A guest feature by Littlestone

Silbury (Silbury Hill) stands at the side of the old Roman road to Bath, about a mile from the Avebury stone circle on the A4 heading towards Marlborough. There’s a small car park close to the structure and information panels in the viewing area there detail the general history of the monument. It’s not possible (nor desirable) to climb Silbury and the information panels in the viewing area explain why.

Recent estimates place the final phase of Silbury’s construction at some 2,400bce. In other words, Silbury is nearly four and a half thousand years old. Until the modern age it was the largest manmade structure in Europe. When the final stage of Silbury was completed it would have appeared as a huge white ‘pyramid’ set in a green and gentle Downland valley. At certain times of the year Silbury would, as it still sometimes does today, appear to float at the centre of its own artificial ‘lake’ and been visible from not only the nearby Ridgeway (possibly the oldest track-way in Europe) but also from many other vantage points on the surrounding Downs – some of these vantage points are as far away as Winterbourne Bassett (see below https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/avebury-william-stukeley-and-the-lost-circle-of-winterbourne-bassett/ ).

For some four and a half thousand years things stayed more or less as they were, but that was about to change with Colonel Drax and the Duke of Northumberland’s vertical shaft dug to the centre of Silbury in 1776.


Silbury at the centre of its own artificial lake. Image credit Moss