11th century city plans of Old Sarum revealed by archaeologists
Archaeologists have used state-of-the-art technology to create a detailed plan of an 11th century medieval city without digging at the site.
A team of academics from the University of Southampton have used techniques such as magnetometry, earth resistance, ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) in order to uncover new information about Old Sarum, near Salisbury in Wiltshire.
Old Sarum was originally an Iron Age fort, established around 400 BC and occupied by Romans after AD 43. The site combines a royal castle and a cathedral within an Iron Age fortification. It was a major centre of both secular and ecclesiastical government for around 150 years.
By examining the site, archaeologists have discovered structures which have lain buried beneath the grass for over 700 years. Discoveries include a network of constructions, large structures thought to be defences, and a large building suspected of being a royal palace. The building is 170m long by 65m wide, surrounds a courtyard, and includes a 60m room which could be a great hall.
Director general of the Royal Armouries Dr Edward Impey commented: “The location, design and size of the courtyarded complex strongly suggest that it was a palace, probably a royal one. The prime candidate for constructing it is perhaps Henry I, sometime in the early 12th century.”
Experts say if it is a royal palace it would be one of the largest medieval royal palaces ever discovered.
The team aim to complete their work looking at the inner and outer baileys, as well as surveying a Romano-British settlement to the south of Old Sarum, by Easter 2015.