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Sponsored by Salisbury Museum

A personal impression by Ann Howell


Well, it rained, but this did not dampen the happy atmosphere at the site. The site was  on farmland at the back of Broad Chalke. This was my first visit and I was very impressed how big and well organised the whole festival was, with helpful, welcoming staff.

By 4.55pm the huge tent was packed, the talk being at 5pm.

Adrian gave a short talk on the Museum and then Alex began. He is impressive, not least because he does not try to be so. His delivery was casual with not a single note in sight. His vast knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject was self-evident. Images were projected onto a very large screen at the front of the tent which could be seen clearly by everyone. He began by outlining what most of us already knew about Old Sarum. How William I built a motte and bailey castle on site in 1067 and then in August 1086 called all the Tenants-in-chief and landowners of any account to swear fealty to him against all men. This was a “monumental occasion”, Alex said, and asked the question – did William pick Old Sarum for this purpose on an ordinary hill fort or was it already an important site in Anglo Saxon times?  There is evidence to suggest that it was the latter.  The Romans built five roads leading from Old Sarum.  And in Anglo-Saxon times there was a cross roads leading to Mercia in the north, Wilton in the west, Winchester in the east and to the south the coast.  It was, in fact, an ideal  trading post and perhaps an administration centre?

He presented geophysical survey maps on screen which clearly showed evidence of activity beyond the moat on the Stratford-sub-Castle side.  There was a lot going on, “..but what?” he asked. His team will be attempting to find out in the next three weeks of digging in this area. We all wait with bated breath for the result.

If you have not heard Alex Langlands speak, please make every effort to do so. You will not be disappointed. He will be at Salisbury Museum on 22 July speaking on the same subject!