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My grandfather purchased Silbury Hill, introduced the first legislation to protect ancient monuments, and placed the hill under permanent guardianship. As owner of the site, I am concerned by the conflicting messages now being sent out by English Heritage, such as their plan to allow a “time capsule” to be buried in the monument. The current Silbury Hill conservation project, for which EH deserves credit, is designed to restore the original fabric by backfilling with pure chalk. Placing a foreign object in the monument offends conservation principles, as well as the spiritual beliefs of some people. Describing the object as a time capsule means that EH expects it to be retrieved at some future date, requiring further tunnelling, yet the current works have been undertaken to correct the mistakes of past excavations.
English Heritage should give the public clear uncomplicated messages about how to enjoy ancient monuments respectfully, and should set the very best of examples themselves.
House of Lords
On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe
Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 this week is Adam Thorpe’s On Silbury Hill (see our earlier feature here).
The novel pays personal tribute to the Neolithic monument. The base of Silbury Hill covers five acres of Wiltshire turf that has not seen the daylight for 4,300 years. Adam Thorpe has known the place since he was 13 years old. Abridged by Jill Waters. Read by Philip Franks. Broadcast daily from 9:45am – 10:00am.
Silbury Hill by Jake Turner
Jake Turner, all rights reserved
Jake Turner was born and bred in Swindon, Wiltshire, England and has been a keen photographer for around 2 years, more seriously in the past 12 months. He loves the countryside of Wiltshire where he grew up and tries to feature it as often as possible in his photos. More examples of his work can be found on his flickr and facebook pages.
Silbury after heavy rainfall last year. Image credit and © Willow
BBC News Wiltshire reports today that –
Trespassers on a rain-soaked monument in Wiltshire are causing “spectacular” damage, an archaeologist has warned. Heavy rain has led to standing water around Silbury Hill in Avebury and very soft ground which is being eroded by people climbing the monument.
Jim Leary, an archaeologist for English Heritage, said that illegal climbers on the sodden hill were “leaving some really rather hideous scars”. The hill dates back to 2400 BC and is the largest man-made mound in Europe. Mr Leary said access to the mound had been prohibited for a number of decades and people should not be attempting to climb it. “They are going up and it is very wet and they are eroding the side of the hill,” he added. “I would really ask people not to go up the hill. It is leaving some really rather hideous scars and eroding our beautiful monument.”
Full story here.
Yon ample Mound, not fashion’d to display
An artful structure, but with better skill
Piled massive, to endure through many an age,
How simple, how majestic is thy tomb!
When temples and when palaces shall fall,
And mighty cities moulder into dust,
When to their deep foundations Time shall shake
The strong-based pyramids, shall thine remain
Amid the general ruin unsubdued,
Uninjured as the everlasting hills,
And mock the feeble power of storms and Time.