Unlike the other counties of Wessex, Wiltshire has no coastal boundaries. To the southwest is Dorset with Hampshire to the southeast. Somerset is to the west. Gloucestershire to the north with the tip of Oxfordshire jutting in between there and Berkshire which is on the eastern boundary.

Formerly an agricultural county its economy is diverse today. Besides agriculture, the army inhabit Salisbury Plain and Swindon and Malmesbury are home to national and international manufacturing companies.

The county's name was originally Wiltonshire, the county town being Wilton. Nowadays the county town is Trowbridge to the west.

The Town Bridge in Trowbridge

The Town Bridge in Trowbridge
Photograph © Ruth Riddle

Trowbridge, the county town. Is situated in the west side of the county, about 12 miles from Bath in Somerset. The name possibly derives from a hamlet of Trowle or it could be an even older name treow-brycg which means Tree Bridge.

The Kennet and Avon canal to the north was responsible for some development of the town as coal could be brought from the Somerset coalfields easily. In the 1800's the town was referred to as “The Manchester of the West” as it had over 2,000 woollen mills.

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Wilton is not far from Salisbury. At one time Wilton was the county town. The town was famous for its carpets and a factory still exists. Being close to Salisbury Plain the area is significant to the army.

Wilton House Gardens are open to the public and well worth a day out.

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This is probably Wiltshire's most well known city - the only city in Wiltshire.

Salisbury from Old Sarum

Salisbury in the valley below Old Sarum
Photograph © L Temple

The city is located in a valley where five rivers meet.

Salisbury Cathedral of St Mary recently celebrated the 750th anniversary of its consecration. Its spire, the tallest in the UK, was painted by John Constable in several landscape paintings. The west front is magnificent. There are only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta and one is in the Chapter House of the Cathedral. The city is old and there are the inevitable ghosts, Ghost tours can be made.

Salisbury International Arts Festival is held in late May. Music, Film, Literature, Art, Dance and even spectacular free outdoor events - all are represented in a feature packed programme.

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Folk in the county are nicknamed Moonrakers. Smuggling was a profitable business if the Excise Men could be kept at bay. The story goes that one day in order to ruffle the surface of a pond to hide the booty in there from the Excise Men, the smugglers took rakes and pretended they were raking in a large round cheese. The cheese was in fact the reflection of the moon in the pond. The Excise Men decided the men were mad and went away.

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Pictured on this website's banner, is probably the county's most well known feature. A prehistoric site and one of the most famous in the world. Large standing stones are surrounded by earthworks and it is of the Neolithic and Bronze Age eras. Burial grounds have also been found. The age of the monument is still being researched, but it is said to be at least 5000 years old. The site itself while being owned by the Crown is run by English Heritage and the National Trust own the surrounding land.

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An even older, but contemporary, prehistoric site and like Stonehenge a UNESCO World Heritage site, is Avebury Ring, close to Avebury village. Neolithic, it is one of the largest such sites in Europe. The site consists of several circles of standing stones with a massive ditch and external bank. It is run by the National Trust.

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Swindon while situated in Wiltshire is in fact a Unitary Authority and so does not concern the Wiltshire authorities. Many national and international companies are in Swindon and the town was named an “Expanded Town”. With this and the many industries in the area, Swindon is developing fast. The Museum of the Great Western Railway celebrates the Steam era of railways and Swindon's major role.

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Mere is a small, active, attractive town on the Wiltshire and Dorset border in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Nearby is Stourton, whose pretty church has a monument to Henry Hoare II born in 1705 and died in 1785. The Hoare family owned Stourhead before the Stourton family and the Mere's and it went back again to the Hoare's. They gave the property to the National Trust in 1946, but still retain some rooms. Stourhead is a world famous Palladian mansion and landscape garden of the 1700's and open to the public. Views are stunning.

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Wiltshire with its rolling open countryside of Salisbury Plain, small attractive villages, busy market towns, really magnificent stately homes, ancient standing stones, Salisbury Cathedral and so much more, it is a county that should not be missed.

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Other pages that may be of interest

Events in Wiltshire

Family History in Southwest England


Famous People of Wessex




Isle of Wight


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Return from Wiltshire to Home

Or perhaps you would like to browse some more, please do. There are navigation buttons above on the left for your pleasure.

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Wiltshire Melksham1

Licensed under Creative Commons Licence

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Useful Information

Events in Wiltshire

There are plenty of events throughout the year in Wiltshire. Short breaks centred around these events can be quite an idea!

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Generally plentiful in Wiltshire, but during busy periods and events it is advisable to book.

Salisbury is the largest place and makes an ideal spot for visiting the ancient sites at Stonehenge and Avebury.

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Things change. Always check out the external links for the latest information.

These are just helpful suggestions only.

There is only one affiliate link, SBI.

Travel Wessex is a Guide.

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This is a developing map. Some areas have better coverage.

To find the nearest Electric Vehicle Charging Point please click here.

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Public Transport

National Express

If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express. They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.

Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!

Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!

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National Rail Journey Planner.

For train journeys all over the United Kingdom connecting the places you want to go efficiently and quickly.

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Traveline is a very useful resource for public transport throughout Wessex, even local buses. In fact all over the United Kingdom.

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Wiltshire Wilton House Wilton

Wilton House Wilton

Wiltshire Stourton


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