Inside Silbury Hill

Recently, archaeologists have reentered Silbury Hill as part of the works to stabilise it following the poor reconstruction work following the BBC excavations in the 1960's and other earlier mining operations.

Katy Whitaker reported to members of an archaeological mailing list:

'It was truly truly amazing. On a cool, clear autumnal Wiltshire evening I found myself with seven others walking into Silbury Hill, where in truth no-one should ever have gone, and being blown away by the beautiful stratigraphy. Between them the Duke of Northumberland, Dean Merryweather and Professor Atkinson had butchered the small gravel mound of Silbury I, but there's enough of its following turf layers to get good C14 dates and soil/mineral analysis to look into the origin of this material. I so love the idea of people bringing turves from around and about - perhaps quite far afield - and placing them on the mound.

Atkinson backfilled only the third of the tunnel nearest the entrance - and that was only with road stone and not even to the tunnel roof. Similarly the Duke's shaft was never properly filled and Dean Merryweather did no backfilling at all. So the whole centre of the hill has been empty for years and years. No wonder so much chalk from Silbury II fell in. The voids worked their way in this manner up to the top of Silbury II, where organic deposits suggest that at least 15 years passed for a certain grass to colonise. The C14 will hopefully clear up whether Silbury II was left for a short or a long time before being covered with Silbury III.

Having spent about an hour inside the hill (hard hats, Hi-Vis and rescue tins) we were ushered out to find one of our gentle rising mists starting to wreath the pillowy fields about us. The moon lit our way home.'

BBC NEWS | In Pictures | In pictures: Inside Silbury Hill


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