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15 October 2006
Silbury Hill latest work

The civil engineering firm Skanska is undertaking further work for English Heritage on the lower side of Silbury Hill (Wiltshire, England). This is part of a process to attempt to remedy various areas of instability that have resulted from inadequately backfilled explorations in 1776, 1849 and almost unbelievably, as recently as 1968 which was funded and filmed by the BBC. Skanska have posted a detailed notice at the site, announcing their aim to re-enter these explorations and properly backfill them with chalk with the hope of returning Silbury Hill as near to its original state as can be practicably achieved.
     This first phase of operations involves the temporary re-exposure of the entrance to one of the explorations, the tunnel dug into the hill in 1968 by Professor Richard Atkinson. This is being done so as to 1: survey the levels at the top and bottom of the tunnel, 2: measure and confirm the internal dimensions of the tunnel, 3: inspect the condition of the tunnel supports within the first few feet of the tunnel, 4: sample the existing tunnel fill material and 5: plan and design a new entrance access structure. In addition, archaeological recording is being undertaken, with the soil and turf removed during this re-exposure work being replaced after Skanska’s survey has been completed. If you’re in the area, please bear in mind that there is no public access to Silbury Hill for nature conservation reasons and in order to protect the extremely fragile archaeological state of the monument.
     It is certainly very heartening to see that Silbury Hill is being repaired after its recent lapses, but it’s patently obvious that a good part of this work would not be necessary if in 1968, Professor Richard Atkinson had taken the elementary step of properly filling in his excavated tunnel. The historical records of the inside of Silbury Hill 'went missing' when any reasonable person would have thought that they’d instantly be put on public display, so that everyone could see what had been discovered at the heart of this mysterious mound. It is heartening to think that such negligence and dereliction is absolutely unthinkable today in the British Isles.

Source: Eternal Idol (10 October 2006)

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