Silbury Hill

Notes on BBC TV programme.

Q: how accurate is modern carbon dating?

Weird, more regularly shaped than the others in the area.

Tallest manmade hill in Europe. 4 million man hours.

Collapsing due to past archeological digs.

Comtemporary with great pyramids in Egypt, late neolicthic.

120 feet tall, covers 5 acres - hand built.

Kennet Valley, old Roman road (now A4) runs passed.

Chalk and earth construction.

Strange: Emphemeral lives / solid monuments. 180 generations ago.

last 300 years suffered from treasure seekers and archeological digs

1776 Duke of Northumberland made a vertical dig. Golden statue rumours. Colonel Drax helped?

1849 (Aubery) and 1968 (Atkinson and BBC2) - side tunnels. No burial / no treasure. Not properly backfilled.

2001 hole filled with poly blocks. Tunnels now being filled with locally sourced chalk.

No written records of course.

Core mound is soil rich - small scale gravel mound. Added to continuously... it grew. The turfs don't seem to come from the local area. People bringing material from their homes to build the hill - making it personal. Picemeal rather than a grand project. But, social glue - binding people together.

Contemporary with West Kennet long barrow being filled in and sealed and beaker burials imported from Europe. Burials with goods - body on it's side in crouched position - sleep, being reborn or sitting postion.

Silbury is happening at the dawn of a new era. Britain joins the bronze (copper / tin) age. Equiv of Industrial revolution. Tools, weapons, personal adornment. Impact profound. Craftsmen held in high esteem. Epic construction starts.

Competitive building projects? Coertion, devotion (reverance) or obligation (social , political, or religious). Not astronomical, not origonally defensive.

Very few people allowed onto hill - a clean site. No signs of mass living nearby.

William Stukley original analyst. Petrie (egytologist) excavated. Artifacts were lost (considered insignificant at the time).

Roman coins and pottery. More than a Roman roadside tavern - rather a small Roman town. Why? Bath road - pilgrimage route. Significant area to the Romans - then the Saxons. 11th century, Saxon, fortification. Battle in East Kennet in 1006 (AngloSaxon cronicles).

Latest rcd data - started 2400 BC (+/- a generation)

Silbury 1 and 2 almost certainly contructed consecutively. Silbury 3 maybe The last grasp of an autocratic regime. the final monument in the landscape. Social / industrial / religious time of change.

 

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