Isn’t it strange to think there are places in Britain where folks once lived, but don’t anymore? Many centuries, even millennia-old settlements have been deserted due to illness, the elements or wartime requirements.

A great way to discover some of the fascinating ghost towns and villages around the UK is through Google Maps online or via the Google Earth desktop program. Click the links below to explore these abandoned or lost communities.

[Read more: Test your UK motorway knowledge in our Google Maps quiz]

How to find hidden villages on Google Maps

While the overhead maps don't always offer that much detail, you can click on the yellow stick man and drop him to a spot on the map to view street-level photos and 360-degree panoramas shot by visitors to these sites.

Click the double up arrow on the bottom menu bar,  then click on each photo to be taken to their location on the map.

In some cases you can even click the ‘3D' button for a tilted perspective.

1. Tyneham, Dorset

Tyneham

The tiny village of Tyneham in Dorset was evacuated in 1943. Its 225 inhabitants were given a month’s notice to vacate when the Southern Command turned it into a tank firing range in preparation for D-Day. Once the war was over, the government retained stewardship of the land. The shell of the post office and school are now open to the public, while the church was reopened in 1973 (via BBC).

Tyneham

Coordinates: 50.622618, -2.168424

Visit Tyneham on Google Maps

[Read more: Explore the world like never before with Google Earth]

2. St Kilda, Scotland

St Kilda

 

A prehistoric settlement dating back to the Bronze Age, there has been no permanent populace in the remotest part of Britain since 1930. With the island’s loss of self-sufficiency amid mass emigration, the 36 remaining residents requested evacuation to the mainland. Many of their forebears had already moved to Melbourne, Australia where a suburb of the same name remains today. Today, it is owned by the Scottish National Trust and is a World Heritage site.

St Kilda Google Maps

Coordinates: 57.812514, -8.571337

Visit St. Kilda on Google Maps

 

3. Imber, Wiltshire

Imber

Inhabitants of Imber were asked to leave in November 1943 with just 47 days’ notice as the Allies prepared for the invasion of Europe. Just like Tyneham, residents were never allowed to return and the village remains a military training ground.

Imber

It is open to the public for 50 days a year, but visitors are greeted with signs reading “Danger. Unexploded military debris. Do not leave the carriageway”, and there’s no phone signal in the village.

Coordinates: 51.236399, -2.051326

Visit Imber on Google Maps

4. Tide Mills, Sussex

Tide Mills

There’s a little less romanticism behind the village of Tide Mills. Once the home of a tidal-powered mill (hence the name) it was abandoned in 1937 after its squalid conditions - no sewage system or street lighting - were deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’ by the government. 

Tide Mill

Coordinates: 50.783553, 0.069694

Visit Tide Mills on Google Maps

[Read more: HMS Victory to Pearl Harbour: How to explore wartime sites using Google Maps]

5. Kenfig, Bridgend

Kenfih

All that’s left of the 11th century settlement is the top of its Norman castle, which sits just above the sand dunes. Once boasting a population of over 1,000, all the villagers had left by the end of the 15th century due to the advancement of the sands.

Kenfig

Coordinates: 51.530354, -3.729980

Visit Kenfig Castle on Google Maps

 

6. Hallsands, Devon

Hallsands

The loss of Hallsands to the sea was of man’s own doing. The removal of shingle in the bay in 1897 for construction work led to the encroachment of the sea, as predicted by protesting residents. 20 years later a vicious storm left only one or two house habitable. The ruins are no longer accessible to the public, as coastal erosion also claimed the access road. The remaining structures can, however, be seen from a viewing platform.

Hallsands photo

Coordinates: 50.236212, -3.659616

Explore Hallsands on Google Maps

Read more in our article: Access denied: 6 top places hidden by Google Maps