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Old Sarum Castle (Salisbury)
Member Name: Ophelia
Old Sarum Castle (Salisbury)
Date: 07/11/01, updated on 07/11/01 (246 review reads)
Advantages: History, events
Not only is Old Sarum Castle a place of historic interest in its own right but throughout the year it holds numerous English Heritage events, which bring history to life and make a great day out.
Old Sarum Castle is an earthwork near Salisbury, which was built in approximately 500 BC, in the Iron Age. In later years a castle and palace were built within the earthwork and in 1226, as with many castles a city began to spring up around the castle, then called New Sarum and now known as Salisbury.
The Castle is now mainly ruins but if you visit you can see the earthwork, parts of the pre-historic fortress and buildings from the Norman period. On a lonely winter’s afternoon if you stand high up on the banks of the earthwork and look out across the plain feeling the wind sweep across from Salisbury, you can almost feel the history beneath your feet.
Each year the English Heritage puts on an astounding array of events at the Castle. This year there has been an American Civil War Battle, Mediaeval jousting tournament, a display by Viking warriors and also some more spectacular events; one Saturday each year they have a day of ‘Sarum through the Ages’ where your family can happily spend the entire day watching various entertainments. In the inner bailey of the Castle there are living encampments of the people who would have lived at Sarum in various periods of its history; you can watch them carrying out day to day tasks and ask them questions about their lives. In the main arena throughout the day there are various battle re-enactments from different eras; a Roman army, a Napoleonic battle, a world war two skirmish. There is so much to see and do that it can quite easily keep you and your family entertained all day.
Another major event each year is the Roman Day. Here you can see Roman battle tactics demonstrated, pagan burials, medical techniques, traditional burials and, f
or the more blood-thirsty, gladiatorial combat – a chance to cheer your hero on and decide whether mercy should be shown to the losing combatant (predictably the audience normally wants to see a death, and you will not be disappointed!). Possibly not for the faint hearted! However, for the young and young at heart, there was also a display of Boudicca’s fight against the Romans enacted by a terrifying army of vegetables. Children are allowed to get involved and they have to hold up the various characters when prompted at certain points in the tale. Boudicca is constructed from a leek, runner beans for arms and her wild hair made from the leek’s roots. The Iceni tribe are the most amusing as a whole row of spring onions with little faces drawn on them. Strange? Indeed, but also educational and extremely entertaining.
Entrance to these events normally cost around £6.00 for adults and £4.00 for children. However, English Heritage members are given entrance free of charge and details follow below of how to obtain membership, which if you go to a couple of events a year, as well as visiting other Heritage sights, is very good value indeed.
2 miles north of Salisbury off the A345.
Open April – Sept: 10 am – 6 pm
Oct: 10 am – 5 pm
Nov – Mar: 10 am – 4 pm
Standard admission prices without events: adults: £2.00, children: £1.00.
Tel: 01722 335398
Membership fees: adult: £28 per annum, family: £49.50 per annum.
Details from: English Heritage, Membership Department, PO Box 570, Swindon, SN2 2YR, email: email@example.com or tel: 0870 333 1181.
So, enjoy a peaceful day out with an atmosphere imbued with the richness of our heritage, or attend an event and fill your day with excitement and education.