Saturday, October 26, 2019

Silbury Hill

Standing 30 metres tall and 160 metres wide, it has been estimated that it took 4 million hours and half a million tonnes of chalk to build Silbury Hill. It is another record-breaker; the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe, constructed around 2,470-2,350BC.

It’s astonishing to stand beside it, though bizarre to simply find it lurking in a field and beyond a basic gate. Many theories abound as to the uses of the hill, which at one time was surrounded by ditches as the reconstruction drawing below indicates. No, one conclusion has yet been drawn as to what happened at Silbury Hill and this gives it an air of elusiveness. You can ‘feel’ its secrets hovering around you like invisible spirits as you stand and gawp at the enormity of it.

woman versus mound

You cannot climb it for it is fenced off from the public, but it is possible to stand within a couple of metres of the base. There is a fairly visible spiral ridge climbing up around the hill, similar to the Tor at Glastonbury, though on a smaller scale. My companions and I wondered whether it had once been possible to walk clockwise up the hill to perhaps an altar raised on the top. With so many burial mounds in the surrounding area, could it have been an access platform to become closer to sky gods during funerary rituals? We shall never know.

A reconstruction drawing showing Silbury Hill under construction, surrounded by a massive ditch
© Historic England (illustration by Judith Dobie)

Later that day we drove on to the village of Avebury…


E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.