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Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site


Every year hundreds of people climb Silbury Hill, ignoring signs explaining why they should not. Until recently, all used an ancient spiral path that is conspicuously visible from the roadside, but after Silbury’s 2008 restoration at least half a dozen new routes appeared, each producing an ugly, vertical scar. Most climbers preferred the same ‘discrete’ route least visible from the road; after only a few years their collective boots formed steps, as they cut through the turf into bare soil. In this record year of rainfall that soil has eroded away, leaving a foot-deep scar. Those that climb assume that one individual cannot make any difference to a monument so vast – but there are people on the hill virtually every day of the year. Hundreds of individuals do make a difference, as this picture clearly shows: crossing the meadow then up the side of the monument, the climbers are eroding irreplaceable archaeology that has stood for thousands of years.


(See also yesterday’s plea by archaeologist Jim Leary)


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.


January 2013

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