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Monday, July 13, 2009

RETURN TO OLD SARUM

FORTIFICATION DITCH, OLD SARUM

May 28, after leaving Bath by train we arrived at Salisbury. Our intention (even before visiting Bath) was to head for the Iron Age hillfort at Old Sarum. We didn't regret our unexpected side-trip to Bath, however, and lingered there quite awhile before taking the train to our next destination. We got the hop-on-hop-off bus from the Salisbury station and set off for Old Sarum.

FORTRESS RUIN

This part of the trip, for me, was a renewal of some research for my W.I.P. novel "Dragons in the Sky: A Celtic Tale". As soon as I complete work on "Shadow of the Lion" I want to return to this beautiful first-person narrative that I'd set aside years ago in order to work on Alexander's story.

DRAGONS has a magic quality to it -- right from the beginning when I was searching for a setting for this story that was told to me by a Celtic girl, Olwen, in a voice that was almost as if I was channeling her. (Or maybe she was me in another lifetime.) I had gone to visit a friend in Bournemouth and then on to Stonehenge and later, while waiting in the bus station at Salisbury I'd noticed a sign that said "Old Sarum Iron Age Hillfort, 4 kms". I decided to walk there.

As I approached the earth mound where this ancient fort has once stood I had one of those dejas-vu moments where I actually could 'see' it all unfold as if I had actually been there before.
This, I knew, was the setting of my story about Olwen, the Druid's child.

I've made a couple of trips back to Old Sarum and made lots of notes, impressions, etc. But it's been some years now and I needed to refresh my mind and see if I could pick up any new 'vibes' at the site.

The times before I'd been alone, and this time I was with my sister and niece and as well there were other people on the hill. It was difficult for me to 'feel' anything, but I did take some video footage so I'd be able to refer to it later. I also discovered a part of the earth mound that I hadn't known was there on my first two visits. On top of the hill are the remains of the old fort.
This one would be at a much later date than Olwen's story, for DRAGONS is set in the 4th century B.C.

Old Sarum was developed in about 500 BC by Iron Age settlers and later occupied by Romans, Saxons and Normans. They built a castle and a royal palace and by the mid-12th century it was a busy town with a fine new cathedral Later a new settlement was made by the river, now known as Salisbury and Old Sarum was abandoned and fell into ruin.

After looking around and taking photos, we went back down to the road with the intention of hopping on the next bus to Stonehenge. Unfortunately we hopped on the wrong bus and then had to hop off and go back. No time for Stonehenge as we needed to get back to London to fetch our luggage and head for Cardiff.
VIEW OF SALISBURY FROM OLD SARUM MOUND


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