The location was chosen for a settlement because of the abundance of water. The city's origins go back to the Iron Age. The Romans called it "Sorviodunum". There was a battle between the West Saxons and the Britons here, after which the place was called "Searoburh". The Normans built a castle and called it "Searesbyrig" or "Seresberi". By 1086, in the Domesday Book, it was called "Salesberie". The site of the castle is now known as Old Sarum. Old Sarum was a rotten borough that was abolished as at the time, one MP represented three households. The bury element is a form of borough, which has cognates in words and place names throughout the Germanic languages.
Archaeological remains of rough stone tools suggest people have occupied the hilltop area of Old Sarum since Neolithic times (around 3000 BC).
There is evidence that early hunters and, later, farming communities occupied the site. A protective hill fort was constructed by the local inhabitants during the Iron Age (around 500 BC) by creating enormous banks and ditches surrounding the hill.
The Romans, who occupied Britain between 43 AD and 410 AD, held the site as a military station, strategically placed near the convergence of five important roads. The hill fort was marked on Roman roadmaps by the name of Sorviodunum. The name is believed to be derived from the Celtic name for 'the fortress by a gentle river'.
Following the Roman occupation, Cynric King of Wessex, was said to have captured the place in 552. Under the Saxons it ranked among the most considerable towns of the West Kingdom, and it gained ecclesiastical establishments soon after the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity
In the early part of the 9th Century it was a frequent residence of Egbert of Wessex, and in 960 King Edgar assembled a national council there to plan a defence against the Danes in the north.
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