Underground medieval palace revealed by surface survey

Old-Sarum-ModelOld Sarum in Salisbury, the UK, is rich with history, dating back 5,000 years. During the Iron Age, it became the site of a hill fort, during the Roman occupation of Britain hundreds of years later, it became a military outpost and, during the Middle Ages, the site of a bustling city.

Although much of these ruins have been excavated over the years, there are sections that remained underground: the Inner and Outer Baileys of the ancient hillfort, where a city arose in the 11th Century, complete with a castle and cathedral — and stood for over 300 years, declining in the 13th century when New Sarum — Salisbury — rose, and the city relocated.

“Our survey shows where individual buildings are located and from this we can piece together a detailed picture of the urban plan within the city walls.”

Although the existence of this city was known, its layout was not — and now a number of surveys have revealed the network of buildings — including what was probably one of the largest royal palaces of the time.

“Archaeologists and historians have known for centuries that there was a medieval city at Old Sarum, but until now there has been no proper plan of the site,” said Kristian Strutt, Experimental Officer and Director of Archaeological Prospection Services at the University of Southampton.

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