Inside Silbury Hill
Is Silbury Hill your favourite?
Silbury Hill - Facts and Figures
It's 4,400 years old and the biggest in Europe... So who made it? and why?
It's the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe, stands over 40 metres (130 feet) tall, and is hard to miss in the Neolithic landscape around Avebury.
Boasting a foot print circumference of over 500m (1640 feet), and a bulk volume of nearly 340,000 cubic metres (12 million cubic feet), work first began on the mound back in 2660 BC. Built piecemeal, the mound is thought to have grown through several 'small construction events' before being finished off with a mound of chalk quarried from the surrounding ditch.
Although the summit of the hill may have originally been more domed shaped it is thought that it was truncated at a later date, during the Saxon or Norman periods, to give it the distinctive pudding basin shape we see today.
It's also thought that the series of medieval postholes and arrowheads, unearthed on Silbury's flat top, suggest that the mound may have been recruited as a lookout post or signal station.
Despite a few modifications, over it's 4,400 years, the biggest change to the look of Silbury occurred in 2000 when the ancient monument began to collapse and a hole appeared at the top of the mound.
But eight years, and £1.66 million, on and the prehistoric mound has not only been repacked with chalk and sealed but stabilised for the future.
Horse Burial and Devil's Doings
Nobody knows for sure why Silbury was constructed, although there are plenty of theories and ideas.
Folklore has it that the mound was placed there by the Devil who was intent on dropping a pile of earth on the good people of Marlborough (or Devizes, depending on who you talk to) but was persuaded to lose his load as a result of some Avebury-style hocus-pocus!
Others believe the Devil chose to hide a gold statue inside the mound whilst on his way to Devizes.
Earth worshippers believe that Silbury is, in fact, the swollen womb of the Earth Goddess and provides a symbol linking the harvest with the pregnant earth.
Others suggest that the hill was built as a burial mound for King Sil and his horse, whilst some believe it to be a giant astronomical 'sun' dial.
Ley Lines and the A4
It's also interesting to note that Silbury lies on a significant leyline that runs through the church at Avebury, through Silbury and on towards Stonehenge.
The Romans who laid down the road, that now makes up the A4, followed the ancient prehistoric trackways that led towards Silbury which some believe were constructed on identifiable leylines.
It has also been suggested that similar mounds exist in China on routes constructed on similar lines of earth energy.
last updated: 08/05/2008 at 11:26
Have Your Say
Burlington: Wiltshire's Secret Underground City