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Britain’s Treasures

An Iron Age hillfort, a Roman then Saxon stronghold, a Norman powerbase and a corrupt parliamentary constituency, Old Sarum has enjoyed a sprawling history
ANCIENT LEGACY Millennia of activity makes this one of the country’s most important ancient sites


Legend states that when moving the cathedral from Old Sarum to what is now Salisbury, the bishop ordered an arrow be fired from the keep – and where it landed would be the site. The arrow struck a deer, who ran two miles to the banks of the Avon.

William the Conqueror had invaded England in 1066, killed a king and claimed the throne – now, he needed to stamp his authority. To that end, he ordered the blisteringly fast building of dozens of Norman castles around the country, and it made sense for one such ‘motteand-bailey’ to be erected on the site of a mighty Iron Age hillfort, in what is now Wiltshire. Its earth bank defences, strategic location and vastness made it almost impregnable.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of BBC History Revealed Magazine - October 2016
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The November 2016 issue of History Revealed.