Old 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: