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SHERBORNE OLD CASTLE

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Sherborne Old Castle was built as a fortified bishop's palace and castle during the early 12th century on top of a natural knoll in the Yeo Valley. Its centre block of buildings were constructed of local stone, using a rubble core with Ham Hill ashlar facing. This was surrounded by a curtain wall and outer ditch. The central building survives as a partly upstanding ruin within the centre of the bailey. It dates from around 1130 AD, although the surviving remains also include at least three additional phases of construction. To the north of the great tower are the ruined remains of a 12th century range of two storeys, which formed the northern side of a small courtyard. This range contained chapels on each floor. Part excavation between 1932 and 1954 and between 1968 and 1978 have identified structural foundations and buried deposits. The area south east of the central building contains the foundations of the kitchen block whilst the foundations of a garderobe tower have been identified within the north west corner of the central building. The remains of a tiled floor were identified within the north eastern area of the Great Hall in the south range. The curtain walls have been largely reduced to ground level along the northern and western flanks, although the eastern end of the northern flank and part of the north eastern flank stand to a height of 8.4 metres. To the west of the site is a semi-hexagonal earthwork which is 25 metres in diameter and circa 1.5 metres in height. This represents the remains of a Civil War siegework. Sherborne Old Castle was constructed by Roger de Caen, Bishop of Sarum 1107-1139 and was altered and refurbished between 1185-87 and in 1592. The castle became a powerful Royalist base during the Civil War and in 1645 fell after a fierce 11 day siege. Much of the castle was subsequently demolished and left in ruin. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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