Stonehenge, Avebury and megalithic news
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Hill - site of a Roman village
10th 2007 -
Archaeologists have recently made a surprise discovery at
the foot of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, part of the Avebury
World Heritage Site -
remains of a Roman settlement. The
hill is the largest prehistoric structure in Europe, 37
metres high with a flat top 30m in diameter and nearly 5,000
years old. The Roman road, that is now the A4, changed its
usual straight route to go around Silbury Hill, proving
that the Romans recognised the prehistoric man-made mound.
English Heritage scientists were carrying out a geo-physical
survey before restoration work to stabilise the hill begins.
The new data shows a village-sized settlement, consisting
of streets and houses, the size of around 24 football pitches.
The scientific team used caesium magnetometers which pick
up magnetic disturbances in the soil, up to 1.5 metres deep.
has been suggested by experts that Silbury Hill might have
been a stop-over point for Roman travellers on their way
to Bath to take the waters. It is also likely that the Romans
would have been drawn to the sacred setting of a prehistoric
site near to water - Winterbourne River and the Swallowhead
Spring are close by.
Hill Myths and Legends
long ago in the town of Devizes, people began to speak
ill of the devil, so hearing of this he went to the town
intending to dump a huge bag of earth on them all. The
people luckily heard about this and so sent their bravest
man to meet Lucifer. He carried with him a big bag full
of worn old shoes, and he tried to convince the devil
that he had worn out all these shoes walking from Devizes
(when in truth it was only 5 miles away!) The devil, already
tired of walking, couldn't face the prospect of walking
much further, so dumped his huge pile of earth where he
stood. This is why Silbury hill is where it is today!
There are many different versions of this tale, such as
: the devil was angry with Devizes because they had turned
to Christianity, and that the brave man who went to meet
the devil, told him that when he had started his journey
from Devizes he was a young boy.
The purpose of Silbury Hill remains a mystery. Was it
perhaps a viewing or signalling platform? No burials have
ever been found inside the hill. The mound was used as
a fortification during 11th and 12th Centuries, which
is when the terrace was made.
The enigmatic neolithic mound of Silbury Hill turns out to
have had a Roman settlement nestling at its foot 2000 years
ago. A small Roman settlement had already been discovered on
Waden Hill, 300 metres to the east of Silbury, but until now
nobody was aware of such a large Roman presence in the area.
Heavy rain during May 2000 caused damage to the hill as the
water dripped inside the mound, causing the collapse of an 18th
century shaft. Tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968 have made
this giant Neolithic tumulus we know as Silbury Hill, near Avebury
unstable. English Heritage have announced a multi-million repair
project will now take place. The work is due to begin in May
and end in September and will hopefully allow archaeologists
to excavate the Roman site nearby.
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