|I can understand why there are no reports for Windmill Hill as yet.
Frankly, Avebury is nearby and far more accessible and spectacular, whereas Windmill Hill is relatively unknown outside archaeological circles, a bit of a pain to get to and once you get there there isn't too much to see.
It WAS the forerunner to Avebury, being of the earlier Causewayed Enclosure type that was the style of sacred circle that led to the Henge. It is also the site from which the entire Causewayed Enclosure building culture of southern Britain is named. In all the aerial photographs of it that you are likely to see, from about 1950, there has been a recent archaeological dig, so the three rings look quite prominent. When I got there one could barely make them out.
The one section of ditch that looks most spectacular is actually a more recent quarry on the north eastern side, but the rings CAN be traced, possibly more easily if the grass is cropped close, and there are two impressive Bronze Age round barrows on the top of the hill, inside the enclosure. This is typical of the later Bronze Age peoples, who seemed to see Neolithic sites as places of death, where it was auspicious to bury their chieftains.
Strangely the centre of the enclosure is not upon the top of the hill, but offset to the northwest. I like to imagine the first arrivals trying to determine where the centre should be, while the place was still forested. Being such a low hill this would not have been easy necessarily, and the centre just misses it. But who knows? Perhaps it was deliberate.
It IS a very peaceful place. The place from which those who first decided to create permanent meeting places in this landscape would have viewed the land around them as the tree cover was stripped away from the hill over the years. Sitting on the hill, looking in the direction of Avebury, it is easy to imagine a person in about 3000BC, whose name we will never know, first thinking up the idea of a more ambitious project in the shallow valley below, and the site of the future Silbury Hill is clearly visible.
You are guaranteed peace on this hill, and I look upon it as Avebury's "quiet room", as the tourist trail doesn't go near it. But it does also seem a slightly sad place for all that. As I traced the circles I felt quite sombre, yet safe and welcome there.
This was on Tuesday 16th February 1999. Immediately after walking to Windmill Hill I visited my last remaining grandparent in nearby Swindon. He unexpectedly died two weeks later, so Windmill Hill will always have a certain association for me.
To sit upon its highest point in silence, with a gentle wind sending waves through the grass around you, is to feel a real connection with a way of life and a culture that has now passed, yet which gave birth to the culture which created our best known sacred sites.
Posted by Cursuswalker
6th July 2001ce
Edited 23rd November 2003ce