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Marlborough Mound: a sibling for Silbury Hill?

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Thalacker
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« on: June 04, 2011, 01:33:32 am »

Marlborough Mound: a sibling for Silbury Hill?



The Wiltshire landscape around Avebury and Silbury Hill is the heart of prehistoric Britain, and has World Heritage designation. Now another monument can be added to its archaeological treasures: the Marlborough Mound.



Marlborough Mound Marlborough College
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Thalacker
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2011, 01:34:18 am »

The Mound, in the grounds of Marlborough College, was already recognised as a feature of considerable historical significance. It was the motte on which the keep of Marlborough Castle was built fifty years after the Norman Conquest and it subsequently became the centrepiece of a major seventeenth century garden. The latest research has extended its history back by three millennia.

Recent coring of the mound at Marlborough College produced four samples of charcoal, allowing radiocarbon dating for the first time. The samples, which came from different levels in the mound, were taken from two bore holes through the height of the 19m monument, showing that it was built in the years around 2400 BC. This is the first firm evidence proving the theory that the castle motte is largely a re-used prehistoric structure of the highest national standing.

    For centuries people have wondered whether it is Silbury’s little sister; and now we have an answer

Jim Leary, who led the recent archaeological investigations for English Heritage at the nearby Silbury Hill, and is co-author of the recently published ‘The Story of Silbury Hill’ coordinated EH’s contribution, which also included radiocarbon dating. He says, “This is an astonishing discovery. The Marlborough Mound has been one of the biggest mysteries in the Wessex landscape. For centuries people have wondered whether it is Silbury’s little sister; and now we have an answer. This is a very exciting time for British prehistory”
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Thalacker
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2011, 01:34:50 am »

After the prehistoric mound was re-used as a castle motte – the only known example of its kind – it became an important royal castle for the Norman and Plantagenet kings. It was occasionally the scene of major political events, such as the general oath of allegiance to King John in 1209, as well as being a favourite royal hunting lodge. In the fourteenth century the castle passed to the queens of England, and gradually became neglected.

In the seventeenth century it came into the possession of the Seymour family, and its next avatar was as a feature in a historically significant early romantic garden: a spiral ramp was cut in its side, with a hawthorn hedge enclosing the path which wound to the summit, where there was a water feature.

The Master of Marlborough College, Mr Nicholas Sampson, said: ‘We are thrilled at this discovery, which confirms the long and dramatic history of this beautiful site and offers opportunity for tremendous educational enrichment.’

The work is part of a major conservation programme being undertaken by the Marlborough Mound Trust, specially formed at the invitation of the College and under the coordination of Donald Insall Associates. The Chairman of the Trust, Mr Michael Macfadyen says, ‘The inspiration for this was our founder Eric Elstob, a former pupil at the College, whose generous legacy has provided the means for this work. He would have been totally delighted by this news.’

Please note: As part of the College grounds, the Mound is on strictly private property.

English Heritage information on Silbury Hill: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/conservation-projects/silbury-hill/
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Thalacker
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2011, 01:35:43 am »



Aerial view of Silbury Hill. Image: cryptoworld, Flickr

http://www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/archives/05/2011/marlborough-mound-a-sibling-for-silbury-hill
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2011, 01:37:14 am »


Marlborough mound mystery solved – after 4,400 years

Hill in Wiltshire school grounds nicknamed Silbury's little sister revealed as important neolithic monument


    * Maev Kennedy
    * guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 31 May 2011 19.06 BST
    * Article history




Ancient mound in the grounds of Marlborough College, Wiltshire. Photograph: Steven Vaux /Marlborough College

For generations, it has been scrambled up with pride by students at Marlborough College. But the mysterious, pudding-shaped mound in the grounds of the Wiltshire public school now looks set to gain far wider acclaim as scientists have revealed it is a prehistoric monument of international importance.

After thorough excavations, the Marlborough mound is now thought to be around 4,400 years old, making it roughly contemporary with the nearby, and far more renowned, Silbury Hill.

The new evidence was described by one archeologist, an expert on ancient ritual sites in the area, as "an astonishing discovery". Both neolithic structures are likely to have been constructed over many generations.

The Marlborough mound had been thought to date back to Norman times. It was believed to be the base of a castle built 50 years after the Norman invasion and later landscaped as a 17th-century garden feature. But it has now been dated to around 2400BC from four samples of charcoal taken from the core of the 19 metre-high hill.

The samples prove it was built at a time when British tribes were combining labour on ritual monuments in the chalk downlands of Wiltshire, including Stonehenge and the huge ditches and stone circle of Avebury.

History students at the college will now have the chance to study an extraordinary example just a stone's throw from their classroom windows. Malborough's Master Nicholas Sampson said: "We are thrilled at this discovery, which confirms the long and dramatic history of this beautiful site and offers opportunity for tremendous educational enrichment."

The Marlborough mound has been called "Silbury's little sister", after the more famous artificial hill on the outskirts of Avebury, which is the largest manmade prehistoric hill in Europe.

Marlborough, at two-thirds the height of Silbury, now becomes the second largest prehistoric mound in Britain; it may yet be confirmed as the second largest in Europe.

Jim Leary, the English Heritage archeologist who led a recent excavation of Silbury, said: "This is an astonishing discovery. The Marlborough mound has been one of the biggest mysteries in the Wessex landscape. For centuries, people have wondered whether it is Silbury's little sister, and now we have an answer. This is a very exciting time for British prehistory."

The dating was carried out as part of major conservation work amid concerns that tree roots could be destabilising the structure.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/31/malborough-mound-wiltshire-silbury-neolithic?INTCMP=SRCH
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