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TIMELINE: Salisbury

by Darcy Lewis

Ca. 3100 BC: Work begins on Stonehenge.

Ca. 2500 BC - 2000 BC: Stonehenge's standing stones are erected.

Ca. 1600 BC: The last-known construction at Stonehenge occurs.

Ca. 55 BC: The Romans call Old Sarum "Sorbiodunum."

Ca. 500: Cerdic, founder of the West Saxon kingdom, fixes his seat of power in Old Sarum.

552: Saxons and Celts fight a battle at Salisbury Hill. The defeated Celts flee westward.

1003: Survivors of a Viking raid on nearby Wilton found a new settlement on Salisbury Hill. The new town has a mint and a market.

Ca. 1069: William the Conqueror builds a wooden castle overlooking the settlement.

1075-1092: Bishop Osmund builds Old Sarum's first cathedral. A larger building is built on the same site around 1120.

1220: The city of New Sarum, now known as Salisbury, is founded. Bishop Richard Poore begins building the present cathedral the same year.

1227: King Henry III grants the Bishop of Salisbury charters for holding regular fairs and markets. They have continued virtually uninterrupted to the present day.

1239: The name "Sarum" appears on the seal of Saint Nicholas Hospital, Salisbury, one of its first known uses.

1244: A stone bridge is built across the River Avon, dramatically increasing traffic flow through Salisbury.

1258: Construction on Salisbury Cathedral is completed.

1295: Old Sarum begins sending two members to Parliament, a practice that continues until the Reform Act of 1832.

1334: The cathedral's tower and spire are added. According to Encylopaedia Britannica, it has the highest spire in England at 404 feet (123 metres).

1386: Salisbury Cathedral's large mechanical clock, the oldest surviving clock of its type in Britain, is installed.

1483: Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, is beheaded in Salisbury. The Debenhams department store, built on the execution site, is said to be haunted by his ghost today.

1538: King Henry VIII closed the Franciscan and Dominican friaries in Salisbury.

1563: Salisbury suffers an outbreak of the plague.

1612: Salisbury receives a new charter, making it completely independent of the bishop.

1604 and 1627: The plague returns to Salisbury.

1640: Antiquarian John Aubrey makes the first academic effort to survey and understand Stonehenge, ultimately -- and erroneously -- declaring it to be the work of Druids. Aubrey also contributes the first measured drawings of the site, from which he demonstrated an astronomical or calendrical role in the stones' placement.

October, 1644: A Royalist army occupies Salisbury. In December 1644, a Parliamentary army attacks, defeating the Royalists. In January 1645, another Royalist army attacks and drives out the Parliamentary troops. Salisbury remains under Royalist control until January 1645, when the beleaguered Charles I withdraws his troops from Salisbury to fight elsewhere.

1655: A Royalist uprising in Salisbury is quickly crushed. Seven conspriators are hanged, while others are transported to the West Indies.

1715: Salisbury's first newspaper begins publication.

1723, 1752: Salisbury suffers outbreaks of smallpox.

1737: An Act of Parliament forms a body of men with powers to pave, clean and light the streets of Salisbury with oil lamps. They also appoint a force of night watchmen.

1782-1791: James Wyatt leads an unfortunate restoration of the cathedral, destroying many stained-glass windows that had survived the Reformation. He also removed two chapels and a belfry.

1832: The Reform Act dissolves 'rotten boroughs' like Old Sarum, which had elected two members of parliament since 1295 despite long periods during which there were no residents.

1833: Gas street lights arrive in Salisbury, followed by a modern police force in 1836 and the railroad in 1847.

1849: Salisbury suffers an outbreak of cholera in which 192 people die. In the early 1850s, the town fathers order underground sewers to be dug.

1860: Salisbury Museum is founded.

1882: Old Sarum becomes a public park.

1900: William Gowland undertakes the first extensive work at Stonehenge, establishing that antler picks had been used to dig the stone holes and that the stones themselves had been shaped on site.

1908: Salisbury receives its first cinema.

1918: Stonehenge's last private owner, Sir Cecil Chubb, donates the site to the government.

1919-1926: The Office of Works funds an extensive excavation at Stonehenge, led by Lieutenant-Colonel William Hawley and Robert S. Newall. The two men are the first to establish that it was a multi-phase site.

1965: The Beatles perform on Salisbury Plain with Stonehenge visible in the background in their film "Help!"

1972-1984: The Stonehenge Free Festival, a New Age-type event, is held to commemorate the Summer solstice.

1978: Ropes are erected around the stones of Stonehenge to protect the site, greatly altering visitors' experience.

1985: After a violent confrontation between police and revelers, English Heritage and the National Trust close Stonehenge to Summer solstice visitors.

1986: UNESCO names Stonehenge and its surroundings a World Heritage Site.

1990: Salisbury names Saintes in France a sister city.

2000: English Heritage and the National Trust allow limited Summer solstice visitation to resume at Stonehenge.

2004: Local pub The Haunch of Venison "loses" its famous mummified hand, supposedly severed from its owner's body during a game of cards. The hand later reappears under mysterious circumstances.

January 30th 2007: Archaeologists uncover what may have been a village for workers or festival-goers near Stonehenge. They now speculate that Stonehenge may have been a cemetery for the people who lived in the village.


Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral stained glass

Related Articles:

Old Sarum: A Layer Cake of History, by Moira Allen

Salisbury: Designed to In-Spire! by Moira Allen

The Eternal Mystery of Stonehenge, by Pearl Harris

Stonehenge: The Giants' Dance, by Sue Kendrick

Darcy Lewis is an award-winning freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Writer's Digest, HGTV Ideas, Home, and the Chicago Tribune, among many other publications. Much of Darcy's knowledge of British history can be traced to her work as a history major specializing in pre-modern England at Brown University in Providence, RI. But her passion has deeper roots: Darcy's English mother, who is an endless treasure trove of stories about "how we do things at Home."
Article © 2007 Darcy Lewis
Photos © 2003 by Moira Allen


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