Salisbury’s story began 2’500 years ago during the iron age when a fort was built on Salisbury Hill which lies about two miles north of the town center, the area was called Old Sarum. After a Saxon invasion of the area and a battle in 552 between the Celts and the Saxons, where the Celts were defeated, the fort lay abandoned. The early 11th Century saw a settlement established on the old fort and around 1069, William the Conqueror had a wooden castle built which over looked the settlement.
1217 saw the modern town of Salisbury start anew, when the Bishop, Richard Poore, moved his seat to new land further south of the hill and a new town was established with a street plan and a more structured order, but the Old Sarum, which was the original settlement continued for centuries.
The new Sarum or Salisbury was given a charter in 1227, the charter meant that the inhabitants now had certain rights. The town was also starting to become very successful. It has its own market and a yearly fair which meant people came from all over to trade and this brought in major income for the town. It was also on the route between Exeter, which was an important town in Medieval England, and London, which increased the numbers of people who came into Salisbury and spent money.
By the 15th Century, Salisbury had become one of the largest towns in England and had a huge trade in wool production however by 1700 there had been a decline in its size and over the next few centuries Salisbury’s fortunes rose and declined in the same way as many towns. Old Sarum was finally abolished in 1882 when it became a public park though the site is still evident today and is a visitor attraction site run by English Heritage.
The 20th Century saw Salisbury begin to grow again at quite a rapid pace with its main industry being farming still. Today however tourism drives the economy in Salisbury as its sits in a great location to visit some of the best sites in England such as Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Avebury, as well as having some very impressive tourist attractions within the town center.
The Cathedral in Salisbury has to be one of the most impressive Cathedral’s anywhere in the British Isles and the sheer size and scale of it can leave you breathless especially when placed in context with the size of Salisbury as a whole.
This stunning Anglican Cathedral has to be the most visited attraction in Salisbury and there is no disputing why this is the case. Firstly, it’s the size and how it imposes itself on the landscape with its elegance and magnitude. Built in a relatively small period of time, the main body of the Cathedral was completed in only 38 years, from 1220-1258. This has meant that the majority of the structure has an early English Gothic Style and so isn’t a confusing array of architectural styles that some buildings of this grandeur suffer from.
Secondly, Salisbury Cathedral is famed for some very notable reasons. The Spire has to be the main feature, standing at a huge 404 ft (123m) and adding a whopping 6,500 tonnes to the weight of the building when it was completed. You can climb the 332 steps to the top of the tower to enjoy the magnificent view that lies below. The Spire’s interior is hollow and so whilst inside you can view the ancient wooden scaffolding that still survives.
The amazing architecture of Salisbury Cathedral is only part of its appeal to visitors, for it is here that one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta lies and the one in Salisbury is the best preserved copy. It is displayed in the Chapter House of the Cathedral and can be viewed by visitors in a permanent interactive exhibition. As well as the Magna Carta, Salisbury Cathedral is also famed for having the oldest working clock, which dates back to 1386. This amazing piece of medieval time keeping, which has no face as is in keeping with this period in history, strikes on the hour to inform people of the time.
Finally, the Cathedral is also notable for having the largest Cloister and Cathedral Close in the UK, which sits at 80 acres. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the UK’s most iconic medieval buildings and draws people in to see it from all over the world. Mentioned in various works of literature, it was the inspiration for William Goulding’s classic novel The Spire, as well as being depicted by artists such as John Constable.
No visit to Salisbury would be complete without going to visit the Cathedral and even if you don’t go inside just sitting in the beautiful, tranquil Close is still an experience worth having.
Salisbury is the ideal location in which to visit Stonehenge from,as it lies just 8 miles away at Salisbury plain. This mesmerizing structure has been enthralling visitors for years and still no one knows exactly what its purpose was.Was it used as a crematorium, was it a site for sun worship or was it used as a site for Alien’s to land? Who knows for sure, the only thing that is certain is that standing looking at this giant prehistoric monument will give you goose bumps. Its one of those places that you just need to tick off your list of places to visit and it won’t disappoint you.
You can’t go right up to the stone circle unless you have a Stone Circle Access visit ticket, as it was cordoned off all the way around in 1977 due to serious erosion of the stones, but this in no way detracts from the experience in fact in some ways it gives you a better one, as you can view the monuments completely in isolation without having to dodge around people and so you view the stones
in their full glory.
A mile away there is now a brand new visitors center that will impart as much knowledge as we have about the area onto its visitors. Dating back archeologists believe to around 3000BC-2000BC, Stonehenge which is managed by English Heritage has been a Unesco World Heritage site since 1986. This famous ring of standing stones is Britain’s most mysterious monument and attracts visitors from all over the world. It is the place of pilgrimage for many people at the Summer and Winter solstice and Spring and Autumn equinox and is attracting more visitors now due to the discovery of another prehistoric site just a mile away at Durrington Wall’s standing stones.
Stonehenge has a wide selection of tours on offer so whether you want to go as part of a group tour or you would prefer to go solo there are many ways to see this amazing monument. It is a tourist attraction that does get busy so it is wise to plan your journey in advance so as not to be disappointed. If you want to go into the inner circle then this must be arranged through proper channels and there are plenty of tour operators who will do this.
This really is one of the places in the world that needs to be visited as pictures will never do it justice, it is a place of magic and wonder that will stay with you for a long time and although no real facts are known about Stonehenge as to its purpose or history, to many people when they have visited and stood looking at the stones, none of this matters, it is the whole experience of standing there looking at the stones, taking in the atmosphere and imagining that is important.
Salisbury Points of Interest – Final Words.
A trip to the stunning county of Wiltshire will give you plenty of opportunities to view some of the most amazing pre-historic sites in the world as well as being able to visit one of the prettiest and oldest cities in Britain.
Salisbury has so many stunning buildings and places of historic interest as well as sitting in breathtaking countryside. It is the place to visit for anybody who has a strong interest in history
and archeology or for anybody who loves being outside enjoying walks in beautiful scenery, Salisbury and its surrounding area has so much to offer its visitors and a magnetic pull that will have you wanting to revisit time after time.