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Old Sarum City Defences

In the civil parish of Salisbury.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU138327
Latitude 51.09284° Longitude -1.80647°

Old Sarum City Defences has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A Saxon burh situated on the site of the Iron Age hillfort at Old Sarum. Documentary sources refer to the burh being refortified during the 9th century but this has not yet been established in an archaeological context. As yet, there has been little archaeological evidence of a settlement within the defences except the finds of coins of Athelstan and Edgar. There is documentary references to a church established within the burh by the end of the Saxon period. The burh was used as an 'emergency burh' (Haslem 1984) during the early 11th century because of conflicts with the Danes. This may have resulted in the reconstruction of the defences. Archaeological excavations have identified several post-Roman defensive phases, but these could not be identified with this event due to the lack of dating evidence. Conflicts with the Danes may have been the reason for the move of moneyers from Wilton to Old Sarum in 1003 AD. A mint was in operation by 1004 AD. The continued presence of the moneyers at Old Sarum during the 11th century suggests some of the royal administrative functions centred at Wilton had been transferred here. Haslem states that any supporting settlement would have been small, situated within the defences. By the 1086 AD Domesday survey, the area of the hillfort and burh were under royal and ecclesicastical ownership leading to the building of the cathedral and castle. Settlement dating from the late 11th century has been identified from excavations outside the east gate of the defences. This settlement developed as a direct result of construction of the castle and cathedral and subsequently declined from the early 13th century due to the development of New Sarum. (PastScape)

Basically intact remains of Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon earthen and stone defences reutilized by medieval town. It is though the medieval town market was south of the cathedral with most houses focused on that.
See Castle record for further details and bibliography.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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