|Another fierce contender for the 'second biggest manmade hill after Silbury' this 18m high mound sits overgrown in the grounds of a school. It's not a quarter of the volume of Silbury though. It was long said to be Norman, but when the Hartford family reshaped it John Aubrey reported that Roman coins had been found in the side - so surely it must be at least Roman in age (unless some joker put the coins in later - unlikely I feel). They also found red deer antler picks - which also backs up the theory the hill was built in the Neolithic.
Like Silbury Hill and the lost barrow at Marden it lies partly surrounded in a bend of a river. Stukeley believed that a spring rose under it - or at least from inside the ditch.
The name 'marlborough' comes from the site perhaps, from the anglo-saxon 'Maerle beorg' - Maerla's barrow. It is also said to be the burial place of Merlin - the town's motto is 'Ubi nunc sapientis ossa Merlini' ie Where now are the bones of wise Merlin. I don't know if this is a statement or a question..
According to messages on the TMA forum, it is fairly easy to obtain permission to visit if you say you are a student of archaeology - but maybe given the news above, visitors will be encouraged in the school holidays in future anyway?
The mound apparently sported a spiral path in the past, a charming gazebo on the top - but now a rather ugly water tank.
(partly from Burl's 'Prehistoric Avebury')
Posted by Rhiannon
13th May 2002ce
Edited 6th July 2005ce