We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Nice walk!”
Review of Old Sarum

Old Sarum
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Small-Group Day Trip to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Avebury from London
Ranked #5 of 74 things to do in Salisbury
Certificate of Excellence
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Nice walk!”
Reviewed October 21, 2012

My family and I went for a walk in Old Sarum this afternoon, great place to go! Make sure you visit it if you go to Salisbury!

Visited October 2012
Thank JessicaCLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,179 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Denver, CO
Level 6 Contributor
80 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Hilltop fortress”
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Not much is left of this hilltop fortress. It was interesting to see what lengths medieval rulers went to stay safe. But what really was phenomenal was the view from the hilltop. Beautiful views of Salisbury & the catherdral. On a warm sunny afternoon, it was a beautiful outing to walk around Old Sarum.

Visited September 2012
Thank Rugbyjello
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seaside, California
Level 6 Contributor
137 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Don't Miss”
Reviewed October 14, 2012

If you are on the hop on and off Stonehenge bus, don't miss hopping off at Old Sarum. Iron Age site where Saxons, Romans and Normans all had their time. Run by the English Heritage Trust, this is a wonderful site with tremendous history and killer views of Salisbury ("New" Sarum). Great place for a picnic, too, although the winds were 35 mph the day we were there. The staff provided excellent information for the visit. Old Sarum topped Stonehenge in our book.

Visited September 2012
Thank SuzC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belfast, NI
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Bigger & better than I remember”
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Well, it's over 20 years since I last visited Old Sarum, but it was better than I remembered. We got a great guided tour which helped to explain the history of the site and bring it to life. If you like your history/archaeology, don't miss it. Or if you want a good place to walk the dog or fly a kite, then Old Sarum is a nice place to go.

Visited September 2012
Thank MacD22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Devizes, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
340 reviews
198 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 789 helpful votes
“The site of the very first Salisbury cathedral”
Reviewed October 14, 2012

Old Sarum is located north of the city. It boasts a chequered past, beginning circa 3,000 BC, when it was merely a chalk hilltop used for seasonal gatherings and regarded with reverence by the local Neolithic peoples. Evidence suggests that around 1,500 BC it had been abandoned, although the hill was surrounded by burial mounds of local chieftains.

During the Iron Age, circa 400BC, the local Celtic people, renowned for their inter-tribal rivalry, repopulated the site and created a powerful hill fort to protect the surrounding farmland. A new gatehouse was constructed, which, although it would always be the weakest point of the fortifications, enabled them to express their identity in such ways as impaling the heads of captured rival tribesmen to ward off future attacks.

Massive earthworks were built during this period, consisting of an outer ditch 100 yards in diameter and 20 feet deep and the remodelling of the inner defences, presenting a formidable obstacle to any would-be invader. During this time the fort was known as Dun Sorvia.

When the Romans arrived, Sorvodunum, as they called it, expanded south to the River Avon, and the development of their military post saw a town flourish alongside the fortress. There was also an important road junction here that the Romans realised made this site of great strategic wealth.

After the Romans departed, it became a Saxon royal estate. By 552 AD, Britain was no longer part of the Roman Empire, and the British were heavily defeated by the Saxons at Old Sarum, which they renamed Searobyrg. In 1003, a marauding Viking army sacked nearby Wilton and the locals sought refuge at Old Sarum. Wilton’s market and Royal Mint were also moved here for safety.

By the time of William the Conqueror, who decided to reconstruct much of the fortifications in stone, Old Sarum already had endured a turbulent history.

William recognised the site for what it was – the great scale of the outer defences made it an ideal arena in which to muster his troops, and in August 1086, he summoned all of England’s most powerful landowners to Old Sarum to pledge their allegiance to him. This was a crucial moment – the Domesday Book was being compiled, a full scale Viking invasion had been narrowly averted, and William’s eldest son was in armed rebellion against him. It was never more important for the Norman King of England to be seen in all his majesty.

But all things change; the cathedral that had been built on the site, just outside the main walls, was struck by lightning very shortly after it’s completion in the late 12th century. Although a new cathedral was quickly built to replace it, the position of the Old Sarum site meant that a constant water supply was difficult to maintain for the burgeoning population, and a decision was taken to build a new cathedral in the nearby town of Salisbury, close to the river. Within months, the site was deserted and left to the elements.

Visited June 2012
Thank GBfromDevizes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Old Sarum also viewed

Wilton, Salisbury
Salisbury, Wiltshire

Been to Old Sarum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing