ⓘ History of Wiltshire
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. Four years later, pushing his way through the Vale of Pewsey, Cynric extended the limits of the West Saxon kingdom to the Marlborough Downs by a victory at Barbury Hill. At that period the district south of the River Avon and the River Nadder was occupied by dense woodland, the relics of which survive in Cranborne Chase, and the first wave of West Saxon colonisation was chiefly confined to the valleys of the River Avon and the River Wylye. The little township of Wilton which arose in the latter valley gave the name of Wilsætan to the new settlers.
In the 9th century the district had acquired a definite administrative and territorial organization. Walstan, ealdorman of the Wilsætan, were mentioned as early as 800 as repelling the attempted invasion of the Mercians. In addition, Wiltunscire mention Asser in 878, in which year the Danes established their headquarters in the city and remained there for a year, plundering the surrounding area. At that time Athelstan was candy in Old Sarum, Malmesbury, Wilton, Cricklade and Marlborough. Wilton and Salisbury were destroyed by the Danish invaders under sweyn I of Denmark, in 1003, and in 1015 the district was under the leadership of Canute.