Posted by: nancycurteman | February 7, 2013

Old Sarum: Five Thousand Years of History

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old-sarum-rotating-image-1Old Sarum is located on a hill north of modern Salisbury in southern England. For more than 4,000 years it served as a fortress and religious site, from a Neolithic fort to a Norman castle and cathedral.

The Old Sarum location contains evidence of human habitation as early as Neolithic times-3000 BC. There is some evidence that the Neolithic people may have known mathematical theories and how to write. Skills they probably needed to construct their forts and henges.

Romans, Normans and Saxons have all occupied this Iron Age hill fort. The Saxons used the site as a stronghold against marauding Vikings. The Normans built a castle and a cathedral on the site. The cathedral was later replaced by the current cathedral in Salisbury. Plantagenet monarchs spent time in a palace built within the castle by King Henry I. Henry II’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was kept under house arrest at Old Sarum for having incited her sons to rebel against their father.

For history buffs there are three main physical points of interest at Old Sarum: the earthworks of the Iron Age hill fort, the inner stronghold of the Norman castle on the motte (raised earthwork) and the remains of the cathedral. In addition a visitor to Old Sarum can traverse 5,000 years of history through the graphic interpretation panels scattered throughout the site. The gift shop is worth a visit for those who want tokens of their visit.

Getting to Old Sarum is easy. It’s a short two-mile stroll from Salisbury to Old Sarum but public transportation is also available: buses 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 run every 15 minutes.

Old Sarum is an English Heritage site. It is not just a visit, it is an experience.

More Travel Tips:

Stonehenge and the Amesbury Archer Mystery
Glastonbury: Land of History, Myth and Legend


  1. This post might interest you:


    • Very interesting site. I loved the humor behind the funny little characters added to the stonework.


  2. I have been to Salisbury, but would love to visit Old Sarum. I will put this on my list for my next trip to England.


  3. I did not realize that I had such historical past. My ancestors came from England. I really must a visit to England and see what it is all about.


    • You should visit England and see if you can find some of your family and ancestors.


  4. Another name (place) added to my list!


    • There are so many places I’d like to visit that I’d have to reincarnated to see them all.


  5. I found your article on Old Sarum fascinating.


    • Kathleen, Sounds like you’re somewhat of a history buff like me.


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