Silbury Hill


    The largest prehistoric mound in Europe
    Silbury Hill large image 1

        Publication Date

        20 Jan 2014


        Silbury Hill is an enormous earthen mound that is situated in the heart of the Marlborough Downs, and set today within the Avebury World Heritage Site. This academic monograph will provide a full account of the recent archaeological investigations.

        Main Summary

          Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, has long been an enigma. Set within the chalk downlands of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, it is traditionally thought to have been the burial place of King Sil. First investigated in 1776, then again in 1849, successive archaeological interventions culminated in Professor Richard Atkinson’s televised campaign in the late 1960s.

          Following the dramatic collapse of the 1776 excavation shaft at the summit of the Hill in 2000, detailed surveys revealed that voids associated with the earlier excavations existed deep within the mound. Mindful of potential damage to undisturbed archaeological features within Silbury Hill, in 2007 the decision was taken to re-enter the Hill using Professor Atkinson’s tunnel and directly backfill all known and predicated voids. These remedial works were accompanied by full archaeological recording.

          This report discusses the resulting stratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental evidence as well as new radiocarbon dates and offers a re-interpretation of the construction of the Hill, setting it in its late Neolithic context. It also details the later history of the site and conservation measures undertaken.

          Additional Information


          Gill Campbell
          David Field
          Jim Leary

          Author Information

          Jim Leary is an archaeologist with English Heritage.
          David Field is recently retired as an investigator for English Heritage.
          Gill Campbell is head of Environmental Studies at English Heritage.

          Publishing Status




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            1.  Preparations: the setting, previous research, recent research and surveys
            2.  The evolution of Silbury Hill: the prehistoric phases
            3.  The prehistoric finds
            4.  The Silbury Chronology
            5.  Understanding preservation and formation processes
            6.  Silbury Hill: Understanding the environment
            7.  Ways of understanding prehistoric Silbury Hill
            8.  Neolithic Silbury in context
            9.  In the Shadow of the Hill: Silbury Hill in the Roman and the Medieval period
            10.  The conservation of Silbury Hill


              Elegant and beautifully designed, Silbury Hill is brimming with photographs and drawings, maps and diagrams. It is a bibiophile's delight. Particularly lovely is a set of tunnel sections, reproduced on folded sheets that are each five times the width of a standard page. ... If you need to know all that is known about Silbury Hill, you need this book.
              Steve Marshall
              Fortean times
              This appropriately detailed, well illustrated and luxuriously produced report chronicles the response... The book is a precious record, with stimulating discussions ....
              Mike Pitts
              British Archaeology
              ... a beautiful volume, clearly written and attractively illustrated.
              Vicki Cummings
              Antiquity 88 (2014): 1323-1325
              One of the great strengths of the book is its superb presentation of empirical detail which is likely to be an indispensable resource for future researchers. ... The volume is beautifully illustrated throughout with well-chosen photographs, illustrations and diagrams, supplemented by large, well-presented site plans which fold out from the back of the book. The lavish production allows the authors to offer a gradual, layered build-up of evidence and interpretation in a style both scholarly and accessible allowing both professional and amateur readily to understand the history of that wonderful landscape from the time of its construction to the present day.
              David Jacques
              Landscape History, Vol 36 (1), 2015