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SILBURY HILL

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A large late Neolithic mound that stands to a height of nearly 40 metres with a diameter of about 168 metres, which is surrounded by a ditch. It is situated on the western side of the Kennet valley in close proximity to other monuments that were clearly of great significance in the Neolithic period. A series of excavations and investigations have occurred at the hill including work by the Duke of Northumberland in 1776-77; J. Merewether in 1849; J. Fergusson in 1867; A.C. Pass in 1886; W. M. F. Petrie in 1922; and R. J. C. Atkinson from 1968 to 1970. These include a series of tunnels and shafts dug into the side or top of the hill in an attempt to reveal its mysteries. Atkinson proposed that the hill was built in 3 phases; the first stage being a turf mound, which was covered by a chalk mound and in turn enlarged to form the present day mound. He claimed that it was built in tiers resembling a stepped conical pyramid. In May 2000, the centre of the hill collapsed in on itself after falling into a shaft of 1776. Several surveys were subsequently undertaken by English Heritage and a conservation project commenced. This included a major effort to consolidate the structure and back-fill Atkinson's tunnel with chalk in 2007. This work showed that there were originally many phases of construction to the mound. Analysis also showed that some of the turf forming the hill had been trampled and mixed with chalk. Survey work suggested that the mound was not terraced but may have in-fact spiralled down from the top. Furthermore it was not circular but each level was a polyhedron with a number of straight sides, possibly as many as nine at the base. The turf at the centre was extremely well preserved and is believed to have been constructed within a century of 2400 BC. The outer layer may have been constructed as late as 2000 BC. The hill is believed to have had a range of later uses including the presence of a late Saxon or Norman military structure.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting NMR Enquiry and Research Services , through the English Heritage website.