Old Sarum

Once  Old Sarum was a major centre of government but all that remains today are the great earth banks and ruined remains of the former buildings.

Uniquely, it combines evidence for a royal castle and cathedral within in a massive Iron Age fortification. During the century and a half when its castle and cathedral coexisted, Old Sarum was a major centre of government.

The earliest fortification was probably raised around 400 BC. Following the arrival of the Romans, Old Sarum begins to feature in recorded history as Sorviodunum, and it was intermittently occupied during the Middle Ages, when its formidable defences became an advantage during the Danish wars of the early 11th century.

However ; it was William the Conqueror’s decision in about 1070 to build a castle in the middle of the old earthworks that was to transform the site. He effectively divided the old hillfort in two, creating an inner set of fortifications which became home to a complex of towers, halls and apartments, and a huge outer enclosure or bailey. The hillfort was also chosen as the site for the new cathedral, and under Old Sarum’s most powerful and influential bishop, Roger (1102-39), both castle and cathedral were rebuilt on a grand scale.

Yet neither castle nor cathedral remained occupied for long. In 1220 the cathedral was moved to Salisbury, in the valley below, and only a handful of people continued to live within the castle or ramparts beyond about 1400. Old Sarum lived on, however, and as a notorious ‘rotten borough’ it continued to elect members of parliament until 1832.*

Old Sarum

Old Sarum

Standing on top of the earthworks provides an excellent view of Salisbury Cathedral formerly known as New Sarum.

Old Sarum

* Introduction to the English Heritage Old Sarum guidebook

17 Comments CherryPie on Oct 21st 2014

17 Responses to “Old Sarum”

  1. james higham says:

    Last one in particular is stunning.

  2. I’ve always loved the Salisbury area, so thanks for this reminder of home.

  3. lisl says:

    So the new Cathedral was within easy striking distance of the old, Cherie

  4. Ginnie says:

    I bet a writer could concoct a good story sitting amongst those ruins, Cherry!

  5. Helena McElhinney says:

    Hi! Thank you for your message.

    I love your new website, it’s beautiful and amazing.

    You asked how I am-
    Well first, it’s our first wedding anniv. this Saturday and it doesn’t seem possible!

    Recently I had an op’ to have my gallbladder removed, and the op’ went wrong. I had another surgery the next day to try to fix things. Now my liver readings are all wrong. I had another test yesterday and fingers crossed they will be normal soon. It’s hard to know what to eat in the meantime!

    I am on Facebook but not posting, but Bob T Bear has a page there too, and keeps up with his friends that way :) also means i have something fun to do when I am low. It’s been a tough year for us both so the low times have been around again, but I’m trying to really fight them.

    Hope you are ok! I shall go and explore more of your site now because it’s so interesting!


    • CherryPie says:

      Oooh Happy Wedding anniversary to the two of you :-)

      I am so sorry about your op, how awful for you. I hope your health gets back to normal very soon. I am wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery xx

      Thank you for your kind words about me blog :-)

  6. ubermouth says:

    I thought the original Sarum was near London ? It was ages since I read(and didn’t finish) that book. Were there ant gibbets in Sarum?

    It’s amazing that the footprint still stands after being vulnerable to the elements for hundreds of years,isn’t it?

    Lovely photos,as usual.Glad to see you’re up and running again!

  7. ubermouth says:

    LOL @ “ant” gibbets! I meant ‘any’. :)

    • CherryPie says:

      I didn’t notice any old (or even ant ;-) ) gibbets in Sarum. I think the cathedral part was covered over at one time. I didn’t go down to inspect that part. There was no need, it could be seen easily from above.

  8. J_on_tour says:

    You have brought a group of stones and a story to life.