Old Sarum  Wiltshire


In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Old Sarum like this:

SARUM (Old), a quondam city and an extra-parochial tract in Alderbury district, Wilts. The city stood on alofty eminence, on the S border of Salisbury plain, nearlymidway between the rivers Avon and Bourn, and on Icknield-street, at a convergence of Roman roads from Winchester, Silchester, Speen, the Severn, and Dorchester, 2 miles N of Salisbury; occupied the site of the Roman station Sorbiodunum; was known to the Saxons as Searebyrig or Sarisbyrig, signifying "the dry town; "was taken from the Britons, in 552, by the Saxon king Cynric or Kenric; is supposed to have been re-fortified, with addition of outer entrenchment in 871, by Alfred; was the meeting-place of a wittenagemot of Edgar, in960, to concert a defence of England against the Danes; became the seat of a diocese in 1072, by removal to it of the see of Sherborne or Wilton; was the meeting-place of a great council in 1086, convoked by the Conquerorto establish the feudal system; had its cathedral completed and formally opened in 1092; was the meeting-place of a council of William Rufus in 1096; was visitedby Henry I. ...

in 1100, 1106, and 1116; was taken and damaged by the Empress Maud, in her wars with Stephen; was partly restored, and had a castle rebuilt, by Henry II.; began to decline at the removal of its see to Salisbury in 1220; continued, nevertheless, to be a resort of kings and a place of national councils down to the 15th century; sank afterwards into such desolation as not to have one inhabited house; sent two membersto parliament from the time of Edward I., and continued to send them till disfranchised by the reform act of 1832; is now represented by only remains of ditches and ramparts, enclosing an area of about 27½ acres; had suburbsextending beyonds these limits a considerable way downthe hill; presents now a dreary surface, partly under theplough, partly in a state of waste; and commands a very fine view over Salisbury plain and along the valley of theneighbouring rivers. The extra-parochial tract includes the quondam city, and bears the alternative name of Old Castle; but, in 1861, had only one house.

Old Sarum through time

Old Sarum is now part of Salisbury district. Click here for graphs and data of how Salisbury has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Old Sarum itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Old Sarum, in Salisbury and Wiltshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 13th June 2024

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