Ancient underground palace unearthed

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IT’S a medieval city dating back to the 12th century that was once a bustling hive of activity, and was home to an ancient hill fort and military outpost.

But there’s a lot more to Old Sarum than meets the eye.

While much of the ruins of the city, located in Salisbury, UK, have already been explored over recent years, just what lay beneath has remained a mystery — until now.

Researchers from the University of Southampton have made an exciting discovery at the site, unearthing a previously unknown network of underground buildings, CNETreported.

They were able to create a detailed plan of the entire city using the latest scanning techniques (x-ray scans capable of penetrating the ground), which revealed a series of huge structures and open areas of ground likely to have been used for mustering people or resources underground.

But the most impressive finding was a huge 170 metre by 65m wide complex with multistorey buildings, a tower, large columns and 3m thick walls.

It’s believed to have been a massive palace.

“The location, design and size of the courtyard complex strongly suggests that it was a palace, probably a royal one,” Dr Edward Impey, Director-General of the Royal Armouries said of the discovery. “The prime candidate for constructing it is perhaps Henry I sometime in the early 12th Century.”

Kristian Strutt from the Archaeological Prospection Services at the University of Southampton said of the finding: “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 of the site.

“Our survey shows where individual buildings are located and from this we can piece together a detailed picture of the urban plan within the city walls.”

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