Saturday, June 20, 2009

Old Sarum & Pillars of The Earth

This week we watched a fantastic episode of the English "Time Team" at Salisbury Cathedral. The Team was there in October 2008 and were digging right at the footings of the Cathedral.

'The Team opened a trench right next to the Cathedral to uncover the Beauchamp Chapel, built for one of Salisbury's most colourful Bishops, Richard Beauchamp but demolished hundreds of years ago. A trench was also opened up to explore the site north of the Cathedral where the original Bell Tower and spire once stood, also now long since disappeared.

Following their usual action-packed three day schedule the team digging the Beauchamp Chapel trench uncovered a mystery skeleton, as well as other finds which help shed light on the Cathedral in Beauchamp's time and the actions of subsequent generations. There was disappointment though as the Bishop's own tomb was discovered and found to be empty - robbed centuries ago with the Bishop's bones probably moved to the Cathedral's main Nave in 1789.' - Salisbury

Time Team at Salisbury Cathedral

About twenty years ago I borrowed a book, "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. I really became engrossed in this historical novel about Old Sarum, the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, the building of a cathedral, the beginning of Gothic architecture, the loves, the losses.

Ken Follett says: 'When I started writing, back in the early Seventies, I found I had no vocabulary for describing buildings. I read a couple of books on architecture and developed an interest in cathedrals. I became a bit of a train spotter on the subject. I would go to a town, like Lincoln or Winchester, check into a hotel and spend a couple of days looking around the cathedral and learning about it. Before too long, it occurred to me to channel this enthusiasm into a novel.'

In November 2007 The Pillars of the Earth was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the 60th Oprah's Book Club selection and is #1 on the The New York Times trade paperback list and #8 on its mass market paperback list (9th December 2008).

The Pillars of the Earth is one of the '101 Books to Read Before You Die' chosen by patrons of Exclusive Books - it is 27th on the list and is one of the top 100 books chosen by British readers.

Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows - John Constable, 1831

The landscape around Salisbury was captured by the artist John Constable in several paintings.
I now have my own copy of Pillars and look forward to reading it again.


I_am_Tulsa said...

I love the painting! I love history too. I can't believe I loathed it when I was a student! I think it might have had to do with all the dates to memorize...
I haven't read the Pillars of the Earth or (obviously) the follow up World Without End. This is the first time I am actually tempted to read it! You have more power over me than Oprah! lol

Oh, and no worries about how you reply! It's all like a natural/real conversation! (I have to be careful what I write at night...I get all mushy! Which means, I better say toodles now!)

have a great weekend!

Alaine said...

I love Constable's work. I always had good grades in history but we didn't have enough books at hand to learn more of the World. Today, we are swamped with books; I never know where to start in the Library - usually head for the Bios.

Well, I've just spent a couple of hours in the garden. Now to do some work on DMJ's website.

I suppose you're just waking up, Tulsa. Have a lovely Sunday.

vicki archer said...

I am embarrassed to say I have not read this but after reading your post will make it a must do...thank you, xv.