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Old Sarum

Castle Road

The great earthwork of Old Sarum stands near Salisbury on the edge of Wiltshire's chalk plains. Its mighty ramparts were raised in about 500 BC by Iron Age peoples, and later occupied by the Romans, the Saxons and, most importantly, the Normans.

William the Conqueror paid off his army here in 1070, and in 1086 summoned all the great landowners of England here to swear an oath of loyalty. A Norman castle was built on the inner mound, and joined soon afterwards by a royal palace. By the middle of the 12th century a new town occupied much of the great earthwork, complete with a noble new Norman cathedral, the mother church of a huge diocese.

But Norman Sarum was not destined to thrive. Soldiers and priests quarelled, and life on the almost waterless hilltop became intolerable. The solution was a move downhill to the new settlement now known as Salisbury, where a new cathedral was founded in 1220.Thereafter Old Sarum went into steep decline. Its cathedral was demolished and its castle was eventually abandoned. But the largely uninhabited site continued to 'elect' two MPs, becoming the most notorious of the 'Rotten Boroughs' swept away by the 1832 Reform Act.

Today, the remains of the prehistoric fortress and of the Norman palace, castle and cathedral evoke memories of thousands of years of history, which are interpreted by graphic panels throughout the site.

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Road Access: 2 miles N of Salisbury, off A345
Train Access: Salisbury 2 miles
Bus Access: Wilts & Dorset/Stagecoach in Hampshire, 5-9 from Salisbury.

Old Sarum is now included in The Stonehenge Tour, a special all-inclusive package from Salisbury railway station and city centre which includes a bus tour with commentary and admission to Stonehenge and Old Sarum. For details visit www.thestonehengetour.info or call 01722 336855

Old Sarum Postcode for SatNav: SP1 3SD


01722 335398
01722 416037

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