Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Salisbury Plain

Salabieres, Salebieres, Salesbieres, Salesbires, Salisberi, Salisbery, Salisberye

Salisbury Plain is a vast, open chalk plateau in the southwestern part of England. It covers an area of about 300 square miles (780 square kilometers), located in Wiltshire.

In the chronicles, Salisbury Plain serves as the location of a battle between King Vortigern and Hengist’s Saxons. According to the Vulgate MerlinKing Pendragon and Uther fought a battle against the Saxons there, and Pendragon was killed.

In the Vulgate Morte Arthure, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, and Malory, Salisbury Plain is named as the site of the final battle between Arthur and Mordred, in which Mordred was killed and Arthur was mortally wounded. Arthur’s knights carried him off the field to the Ancient Chapel, from which he was taken to Avalon by Morgan le Fay. The chronicles place this battle at Camlann.

The area is probably best known for Stonehenge, which appears in the Arthurian legends as a memorial erected by Merlin on the instructions of Vortigern.

Salisbury Plain | 0 to 9th century AD

Roman Period | 1st – 4th century AD
During the Roman period, which began in the first century AD, Britain was part of the Roman Empire. The Romans established settlements, roads and infrastructure. Salisbury Plain’s strategic location made it suitable for military activities. The Romans likely used the plain for training and possibly as a location for military camps.

Late Roman Period | 4th century AD
In the fourth century, Roman authority in Britain began to decline. Roman legions were withdrawn to deal with threats elsewhere in the empire, and Romanized Britain faced internal and external challenges. During this period, there were incursions by Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic tribes, leading to increased unrest in the region.

Migration and Settlement | 5th – 6th century AD
The fifth century witnessed the arrival and settlement of Anglo-Saxon, Jutish, and possibly other Germanic tribes in Britain. This marked the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon period. The region underwent changes as Roman structures declined, and new socio-political structures emerged with the influence of incoming Germanic groups. Settlement patterns shifted, and the landscape began to reflect the presence of new communities.

Early Medieval Period | 7th – 9th century AD
During the seventh and eighth centuries, Christian missionaries played a role in converting the Anglo-Saxon population to Christianity. The spread of Christianity likely influenced the establishment of churches and religious communities on and around Salisbury Plain.

In the ninth century, Viking raids became a significant threat to coastal regions, and Salisbury Plain may have faced the impact of these raids.

The formation of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms occured during this time, and the region around Salisbury would have been part of larger political entities.

See also
Salisbury | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century
Vulgate Mort Artu | 1215-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Post-Vulgate Mort Artu | 1230-1240
The Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470