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 tothe 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.
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.
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.
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!