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Historic England Research Records

Old Sarum

Hob Uid: 1474280
Location :
Wiltshire
Salisbury
Grid Ref : SU1378432699
Summary : Old Sarum is a multi-period site situated about 3 km from Salisbury, at the west end of a westward facing chalk spur overlooking the River Avon. The site comprises of a multivallate Iron Age hillfort, evidence for Romano-British occupation, evidence of a Saxon burh and mint, a Norman royal motte and bailey castle, a cathedral and bishop's palace and later castle structures (see associated monument records). The hillfort is roughly oval in plan and measures a maximum of 580 metres by 460 metres. The defences include an internal bank, a substantial steep sided ditch up to 30 metres wide and an outer bank. Excavations within the hillfort revealed evidence of an early Iron Age settlement and later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation. Old Sarum is the focus for a number of major Roman roads and the Roman town of Sorviodunum is thought to lie within the hillfort but there is no substantial evidence to support this. By 1004 AD, coins of Ethelred were being minted at Old Sarum and, by the mid-11th century, documentary evidence attest to the establishment of a Saxon buhr, Seresberie. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD, a royal motte and bailey castle was built within the hillfort. The defences of the hillfort were adapted to become the outer bailey and a mound over 100 metres in diameter was constructed. The inner bailey now contains the ruins of a series of stone buildings dating from about 1100 AD to the 13th century including the Great Tower, Postern Tower, Royal Palace, Herlewin's Tower and the New Hall. The Norman town was established in the south western quadrant of the outer bailey and there was an ecclesiastical precinct to the north east. This included a cathedral, first built in 1078 and rebuilt from 1130, and a bishop's palace. The cathedral was dissolved in 1226, after the bishopric moved to Salisbury, and in 1322 the castle was demolished. By 1514, Old Sarum had been completely abandoned and appeared as a 'romantic ruin' in paintings of the 19th century.
More information : Old Sarum is a multi-period site situated about 3 km from Salisbury, at the west end of a westward facing chalk spur overlooking the River Avon. The site comprises of a multivallate Iron Age hillfort, evidence for Romano-British occupation, evidence of a Saxon burh and mint, a Norman royal motte and bailey castle, a cathedral and bishop's palace and later castle structures (see associated monument records). The hillfort is roughly oval in plan and measures a maximum of 580 metres by 460 metres. The defences include an internal bank, a substantial steep sided ditch up to 30 metres wide and an outer bank. Excavations within the hillfort revealed evidence of an early Iron Age settlement and later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation. Old Sarum is the focus for a number of major Roman roads and the Roman town of Sorviodunum is thought to lie within the hillfort but there is no substantial evidence to support this. By 1004 AD, coins of Ethelred were being minted at Old Sarum and, by the mid-11th century, documentary evidence attest to the establishment of a Saxon buhr, Seresberie. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD, a royal motte and bailey castle was built within the hillfort. The defences of the hillfort were adapted to become the outer bailey and a mound over 100 metres in diameter was constructed. The inner bailey now contains the ruins of a series of stone buildings dating from about 1100 AD to the 13th century including the Great Tower, Postern Tower, Royal Palace, Herlewin's Tower and the New Hall. The Norman town was established in the south western quadrant of the outer bailey and there was an ecclesiastical precinct to the north east. This included a cathedral, first built in 1078 and rebuilt from 1130, and a bishop's palace. The cathedral was dissolved in 1226, after the bishopric moved to Salisbury, and in 1322 the castle was demolished. By 1514, Old Sarum had been completely abandoned and appeared as a 'romantic ruin' in paintings of the 19th century. (1-5)

William the Conqueror paid off his army at Old Sarum in 1070, and in 1086 summoned all the great landowners of England to swear an oath of loyalty. A Norman castle was built on the inner mound, and joined soon afterwards by a royal palace. By the middle of the 12th century a new town occupied much of the great earthwork, complete with a noble new Norman cathedral, the mother church of a huge diocese. (5)

From 1360 the largely uninhabited site continued to 'elect' two MPs, becoming the most notorious of the 'Rotten Boroughs' swept away by the 1832 Reform Act. (5)

The castle, cathedral and other ecclesiatical buildings were excavated between 1909 and 1915 by Sir William St John Hope, Lieutenant-Colonel William Hawley and D. H. Montgomerie for the Society of Antiquaries of London. Further excavations were carried out by J. Musty and P. A. Rahtz in the 1950s. (1-2)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 03-Jul-97
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Source Number : 2
Source : Old Sarum
Source details : McNeill, J. 2006. English Heritage Guidebook.
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Source Number : 3
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 2008
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Source Number : 4
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : SALISBURY, 12-OCT-1972
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Source Number : 5
Source : English Heritage Members' and Visitors' handbook 2008/9
Source details :
Page(s) : 108
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age hillfort
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort, Multivallate Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman settlement possibly before 300 AD
Monument End Date : 300
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Settlement
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval CHURCH
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Church
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval Mint
Monument End Date : 1004
Monument Start Date : 1004
Monument Type : Mint
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Saxon Burh
Monument End Date : 1032
Monument Start Date : 800
Monument Type : Burh
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : USE AFTER 1066
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Castle, Settlement
Evidence : Earthwork, Ruined Building, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : built 1078-1092
Monument End Date : 1092
Monument Start Date : 1078
Monument Type : Cathedral, Cathedral Close, College Of Secular Priests
Evidence : Structure, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : dating to 1102-1139
Monument End Date : 1139
Monument Start Date : 1102
Monument Type : Bishops Palace
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : built after 1130 AD
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1130
Monument Type : Cathedral, Cloister, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Structure, Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 297
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 318843
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26715
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 4117/14
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 4117/15
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 4117/17
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 13 SW 220
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 218530
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1197078
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1197111
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 660752
Relationship type :

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