The history and archaeology of Salisbury Plain is famous. Stone Age man began to settle on the plain in the Neolithic period , most likely around the causewayed enclosure of Robin Hood's Ball.
Long barrows and other earthworks were built across the plain and by 2500 BC areas around Stonehenge and Durrington Walls become the focus for building, and the southern part of the plain continued to be settled into the Bronze Age.
About 600 BC Iron Age Hill forts were being constructed around the boundaries of the plain, this included Scratchbury Camp and Battlesbury Camp in the south west, Bratton Camp in the north west, Casterley Camp in the north, Yarnbury and Vespasian's Camp in the south, and Sidbury Hill to the east.
Roman roads are a visible feature and probably served a settlement near Old Sarum. Villas are sparse, however, and Anglo-Saxon place names suggest that the plain was mostly a grain-producing imperial estate.
In the sixth century Anglo-Saxon settlers had built settlements in the valleys surrounded by strip lynchets (1), with the downland left as sheep pasture. South of the plain is the city of Salisbury, wher the 13th and 14th century cathedral is famous for having the tallest spire in the country. For many centuries, the tallest building in Britain. The cathedral is a sign of the prosperity the wool and cloth trade brought to the area. Around the midddle of the 19th century the wool and cloth industry went into decline, leading to a decline in the population and change in land use from sheep farming to agriculture and military use. Wiltshire became one of the poorest counties in England during this period of decline.
There are a number of chalk carvings on the plain, of which the most famous is the Westbury White Horse. The Kennet and Avon Canal was constructed to the north of the plain, through the Vale of Pewsey.
(1) A lynchet is a bank of earth that builds up on the downslope of a field ploughed over a long period of time. The disturbed soil slips down the hillside to create a positive lynchet while the area reduced in level becomes a negative lynchet. They are also referred to as strip lynchets.
View across the plain from the A360
Another view across Salisbury Plain