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Archaeologists discovered 12th century royal palace hidden under prehistoric fortress at Old Sarum

Dec 4, 2014 12:03 IST

Archaeologists from the University of Southampton on 3 December 2014 revealed their discovery of one of the largest medieval royal palace of 12th Century buried under the ground inside a vast prehistoric fortress in Old Sarum.

The research team of students and academics carried out a geophysical survey of the ancient monument. Their investigations revealed the layout of a settlement including structures from the late 11th century, contemporary with the construction of a cathedral and castle.

The palace was discovered while mapping a long-vanished medieval city Old Sarum which has lain under grass on the site for more than 700 years.

Techniques used for archeological excavation
• The team used a variety of techniques to examine the outer and inner bailey of the site. These included the use of topographic survey methods and geophysical survey techniques.
• These techniques comprised of magnetometry, earth resistance, ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electric resistivity tomography (ERT) survey.
• The archaeologists also used geophysical ground-penetrating ‘x-ray’ technology to map the long-vanished medieval city.

Background
The city Old Sarum was inhabited for over 300 years, but declined in the 13th century with the rise of New Sarum (Salisbury). Old Sarum was originally an Iron Age fort established around 400 BC and occupied by the Romans after the conquest of Britain in AD 43.

A castle, originally built of timber and later stone, was built after the Norman Conquest. By 1092 a cathedral had been constructed  with an extension added in 1130.

Eventually, a new cathedral was established during the 1220s in what is now modern day Salisbury marking the start of a gradual decline of Old Sarum.

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