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Old Sarum Landscapes Project (OSLP)

Old Sarum and the landscape around it, is the subject of a research project [1] undertaken by the Archaeology Department at the University of Southampton that began in the spring of 2014. Since then a team made up of undergraduates accompanied by University Staff has spent several weeks each year in and around Stratford sub Castle and Old Sarum (with the exception of 2020 and 2021 due to Coronavirus restrictions). Post-covid, the Project Team returned in 2022 and 2023.

DOM & Kris.jpg

(L-R) Dominic Barker with Dr Kris Strutt, Project Director, University of Southampton


Dr Alex Langlands,
University of Swansea.

Volunteers from the local community have been included in the geophysics and excavations. Children from Stratford sub Castle school have toured trenches and the archaeologists have visited the school and given talks to community groups. 

Images of surveying, excavation, and of some of the 'finds' uncovered in Stratford sub Castle, are here:
                     Images prior to 2022      Fieldwork 2022 images


Links to reports are at the bottom of this webpage.


The Project Team studied LIDAR image data [2] made available by the Environment Agency. Subsequent on-site visits focussed  on promising 'areas of interest' identified in those images, allowing on-site investigations to be carried out in the most efficient way. 

LIDAR image published here with the permission of the Environment Agency and the University of Southampton.

Old sarum LIDAR image.JPG

In the autumn of 2014, news was released to press agencies to announce what early results from the scanning techniques had uncovered.

"Experts have produced a detailed plan of Old Sarum without any digging at the site. The latest scanning techniques have uncovered a network of buildings at the 11th century hillfort, once a thriving medieval city. Residential areas have been identified and there is evidence of industrial features such as kilns or furnaces.


The university's director of archaeological prospection services Kristian Strutt said 'Archaeologists and historians have known for centuries that there was a medieval city at Old Sarum but until now there has been no proper plan within the city walls. Our research so far has shown how the entire outer bailey of the monument was heavily built-up in the middle ages, representing a substanial urban centre.'" [3]

Since that 2014 announcement, residents of Stratford sub Castle have been keen to learn more about what has been discovered so close to our village. The 'Friends of St Lawrence Church' arranged for  speakers to come to packed venues in March 2015, in May 2017, October 2018 and October 2022 , so that later research findings and their historical context could be explained.

In 2016, the University of Southampton encouraged local residents and archaeological groups to take a more active part in the OSLP and a study day was held at the University in January 2017. In April 2017, when the students extended their investigations to include the fields between Old Sarum and Stratford sub Castle, several local volunteers took part in the geophysics surveying. 

Up to this point, all of the work had been non-intrusive to the landscape. In July 2017, the Summer School activities included some limited excavations revealing quantities of medieval pottery and some debris from WW2 when troops were stationed nearby. Alex Langlands from the University of Swansea also took part.


The OSLP Team returned to Stratford sub Castle in April and July 2018 to carry out more geophysical work and further excavations.


In April 2019 the team returned to begin surveying near The Portway. There was a Summer School for 3 weeks during July 2019.  There's a link to the report of this visit by Kris Strutt & Dominic Barker, below.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021, the usual springtime geophysics and summer Field Schools did not take place.


The Team returned to Stratford sub Castle on 27 June 2022 for 3 weeks of fieldwork. Three trenches were opened between Stratford Road and Old Sarum and geophysics (magnetometry) took place in Hudson's Field.  

In 2023 geophys was carried out in the fields to the north-west of Old Sarum and within the boundaries of the Old Sarum monument. Details in our News article.

[1]  Source - University of Southampton

[2]  Light detection and ranging - Wikipedia explanation

[3]  Source - The Journal December 11, 2014

Alex Langlands recorded a short video about the Old Sarum Landscapes Project in 2017 for 'Visit Wiltshire'.  Click the image (right) to view.

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