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Whilst wider interest is particularly welcome in the jewel in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site crown, as many may be attracted to visit yet remain unaware there is no public access to this ancient mound the following reminder of Silbury Hill’s history is perhaps in order:

This largest prehistoric chalk built structure in the world was started 4,500 years ago, but it has been closed to the public since 1974 due to the erosion of prehistoric archaeology by climbers. Having been purchased by Sir John Lubbock in the 1870s in order to protect it, Silbury Hill is still privately owned by Lord Avebury and is in the guardianship of English Heritage. Silbury Hill is safeguarded by legislation under the Ancient Monument Preservation Act, having been one of the first monuments placed under its protection in 1882, it is also protected by SSSI status because of its extraordinary long record in relation to its flora and fauna.

On 29 May 2000 a collapse was noticed in the summit of Silbury Hill, after infill sunk within a top to bottom vertical shaft cut in 1776 that was undermined by tunnels cut in 1849 & 1968. Over £1.5M was spent on repairs and investigation completed in 2008. English Heritage are now instigating new notices, fences and other measures to deter climbers, because ruts are being worn through the surface, destroying highly vulnerable irreplaceable prehistoric archaeology. As tempting as it is therefore, let us all hope all the folk visiting Silbury Hill will resist trespassing and further damaging the mound.

[ See also the recent BBC report on the “spectacular damage” being caused by trespassers on the hill. ]


July 2013

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