In AD 878 King Alfred's kingdom of Wessex - an area covering modern Dorset, Wiltshire and Shropshire - was the last Saxon kingdom holding out against Danish invaders. With the Danes seemingly in an unassailable position, Alfred rallied his west country troops at a place known as Egbert's Stone. The location of Egbert's Stone is unknown, but local legend suggests Kingsettle Hill in Wiltshire. Alfred then went on to fight the decisive battle of Edington twelve miles away from Kingsettle Hill. Against the odds he defeated the Danes, and then acted magnanimously towards their leader. This act of conciliation is seen by many historians as a major milestone on England's long road towards becoming a single country.
Today Kingsettle Hill is the site of King Alfred's Tower, a huge folly on the Stourhead estate. It was built by the Hoare family who made a fortune in banking in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. This was a time of great confidence for Britain, and it must have seemed the right time to build a massive folly commemorating one of the decisive moments in the country's history.
From the top there are wonderful views of Stourhead estate and surrounding countryside.
Coach route approaching King Alfred's Tower from the Stourhead estate.
Opening Times: Opening hours for National Trust properties can be complex. Please use contact details below.
Directions: From the B3092 take the Tower Road through Kilmington Common. Click here for an interactive road and satellite map centred on King Alfred's Tower, Wiltshire. Alternatively you can walk the coach path from the main Stourhead estate.
Address (For Stourhead): Stourhead Estate, Stourton, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 6QD.
Access: There is a grassy path approach to the Tower. A steep staircase leads to the top which can only be climbed by the able-bodied. Braille, large print and tactile guides of the Stourhead estate are available at Stourhead.
telephone: 01747 841152