ld Sarum's site has been used for thousands of years for one use or another. The Iron Age hill fort could have been built for defence to accommodate the whole community at times of attack. Several Roman roads appear to congregate around the Old Sarum area, but whether the Roman roads were built from scratch by the Romans or built upon earlier lines is open for debate. One thing of interest about the position of Old Sarum is its alignment with other ancient sites in the area, including the Clearbury Ring, the Charlton Clumps, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. In fact, they are all in a straight line . After the Norman Invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror used Old Sarum as a base of operations and to house part of his army. In 1070, once the country was generally under his control, William used Old Sarum as the setting for the important task of paying off his army with treasures taken from the defeated Anglo-Saxons. William's nephew, Osmund came over from Normandy and acted as William's chancellor and became bishop of Salisbury. Osmund had the first Cathedral at Old Sarum built, and it was completed in 1092. Unfortunately the cathedral suffered extensive damage in a storm. Osmund's successor, Roger, rebuilt and enlarged sections of the cathedral. A plan to move the cathedral to Salisbury was put forward to Richard I in 1194. The Old Sarum site had a limited water supply and moving the cathedral to the banks of the Avon was an improvement. In 1219, the move began and in 1220 the new site was consecrated. By 1250 the new cathedral had been built.


Old Sarum Key Facts
CountyWiltshire (6 castles)
Categories
RemainsSmall amount survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times


YearMonthEvent
1070   Castle at Old Sarum
 Using the prehistoric hill fort's defensive position to good use, the Normans built a new castle on the Old Sarum site. William the Conqueror paid off his soldiers here in this year.

Episode: Norman Conquest  
1072   Old Sarum Cathedral
 The first cathedral at Old Sarum was built between 1075 and 1092. Its builder was Bishop Osmund, who was supposed to be William the Conqueror's nephew. From 1072 until 1078, Osmund was William's Chancellor. In 1078 Osmund was given the title of Bishop of Salisbury.  
1075   Council of London
 At the Council of London Archbishop Lanfranc instigated the movement of many English Bishoprics to more important locations. One of these was the Bishopric of Sherborne and Wilton which moved to Old Sarum. 
1078   Osmond becomes Bishop at Old Sarum
 Osmond was a Norman who came to England with William the Conqueror. He exchanged his noble title for that of a religious one and became Bishop at Old Sarum after Herbert. Osmond continued the construction work of a new cathedral at Old Sarum. 
1086 Aug 1  Oath of Salisbury
 William the Conqueror called a meeting at Old Sarum where he invited his most important vassals and tenants-in-chief in England to swear allegiance to him. The oath is now known as the Oath of Salisbury.

Episode: Norman Conquest  
1092   Old Sarum Cathedral completed and dedicated
 The cathedral at Old Sarum was completed and dedicated to Blessed Virgin. The cathedral was damaged by a storm only five days after the dedication service and the roof destroyed. The location of the cathedral meant it exposed to the wind and the sermons were sometimes drowned out by the sound. 
1194   Plans to move Old Sarum cathedral
 Bishop Herbert Poore presented plans to move the cathedral at Old Sarum to a new site nearer the river to be called New Sarum, or now Salisbury. Richard I approved the plan. 
1217 Sep 12  Treaty of Kingston
 The defeat of the French fleet left Prince Louis without much hope of taking the English throne. William Marshall blockaded London from the sea and land and at Lambeth Louis accepted peace terms. Louis waived his claim to the throne of England and should have restored Normandy to Henry but did not. Louis was paid 10,000 marks to ensure he left the country as soon as possible. William Marshall pardoned all those who had supported Louis.

Episode: The First Barons' War  
1220   Salisbury Cathedral rebuilding started
 A new site 2 miles from the original site at Old Sarum was chosen for the new Salisbury Cathedral. For a Cathedral the building work was completed in a very short time and the building was consecrated in 1258 only 38 years later. 

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