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Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill

I've only been here in the early spring and winter before - never mid-summer - so the path was very overgrown.  This is Silbury Hill - just along the path, in someone's farmland.  No markers.  No signs.  I absolutely love that about this area so much.   It's all Neolithic around here.  Vestiges of life from the stone age litter the area like so much memory.  

Here is a little information about the site from the English Heritage webpage:

Silbury Hill is probably the world's largest man-made prehistoric mound. It is one of the most intriguing sites in the prehistoric landscape of the World Heritage Site, especially as we do not know its purpose or meaning.  The first construction at Silbury was a low mound of gravel. Later, a series of layers of soil, mud and grass turves were added. Several pits were dug into the mound and it may have been edged by stakes.

At present, it is known only that Silbury was built in the late Neolithic around 2,400 BC. It stands at 30 metres high and 160 metres wide, and its construction is estimated to have involved roughly 4 million man-hours of work. 500,000 tonnes of material were used; mostly chalk, quarried and cleared from the surrounding terraces and ditches. The enduring presence of Silbury Hill in the landscape has inspired myths and legends as people have sought to explain its purpose. In one such legend, Silbury is the burial mound of a mythical King Zel and his horse. The mound is also associated with pagan beliefs and earth mysteries. Later, construction continued in chalk and clay, which was piled around the mound, sometimes in small banks. The mound was surrounded by a ditch with an internal bank.

No one knows why Silbury Hill was built, but we do know that it was during a time of great change in the prehistory of Britain, with new forms of pottery and the first metal-working. Silbury Hill was not conceived as one monument, but was gradually built up over time to form the monument visible today.  It must have been a special place in prehistory, where people gathered for events and episodes of building.

Roman and medieval use
A recent geophysical survey has shown that this monument was later at the centre of a Roman settlement, straddling the nearby A4. In the medieval period, the top of Silbury was probably flattened and a building, possibly defensive, was constructed on the summit. The full story of its astonishing archaeology is still unravelling thanks to the recent consolidation works on the hill. 

©Jennifer Bailey 2013 Silbury Hill, England

©Jennifer Bailey 2013 Silbury Hill, England

Sources
Whittle, A 1997. 'Sacred mound, holy rings: Silbury Hill and the West Kennet palisade enclosures', Oxford: Oxbow Books

Further down the path...

Further down the path...

Oh, England...

Oh, England...