Saints and Stones: Old Sarum

Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury in Wiltshire. It contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 B.C. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country. It sits on a hill about two miles north of modern Salisbury.

Old Sarum was originally a hill fort strategically placed on the conjunction of two trade routes and the River Avon. The hill fort is broadly oval in shape. 1300 feet in length and 1200 feet in width, it consists of a bank and ditch with an entrance on the eastern side.

The Romans held it as a strong military station. Under the Saxons it ranked among the most considerable towns of the West Kingdom, and possessed ecclesiastical establishments soon after the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity. In the early part of the 9th Century, it was the frequent residence of Egbert; and in 960, Edgar assembled there a national council to devise the best means of repelling the Danes in the north. In 1086, William the Norman convened in this city the prelates, nobles, sheriffs, and knights of his new dominions, there to receive their homage

After the Norman Conquest, the town was renamed Salisberie, and a wooden castle with a ditch and a cathedral and bishop's palace was begun in 1067. It was completed it in 1092 (it burned down five days later). A replacement cathedral was completed in 1190. Space eventually ran out and the water supply was taxed on the hilltop, and with cathedral and castle sitting in close proximity, and their respective chiefs in regular conflict, relocation was inevitable. In 1219 the bishop started construction on a new cathedral on the banks of the Avon, and a new settlement grew up around it, called New Sarum— eventually taking the name of Salisbury.

About Old Sarum

Megalithic Portal: Old Sarum
The Modern Antiquarian: Old Sarum
Wikipedia: Old Sarum
Wikipedia: Hill Fort

Journey to Old Sarum

Old Sarum is off the A345 north of Salisbury in Wiltshire in southern England.

Ordnance Survey Map (SU1360232659)

Visitors Information

Visitors information for Old Sarum may be found at the English Heritage website. General tourist information for the area may be found on the Visit Wiltshire website.

Additional Photos of Old Sarum

Sign at Old Sarum
Descriptive Sign at Old Sarum
Ditch Surrounding Old Sarum
Ruins of Old Sarum
Ruins of Old Sarum
Ruins of Old Sarum
Steps in the Ruins of Old Sarum
First Cathedral Site at Old Sarum
View of Salisbury and Present Cathedral from Old Sarum

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