Posted by: travelrat | August 22, 2008

Old Sarum

My post next week should, if it doesn’t rain on Sunday, be about the historical re-enactment at Old Sarum. So, I suppose, for those who may not be familiar, I’d better explain what Old Sarum is about.

It’s an ancient hill-fort just outside Salisbury, and was once the site of the city. Originally, it was an earthwork on top of a hill; maybe there was a wooden palisade around it, too, The Romans had a fort there, too; they called it Sorviodunum. But, it wasn’t until the Normans came in the 11th Century … William the Conqueror paid off his army here … that the stone structure, the remains of which can still be seen was built.

Outside the castle walls, but inside defensive outer ditch are the foundations of the original Salisbury Cathedral. The whole site is in the care of English Heritage, and the outer rampart of the castle can be visited freely at any time; indeed, many local residents use it for recreation and dog-walking. Otherwise, you only need to pay admission to enter the inner courtyard, or ‘bailey’, which is only open at prescribed hours.

Because of shortages of water, and some disagreement between the clergy and the castle’s garrison, the site was abandoned in the 13th Century, and the Cathedral built on its present location, the city growing up in a chequer pattern around it. Indeed, some claim Salisbury as the first planned city anywhere.

That’s a quick thumbnail sketch; for fuller, more authoritative information, I really recommend Edward Rutherfurd’s excellent book Sarum. It’s a work of fiction, but based on historical fact. Or, have a look at



The Roman matron in the picture? Well, when I photographed her on Wednesday, there was a bit too much anachronistic clutter in the background. So, I used digital techniques to cut her out, and ‘move’ her to the castle walls.

And, that’s the foundations of the old Salisbury Cathedral in the background,



  1. great blog

  2. Glad you like it, Candy!

    Hope you’ll stop by often.

  3. Can’t wait to read about the re-enactment. What fun!

  4. I’m looking forward to reading it, too.

  5. I’ve got some good pictures and (I hope) some good video. Hopefully, I’ll post the first of them on Wednesday. I do need to edit/clone/crop out the odd car/baseball cap/fat man with ice cream first, though!

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