Old Sarum: cathedral

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Old Sarum, cathedral © David Gill

The cathedral at Old Sarum was probably started under Bishop Hermann (d. 1078), when the see was moved from Sherborne (in 1075); much of the work was conducted by his successor Bishop Osmund (d. 1099). This structure was placed inside the outer walls of the castle (that follow the line of the Iron Age hillfort), and completed in 1092.

The cathedral was rebuilt by Bishop Roger (d. 1139) and expanded by Bishop Jocelin de Bohun (d. 1184). The foundations of the new Salisbury cathedral were laid in 1220 under Bishop Richard Poore (1217-28), and the remains of the first three bishops of Salisbury were moved from Old Sarum in June 1226. The old cathedral was then dismantled and the stone reused for the new building.

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Old Sarum, cathedral and castle © David Gill

Woodhenge Heritage Signs Stolen

Woodhenge

Ministry of Works plaques stolen from Woodhenge. Source: Historic England

HF has a keen interest in heritage signs especially those linked to the Ministry of Works. It has been reported that the Ministry of Works signs from Woodhenge, an early example of interpretative plaques, have been stolen.

Further details are available from Looting Matters.

Old Sarum and the Office of Works Guide

http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015027321523?urlappend=%3Bui=embed

The Official Guide to Old Sarum was issued by the Office of Works (Department of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings) in 1922 with 18 pages. The 1927 version has been digitised. (Price 6 d). The guide adopted the format of an introductory history, followed by a description of the key elements including the castle and the foundations of the first cathedral. The guide include foldout plans. Notice the advertisement for photographic film on the back cover.

The Story of Silbury Hill

(2010)

(2010)

I can first remember visiting Silbury Hill in the 1970s and it has featured on many a journey. I have just finished reading The Story of Silbury Hill by Jim Leary and David Field (Swindon: English Heritage, 2010) [ISBN 978-1-848020-46-7]. Cost £14.99.

I was so attracted by the story of a monument in its wider landscape. There are nine main chapters, each with beautiful photographs and illustrations. Those who are interested in the History of Archaeology (and Antiquarianism) will find much in chapter 2, ‘Kings, Druids and early investigations’. John Aubrey’s sketch of the hill captures its essence. William Stukeley’s series of drawings were made in 1723 and 1724. There is a review of the opening of a shaft in 1776, and the cutting of the Royal Archaeological Institute’s tunnel in 1849. The Hill was purchased by Sir John Lubbock in 1873.

Chapter 3, ‘Into the 20th century: Petrie, Atkinson and the BBC’, considers the impact of television coverage of archaeological excavations and the exploration by Richard Atkinson in 1967. The antiquarian searches and archaeological excavations caused instability in the mound and this is covered by chapter 4, ‘What do you mean, there’s a hole on the top of Silbury?’ There are some interesting comments about press coverage and ttransparency

All this work, as well as the urgent need to stabilise the mound, provided valuable information about how the mound was created (chapter 5). There are important comments about the prehistoric landscape as well as the insects and plants. This leads to ‘Making sense of the mound’ (chapter 6). Silbury is then considered in the wider and evolving landscape, ‘Land, stones and the development of monuments’ (chapter 7).

One of the unexpected chapters was a consideration of the Roman settlement that grew up at the foot of the hill (‘From small town to Sele-burh’, chapter 8). The Hill lies adjacent to the main Roman road running from London towards Bath. How would this prehistoric monument have been preceived by Roman viewers?

The final chapter, ‘The timekeeper’ (chapter 9), looks at the modern reception of the Hill. There is the observation, ‘The monuments serve a social and spiritual need’. Yet there are comments about the impact of heritage tourism on a Wiltshire village that nestles around and among these prehistoric monuments.

The mound incorporates the activities, the behaviour and performance of people, the building of banks, ditches and mounds; basketful after basketful of actions that provide a biography of the local inhabitants. It is as good as any family tree. We are all a part of that dialogue, and our actions form part of the same story.

This is a book that covers so many aspects of the recording, conserving, preserving, and interpreting of a major heritage site.

Walking Prehistoric Landscapes

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One of the joys of visiting Stonehenge and Avebury has been exploring the immediate vicinity of the stones. Now that the Stonehenge visitor centre has started to encourage visitors to see the structure in a wider setting, it is helpful to think about some of the ways of identifying walks and paths.

Wessex Archaeology produced Beyond Stonehenge subtitled A guide to Stonehenge and its prehistoric landscape (2nd ed. 1991). The sections are:

  • Before Stonehenge
  • The first Stonehenge
  • Stonehenge abandoned
  • The stones arrive
  • Fields and farms
  • The search for the past
  • Visitor information and guide map

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The National Trust produced a folder, Walking around Avebury (1997). The booklet part has sections on:

  • The south-western sector
  • The barber surgeon
  • The southern inner circle and other stones
  • The entrance stones and the ring stone
  • The view from the bank
  • The cover and the northern circle
  • The Swindon stone
  • John Aubrey (1626-1697)
  • William Stukeley (1687-1765)
  • Alexander Keiller (1889-1955)

Tucked into the pack are three separate leaflets:

  • The Ridgeway
  • Windmill Hill
  • Falkner’s Circle & West Kennet Avenue