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Old Sarum

Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, England, with evidence of human habitation from 300 BC. It is on a hill about 3 km (2 mi) north of modern Salisbury.

Old Sarum was initially a hill fort strategically situated on the conjunction of two trade routes and the river Avon. The Romans established a camp here named Sorviodonum. Cynric, king of Wessex, was said to have captured the place in 552.

After the Norman Conquest, the town was renamed Salisberie after the earl who received the area. He built a wooden castle with a ditch, in 1067 started on a cathedral, completed it in 1092 (it burned down 5 days later), and in 1100 built a stone keep. A replacement cathedral was completed in 1190.

But space ran out on the hilltop, with cathedral and castle cheek by jowl, and clashing frequently, and so in 1219 the bishop started a new cathedral to the south, on the banks of the river. A new settlement grew up around this, called New Sarum, and eventually the name of Salisbury was used only for the new town. Old Sarum was slowly abandoned and fell into ruin. Not much is still standing there, but visitors may easily trace the outlines of the old castle and cathedral.

Old Sarum's long history makes it a popular location for historical reenactments.

(need a cool aerial photo here please)



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