Photogenic Landscapes and Historic Sites in Wiltshire




Old Sarum Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn Stonehenge Malmesbury Abbey
Wiltshire extends 50 miles north to south and 35 miles west to east, adjoining Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset. All the county has similar landscapes, of fields and woods; generally quite hilly, and split by several wide valleys, but with no particularly high land or overly dramatic natural features. Contained within are about half of the North Wessex Downs (the remainder is in Berkshire), a small part of the New Forest in the south, a narrow section of the Cotswolds in the north, most of Cranborne Chase and nearly all of Salisbury Plain. The latter two are extensive chalk plateaus - this rock underlies well over half of the county, part of a great exposure that stretches eastwards towards Dover, and is responsible for nearly all of Wiltshire's high ground. A number of slopes have been cut to create white chalk figures such as the horses at Chervil, Marlborough and Westbury. The county town of Wiltshire is Trowbridge; other major places include Swindon, Salisbury, Chippenham, Melksham and Devizes.

Wiltshire contains a reasonable variety of ancient places, spanning several millennia, though these are fewer in number than some adjacent counties, and is especially well known for its prehistoric and Neolithic sites. Most famous are Stonehenge and Avebury but there are dozens of lesser locations including burial mounds, ditches, hill forts, standing stones and pathways. The country has one cathedral (Salisbury), three ruined castles (Ludgershall, Old Sarum and Old Wardour), a dozen or more major stately homes - Longleat and Stourhead are the most visited - and a large number of old churches, though no ruined abbeys.


Castles



Ludgershall Castle - tower remains and low wall remnants, from a 12th century castle frequented by Henry III

Old Sarum - remains of a castle and abbey, within the confines of an Iron Age hill fort; the original settlement of Salisbury

Old Wardour Castle - substantial ruins of a fortified house, with an unusual, French-style, hexagonal layout; built at the end of the 14th century

Cathedrals

, and other major churches

Malmesbury Abbey - parish church occupying part of an older, much larger building

Salisbury Cathedral - one of the largest and most beautiful religious buildings of England, with the tallest spire in the country. Most of the cathedral was constructed in the 13th century

Other Historic Buildings



Bradford-on-Avon Tithe Barn - perfectly preserved 14th century barn, with an intricately constructed timber roof

Lacock Abbey - 13th century monastery, later convered to a mansion, retaining many original features

Prehistoric Sites



Avebury World Heritage Site - varied collection of ancient monuments including a burial chamber, the largest artificial hill in Europe (Silbury), a stone avenue, and the world's largest stone circle

Stonehenge - Britain's most famous prehistoric site; an imposing collection of huge stones placed around 2500 BC



Map of Featured Wiltshire Locations