We were lucky enough at the museum to have Alex Langlands speaking twice last month on the Old Sarum Landscape Project. He gave a talk for Volunteers on 18 July to nearly one hundred, and again over the Festival of Archaeology weekend to possibly 50 or more members of the public. This blogger went to both talks and hung on every word!
The Project took off in 2014, a re-evaluation of the nature and extent of the archaeology of Old Sarum and its environs, with a focus on Roman, Saxon and medieval phases. A video of Alex Langlands talking about the project in 2017 is available here. Part of this season’s work (a collaboration between the University of Southampton and the University of Swansea) involved an investigation of the western suburb of Old Sarum. There was what was described as “a fair settlement” in a 16th century document, and early maps show buildings at ‘Newton Westgate’ (new town by west gate!). It looks as if there was a small but busy ‘town’ both sides of what is now Phillips Lane, and in the area of Stratford Road, probably serving the old Cathedral and the clergy at Old Sarum. An area to the east of Old Sarum has been better excavated but little is so far known about this western development.
These days, archaeologists often rely largely on archive material (such as the 16th c document and old maps mentioned above) and on non-intrusive surveys (eg field walking and magnetic surveys, sometimes known as ‘geophys’!) However they still like to excavate, if necessary, and given the chance, even though, ultimately of course, digging is destructive. Excavation has revealed medieval and earlier, Roman, building and 10th – 13th century pottery.
Surveying at the beginning of the season – remember a chilly wet spring?
Surveying at the site continuing
Excavations below the outer walls of Old Sarum
Some of the finds – a lot of pottery always indicates domestic buildings
(all photos above from the Old Sarum Landscape Project facebook page. Video is from the Stratford sub Castle village website.)
Salisbury Museum PAS volunteer Alix Smith assists the excavation by using a metal detector over the spoil heaps, to see if anything has been missed.