Monday, March 4, 2013

A Trip to Old Sarum

After exploring Stonehenge, we decided to take advantage of our tour bus' optional stop at Old Sarum and hopped off, hoping to experience something a little more off the beaten path in Wiltshire County. Our lovely host Trish had recommended Old Sarum as an interesting site, and she was spot on. Unfortunately we hadn't tuned into the weather report that morning, or inspected the ominous clouds in the distance before bidding adieu to our transportation into Salisbury, and we were in for a wet surprise. 

The remains of the Motte-and-bailey castle defences.

The site of the earliest settlement in current day Salisbury, Old Sarum contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC and is now an English Heritage Site open to the public. While not a whole lot remains these days, Old Sarum was once an impressive Iron Age hill fort of high strategic value.The site was first  used by the Roman before being passed on to the Saxons and then the Normans. Under Norman control a large royal palace for King Henry I was built and stood as a royal residence during the 12th and 13th centuries. 

The ridge running around is covered in chalk

What remains of Old Sarum today is a castle motte, complete with part of the original stone walls and the remnants of the massive ditch surrounding the site.The foundations of many of the walls of the fort and castle, as well as the cathedral outside the castle walls, are still intact today and visitors are free to walk amongst the ruins.

The remains of the iron age fort and subsequent castle

After a short hike to the top, we were impressed by the seeming impenetrability of the fort. Even as it lay in ruins, nearly two thousand years since it was last inhabited, the enormous banks and ditches that surround the fort stand as evidence of it's once strategic military presence. The River Avon flows just a few hundred feet away, and the spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the distance.  

The remains of the old Cathedral at Old Sarum

We spent a good hour exploring the site and admiring the fantastic views. There were a good number of people going for walks along the Avon and playing football in the park nearby.As it looked like a nice day, we decided to take the popular walk from Old Sarum back to Salisbury...poor choice. The British winter crept up on us about halfway through the 30 minute walk and we were swept up in a torrential rainstorm not unlike the one we experienced in Kotor. Despite this minor wet setback, we ended up having a fabulous time visiting both Stonehenge and Old Sarum, and would definitely recommend a visit if you have the time. 

The view to town with Salisbury Cathedral - look at that inviting sky!

By Travis Huyghebaert with No comments

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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