I'm wondering if one has to be careful while hiking through historical significant areas. Let's say there is a Celtic grave which is pretty good excavated. Am I allowed to walk over it?

I'm asking for the UK (other regions would be interesting, too of course).

  • Each EU country will have different laws around this so you may need to narrow this done
    – user2766
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 15:19
  • @Liam Are you sure about that? We even have laws for equally shaped cucumbers...
    – OddDeer
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 15:20
  • 1
    Access laws are extremely complicated, they vary considerably between England and Scotland! let alone the UK and (for example) Germany
    – user2766
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 15:22
  • 1
    @Liam Edited... Made it easy :P
    – OddDeer
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


Great question. In the UK a lot of historical sites are not only accessible but encouraged to explore! You can hike around and in many hill forts, for example, many of which are on National Trust property so they often signpost how to get to them. You can (and I have!) hike over the Nine Barrow Downs, which is a very interesting site. It's a chalk hill formation down near Swanage. You can even find the odd Roman excavation to explore, but a lot of areas like this, and Corfe Castle (which is ultimately a ruin) do require paid for access.

There are many however that gain a lot of traffic and therefore have had restrictions put in place, these include the world famous Stonehenge and Hadrians Wall. This is to preserve the architecture for future visitors. However you can gain access to certain parts of the wall, and Stonehenge I believe still has yearly access for druids. By this I mean they get full access and can go right up to the stones, which otherwise is prohibited.

The UK has a very rich and varied history and as such we've plenty of historical sites, an abundance of which are free to hike in and around.


This pretty much boils down to access. If you have the right to access the area, the fact that it is a historical site means little. So if there is a footpath you can walk along the footpath. If it's open access area, common land or right to roam then again no issues. If it's owned then you must obey the laws of the land/owner for example many historical sites in the UK are owned by the National Trust, etc

One major exception to this rule (in regards to historical areas) is

Protection of military war graves

The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (1986 c. 35) is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom which provides protection for the wreckage of military aircraft and designated military vessels.....

The Act provides for two types of protection: protected places and controlled sites.[11] The primary reason for designation is to protect the last resting place of UK servicemen (or other nationals).

though access itself is typically accepted:

The Act makes it an offence to interfere with a protected place, to disturb the site or to remove anything from the site


FYI: this is only UK, I don't believe such a law exists outside of the UK


Here in the US, it depends on whether it's just a historical site, or if there are artifacts. Disturbing or defacing historical or archeological artifacts on public lands is a felony, and is taken quite seriously.

Of course signs trump everything. If a sign says, "keep out" and there is a fence or even just a ribbon denoting the area to stay out of, stay out of it.

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