In beachnaturehistory

What do the Ice Age, Mr Selfridge and Alex James from Blur have in common?

They all have a strong bond with the stunning area of Hengistbury Head – east along the coast from Bournemouth and a place to cycle, walk, relax and explore.

Hengistbury Head is a stunning headland perched on the edge of the Bournemouth coastline. When you look out to sea there are uninterrupted views of the Isle of Wight to the left and the crescent of the Bournemouth and Poole coastline to the right – all the way to the Isle of Purbeck.

Not only are the views and beaches to die for but this historic landscape has some wonderful wildlife and archaeology as well as a history of Saxon houses and Mr Selfridge’s Castle! Random? Totally – but oh so interesting!

Ice Age and onwards (in a nutshell)!

The first people to leave evidence of their visit to Hengistbury Head, came from Europe around 12,000 years ago, in a warmer period towards the end of the last Ice Age. Towards the end of the Neolithic period and the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago, human use of the headland changed: this became a place for ceremony and ritual. Iron replaced bronze as the preferred metal for and with a ready supply of iron ore, Hengistbury Head was an attractive place for people to settle. Fast forward to the Romans and they arrived by boat from the Roman Empire bringing exotic goods, such as wine and glass.

Mr Selfridge

Harry Gordon Selfridge not only revolutionised high street shopping in Britain – but also had grand plans to transform the headland at Hengistbury Head with a spectacular castle. He purchased Hengistbury Head in the early 1900s and had very elaborate plans drawn up for an extensive turreted castle. Unfortunately for Mr Selfridge, during the Wall Street Crash, his wealth could no longer support his plans and he sold the land back to the council with a convenant (still in force today) that stipulated the land could not be built on.

Alex James from Blur

Not only has Alex carved himself a niche in cheese-making and in pop history as the base player in Blur, but he is also a proud local boy with a love for Hengistbury Head. Alex frequently returns to the area with his young family to visit his father who still lives nearby. Alex loves the area so much that he wanted to be part of the very popular Bournemouth viral video Bournemouth vs. California. He can be seen perched on the top of Hengistbury Head with his cheese and guitar and, of course, an umbrella for our great British weather!

So, whether you’re into cycling, dog walking, chilling or love to get close to nature and history, Hengistbury Head has it all nicely packaged up for you.


Hengistbury Head
Natural Wildlife Site
Steps in the cliff

Hengistbury Head is a relatively unspoilt and south-facing pebble beach, with imposing clay and ironstone cliffs.



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