Friday, October 26, 2007

Silbury Hill Found to be "Sterile"

"The dank chill tunnel slopes down through 4,400 years of history into the heart of a mystery. The ground is slippery underfoot with sodden chalk dug as the pyramids were rising in Egypt. Archaeologists have reached the core of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire - and still have no idea what the most enigmatic prehistoric monument in Europe was for.

They know now there is no burial chamber for a Celtic king, no treasure hoard, nothing but a shallow bed of gravel, over which three ever larger mounds were raised until 35m baskets of chalk later, the monument stood 40 metres high, dominating the surrounding landscape, the largest artificial hill in Europe...

What they have found is treasure only to archaeologists: blades of grass still green after almost 5,000 years from the turf sods which covered the original mound, evidence of a pit which may have been the earliest ritual activity on the site, the chalk boulders used to strengthen the heaps of chalk rubble, and a huge ditch which was carefully filled before the final phase was built. The most enigmatic find is sarsen stones, the same stone as in nearby Avebury and Stonehenge, carefully incorporated in every stage, some which would have taken two men to drag up to the very top of the mound.

The distinctive flat top of the hill has led to some of the wildest theories, that it was an observatory or a platform for ritual sacrifice. In fact it now appears to be comparatively modern, carved flat to take a massive timber Saxon or Norman building - one posthole was a metre in diameter - presumed to be a military lookout."