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Stonehenge, Avebury and megalithic news

High turn out for 2010 Summmer solstice BBC (opens in new window)

Heavy police presence for 2010 Summer solstice says Guardian (opens in new window)



Stonehenge not voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World

100 million people voted and the list has been revealed:
The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Peru’s Machu Picchu, Peru
Chichen Itza pyramid, Mexico
The Great Wall of China
Petra, Jordan
The Colosseum, Rome
Taj Mahal, India

Silbury Hill - site of a Roman village

Silbury Hill
March 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.
It 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.

Silbury Hill Myths and Legends

Long, 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.

Silbury Hill neolithic mound



Silbury Hill winter

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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