Old Sarum

Archaeological Site in Salisbury

The huge ramparts of Old Sarum sit on a grass-covered hill 2 miles north of Salisbury. You can wander the grassy ramparts, see the original cathedral's stone foundations, and look across the Wiltshire countryside to the spire of the present Salisbury Cathedral. Medieval tournaments, jousts, open-air plays and mock battles are held on selected days. Bus X5 runs hourly from Salisbury to Old Sarum (£2.30), Monday to Saturday. It's also a stop on the Stonehenge Tour bus.

The site began life as a hill fort during the Iron Age, and was later occupied by both the Romans and the Saxons. By the mid-11th century it was a town – one of the most important in the west of England. William the Conqueror convened one of his earliest councils here and the first cathedral was built in 1092, snatching the bishopric from nearby Sherborne Abbey. But Old Sarum had problems: it was short on water and exposed to the elements, and in 1219 the bishop was given permission to move the cathedral, so founding the modern-day city of Salisbury. By 1331 Old Sarum's cathedral had been demolished for building materials and the settlement was practically abandoned.


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