Wiltshire is extraordinarily rich in prehistoric history. The stone age is represented by a number of flint and stone implements and Stonehenge, with its circles of giant stones.
Ancient strongholds are scattered over the county. Among the most remarkable are Vespasian's Camp, near Amesbury and Silbury Hill, the largest artificial mound in Europe, near Avebury. The English conquest of the district now known as Wiltshire began in 552 AD with the victory of Saxon Cynric over the native Britons at Old Sarum, by which the way was opened to Salisbury Plain. Wilton and Salisbury were destroyed by the Danish invaders under Sweyn I of Denmark in 1003, and in 1015 the district was harried by Canute.
During the wars of Stephen's reign, Salisbury, Devizes and Malmesbury were garrisoned by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, for the Empress, but in 1138 Stephen seized the bishop and captured Devizes Castle. In 1216 Marlborough Castle was surrendered to Louis by Hugh de Neville. Hubert de Burgh escaped in 1233 from Devizes Castle, where he had been imprisoned in the previous year.
In the Civil War of the 17th century Wiltshire actively supported the parliamentary cause, displaying a spirit of violent anti-Catholicism, and the efforts of the Marquess of Hertford and of Lord Seymour to raise a party for the king met with vigorous resistance from the inhabitants. The Royalists, however, made some progress in the early stage of the struggle, Marlborough being captured for the king in 1642, while in 1643 the forces of the Earl of Essex were routed by Charles I and Prince Rupert at Aldbourne. In the same year Sir William Waller, after failing to capture Devizes, was defeated in the Battle of Roundway Down nearby.
The castles of Wiltshire have been almost entirely swept away.