In Salisbury, Old and Much Older

After a difficult drive along crowded coastal highways made more challenging by the frequent (and challenging) appearance of roundabouts, we came to Salisbury. And I, at least, came for the cathedral. The church spire dominates that plain on which the city sits, and we glimpsed the spire briefly about 3 miles outside the city. The cathedral itself is most remarkable because it has not been hemmed in by surrounding urban development. Late afternoon, we wandered into the church and remained for the beginning of Evensong. I can still be caught up by the plaintiff voices of a choir chanting in a cavernous nave.


We stayed in a B&B about a mile north of the city, and as usual, the next morning I took an early morning walk. After half a mile, I stumbled across a different landmark of Salisbury, one I hadn’t known of—Old Sarum. A slight hill overlooks the plain; this hill had been the site of a Stone Age village, a Celtic fort, taken over by the Romans and later by the Saxons. William the Conqueror also realized that controlling the hilltop made strategic sense, rebuilding and expanding the fort. The first church in the area, Old Sarum, was sited here. As the Normans assumed greater control of the area, they moved off the isolated hill top and developed what became the city of Salisbury. And they built a new church.

The old settlement drifted into ruins, and today, the hillside shows only remnants of the Norman development.


The hilltop offers a commanding view of its surroundings.


On the early morning walk, before the mist burned off,  I could just make out the chathedral spire (the sharp point about a third of the way in from the left). That’s a flock of sheep in the middle distance.


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