Old Sarum: The Abandoned Hill With Two Members Of Parliament (Video)
The story of Old Sarum in Wiltshire, England, reveals the fascinating past of an ancient windswept hilltop. This site, with its Iron Age hillfort and castle built for William the Conqueror, held great historical importance over two millennia. However, the harsh conditions atop the hill, with limited water supply and exposed to harsh weather, led to its decline as a sustainable settlement. A notable twist in this historical narrative is the curious presence of two representatives in Parliament for Old Sarum, despite its dwindling population and abandoned state. These representatives were nominated by wealthy landowners, and the practice was part of the controversial "rotten borough" system, where influential individuals secured parliamentary seats, often representing only themselves.
The eventual demise of this unfair system came in the 19th century, driven by public outrage and calls for reform. The process to reshape parliamentary boundaries and expand voting rights was arduous but eventually led to a more representative and democratic system. Old Sarum, now managed by English Heritage, stands as a reminder of the challenges faced in convincing those in power to relinquish it and the enduring impact of historical events on shaping modern society.
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Top image: Aerial view of Old Sarum in England. Source: Alexey Fedorenko / Adobe Stock.