tower Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire c.1150
Birkenhead Priory Birkenhead, Wirral, England 1150
Holy Trinity Church Southchurch, Essex, England c. 1150 nave of original church, now part of the south aisle[21]
Jew's House Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England c. 1150
Adel St John the Baptist Church Adel, Leeds, Yorkshire, England 1150
Windsor Castle Windsor, Berkshire, England 1154
Bradwell Abbey Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England 1155 The Grade I Listed Chapel still remains, the inside of the chapel is often open to the public
Saltford Manor House Saltford, Somerset, England c. 1160
Warwick Castle Warwick, Warwickshire, England c. 1160 A "Burh" was built on the site in 914,[42] replaced by a motte and bailey, in turn replaced by a stone keep by King Henry II (1154–89).
Newcastle Castle Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England 1172 The Castle Keep, which constitutes the oldest of the surviving structures, was built between 1172 and 1177 on the site of an older wooden castle.
Carrickfergus Castle Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland 1177 Built by John de Courcy
Inch Abbey Downpatrick, Down, Northern Ireland 1177 Built by John de Courcy
Prittlewell Priory Prittlewell, Essex, England c.1180 north wall of the refectory[21]
Killyleagh Castle Killyleagh, Down, Northern Ireland c.1180
Church of St Nicholas, Eythorne Kent, England Circa 1180[43] A small Romanesque church, with fine 12th-century carvings reminiscent of work done at Canterbury Cathedral in the 1170s.
Malmesbury Abbey Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England c. 1180 About a third of the original building remains, and is still in use
Quintin Castle County Antrim, Northern Ireland 1184 Built by John de Courcy
Oakham Castle Oakham, Rutland, England 1180–1190 The great hall remains and is Grade I listed. Entrance is free
Pembroke Castle Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, Wales c. 1189 Concentric stone castle built by William Marshall from 1189.[44]
Newark Priory Pyrford, Surrey, England c. 1189–1199 Established in the late 12th century by Rauld de Calva and his wife Beatrice de Sandes for Augustinian canons. Still exists as ruins today and is listed as a Grade I Ancient Monument.
Holy Cross Church Sarratt, Hertfordshire, England c. 1190[45] The Victoria County History suggests that 'the main fabric of the chancel dates to the last decade of the 12th Century, with no architectural indication of an earlier date'. Contained within the church is believed to be the original 12th-century font and a 13th-century sarcophagus lid. Also notable is a rare survivor of High Medieval wall painting dated to c. 1370 AD.
Cleeve Abbey Washford, Somerset, England 1198[46]
St Laurence's Church Ludlow, Shropshire, England 1199[47]
Holywood Priory Holywood, Down, Northern Ireland c. 12th century
St Oran's Chapel Iona, Argyll, Scotland 12th century Burial place of Scottish kings until Donald III, incorporates a 12th-century door.[48]
Sketrick Castle Whiterock, Down, Northern Ireland Late 12th century
St Laurence's Church Northfield, Birmingham, England 12th century The church contains some of the finest Early English work in the county.[49]

13th century[edit]

Building Location Earliest extant structure date Notes
Easaigh Church Ensay, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Scotland 12th century[citation needed]
Aberdour Castle Aberdour, Fife, Scotland c. 1200 Base of a late 12th- or early 13th-century hall house incorporated into later buildings[50]
Dundrum Castle Dundrum, Down, Northern Ireland 1205 or earlier
Icomb Place Icomb, Gloucestershire, England At least 1200–40 The first documented activity in the house was a "restoration" in 1200. The episcopal manor of Blockley owned the estate in 1086
Salisbury Cathedral Salisbury, Wiltshire, England 1220–1258
St Mary the Virgin Church North Shoebury, Essex, England c.1230 chancel and possibly nave[21]
St. Leonard's Without Kirkstead, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England 1230–40
St Nicolas' Church Kings Norton, Birmingham, England Early 13th century[51]
Coleraine Castle Coleraine, Londonderry, Northern Ireland Rebuilt 1248 Originally built in the 12th century, it was destroyed. Rebuilt in 1248 by John FitzGeoffrey.
St Peters Church Maidstone, Kent, England 1261 (at least) The original charter for the chapel is lost, but a confirmation charter exists from this year.[52]
York Castle York, Yorkshire, England 1265
Caerphilly Castle Caerphilly, South Wales 1268–1271 A concentric stone castle surrounded by lakes, the second largest fortress in Britain.[53]
Tintern Abbey Tintern, Monmouthshire, Wales 1269–1301[54] The existing ruins of the great church date from this period.
All Hallows Church Wellingborough, Northants. c. 1280 Construction of the existing tower began c. 1280 and took 20 years to complete.[55]
173, High Street, Berkhamsted Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England c. 1277–97 The oldest known extant jettied timber-framed building in Great Britain, dated by dendrochronology of structural timbers to between 1277 and 1297, currently in use as an estate agent and flat.[56][57][58][59]
Dunluce Castle County Antrim, Northern Ireland c. 1271–1300
White Island Monastic site Lough Erne, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland 13th century? Carvings used in the ruined church building are thought to be dated to around 800 AD. The monastery itself was probably destroyed by Viking raiders in 837. Around 400 years later, a Romanesque style church was built on the site.
St Edburgha's Church Yardley, Birmingham, England 13th century

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