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Tony Grist

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Another Centre Of The Universe [Jul. 24th, 2008|11:18 am]
Tony Grist

Silbury Hill really is a mystery. They've recently completed a dig which established that it was built in three stages- over a period corresponding to a long lifetime- but they're still no closer to establishing what it's for- or how it relates to the rest of Avebury's neolithic landscape. 

Michael Dames- whose books first got me interested in Avebury- argues that the hill represents the pregnant belly of the Mother Goddess. His work is unscholarly and largely discredited now, but his guess remains as good as any.  Maybe it's a centotaph (we can rule out burial mound because there's nothing buried there) or a ritual platform or an observatory or merely an extravagant piece of self-assertion by some forgotten tribal warlord-  "Gaze on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Looking again at these photographs, I'm struck by how anomalous it is.  A smooth-sided hill rising out of a valley bottom- it doesn't fit; it's against Nature. It's as if some gigantic child with a bucket and spade had just dumped it there. 

It's made of chalk. In its original state- like the ditch and walls of Avebury- it would have gleamed an unearthy white.








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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-07-24 12:00 pm (UTC)
Odd, very odd - rather like some of the other gigantic pictures, etc. that are in other locations.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 12:28 pm (UTC)
You mean like the Cerne Abbas Giant and other hill figures?

The secret is chalk. It's absolutely the best material for creating landscape art.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-07-24 01:03 pm (UTC)
Grand early architecture, a first cathedral.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 04:12 pm (UTC)
I believe the only ancient monuments that are bigger than Silbury hill are the Egyptian pyramids.
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[User Picture]From: jubal51394
2008-07-24 01:18 pm (UTC)

It is...

PRETTY COOL! That's what it is! Thanks for sharing!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 04:29 pm (UTC)

Re: It is...

Yes. It's an amazing place.

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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2008-07-24 02:25 pm (UTC)
Michael Dames- whose books first got me interested in Avebury- argues that the hill represents the pregnant belly of the Mother Goddess.

Peculiar theory. I haven't seen too many pregnant women whose bellies are conical.

I saw one of those half-baked TV documentaries recently about pagan sites in Britain, that claimed that Silbury Hill was a platform used to coordinate rituals at three nearby ritual sites (Avebury, I think, and two others whose names I don't now remember). This theory was based (solely, it seems) on the fact that the top of Silbury Hill is visible from all three of the other locations.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 04:21 pm (UTC)

Re: It is...

There's an extraordinary concentration of prehistoric sites in the Avebury area. It's not totally crazy to suggest the hill was designed as a ritual command centre- it's just that there's no real evidence to support this or any other theory.
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[User Picture]From: mamarose
2008-07-24 02:51 pm (UTC)
I visited this site a number of years ago, and saw things I'm not sure I saw.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 04:23 pm (UTC)
How do you mean? What sort of things exactly? I'm eager to know more....


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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-07-24 03:36 pm (UTC)
It's rather beautiful rising out of the fields as it does.
I am always reminded of the pyramids in Mexico when I see it even though there is no structural common denominator. They seem to link together in my mind.
How well you staged that last picture with the blue wildflowers in the foreground!

Edited at 2008-07-24 03:36 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 04:28 pm (UTC)
There are certainly some similarities. Was Silbury also a temple of the sun?

Thanks.

That last picture was taken from the top of the chambered tomb at West Kennet.

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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-07-24 05:20 pm (UTC)
Lovely pictures! Silbury Hill is such a strange and beautiful place; but then, the whole area around Avebury is. And I do love West Kennet.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 05:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

I'll be posting pictures of West Kennet tomorrow
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2008-07-24 06:35 pm (UTC)
These photos... the colors... the weight of the sky... it's like eating meringue with your eyes....

*stares*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I love that simile!
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From: amritarosa
2008-07-24 08:11 pm (UTC)
I just have to say that I love the photos you have been posting- always a treat!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-24 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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