|From Avebury, the gentle rise of Windmill Hill is so slight as to barely catch your eye. And indeed, when there's so much razzle-dazzle in the great henge, this place is usually overlooked.
But it was here that the first henge was dug on the Avebury landscape. And, all these thousands of years later, if you want to find it you can still trace the three concentric rings of ditches, marking out the ritual areas.
The trick is to think BIG - the outer one is simply enormous, almost clipping the trees on the western slope.
A lovely feature that messes with the modern mind is the cetring of the areas. It's slightly off-centre, going down the north side. Despite what Cursuswalker's notes suggest, this cannot have been an accident. The ancients weren't stupid, and they could feel gravity just as well as we can.
No, like the siting of long barrows and other monuments of the earlier part of megalitihic times, this is from a time before we were needing to bo the biggest, highest, grandest.
And although the hill looks like nothing from Avebury, once up here the view is a commanding one out to the henge and Silbury.
There are two massive Bronze Age barrows on the eastern side, and a bit further out, just outside of the National Trust land, two more are under the plough and getting smaller every year.
The lump on the northern side that looks like a barrow with a tree growing out of it is actually a mini reservoir.
Visiting this and proplerly figuring it out for the first time has given it a place in my understanding that East Kennett long barrow has just acquired. Both looked so trivial from the viewpoints I'd seen them from before, but once you've walked round the other side, and once you've been up here and seen the view from the top, its place on the landscape becomes paramount.
Try walkin the Ridgeway south past East Kennett long barrow. Try walking the path west out of Winterbourne Monkton and see how Windmill Hill looms and broods at everything.
Going out to West Kennett, Windmill Hill just covers the backdrop of the view. Getting up in the morning when camping at Avenue Farm I will always look for a moment at the earthworks up here.
Incidentally, what a shame Cursuswalker hasn't put more posts up on this site - the notes for Windmill Hill are superb; historical, intuitive, personal, informative.
(visited 5 April 02)
Posted by Merrick
12th April 2002ce