| 2 June 2011
Marlborough Mound is a truly prehistoric monument
The Wiltshire landscape around Avebury and Silbury Hill (southwest England) is the heart of prehistoric Britain, and has World Heritage designation. Now another monument can be added to its archaeological treasures: the Marlborough Mound.
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 (1116 CE), and subsequently became the centrepiece of a major 17th 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. Samples taken from two bore holes through the height of the 19m tall monument show it was built in the years around 2400 BCE - the first proof of the theory that the motte is largely a re-used prehistoric structure of the highest national standing.
Jim Leary - leader of the recent archaeological investigations for English Heritage at the nearby Silbury Hill, and co-author of the recently published 'The Story of Silbury Hill' - coordinated EH's contribution. Leary 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."
As part of the College grounds, the Mound is on strictly private property.
Edited from Marlborough College PR (May 2011), Past Horizons (31 May 2011)
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