Mr. C. E. Ponting writes that in 1889 he noticed that this hill appeared from the Pewsey Vale of a bright yellow colour, caused by a mass of yellow Ladies' Fingers (Lotus corniculatus?) in flower, with which the whole hill was covered. He suggests that this is the origin of the name.
Possibly not so comprehensively explained as the other idea on this page. Some may think it more convincing. But where's the ball.
This book, 'Crop Circles, signs of contact' wants us to believe that Golden Ball Hill is so called because of the strange glowing globes seen there, which are connected with the crop circles of the area. Well, it could be true, though you'd think someone would have mentioned these globes before. But whatever, I guess it is an interesting and fitting contemporary example of place name derivation, in the lore-rich landscape around Avebury.
Three late Mesolithic dwellings were found on Golden Ball Hill in 1997 by a team from Cardiff University. They date from about 4500BC - when people last lived as hunters and gatherers in Britain. They mark the earliest persistent settlements in this area which was later to see the causewayed enclosure of Knap Hill, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Longbarrow and Avebury circle itself.
Mesolithic buildings are incredibly rare in Britain. Sites have been found where temporary structures have left behind the small holes of tent and windbreak poles, but there are few places where the traces of substantial buildings have been found. Here at Golden Ball Hill three flint floors were found, together with post holes and hearth. They were clearly occupied over some length of time.
The floors were made from carefully selected smooth flint pebbles, and the largest of the floors is 10 by 15 metres - a large area suggesting a large building. Archaeologists have dated them by the tiny pieces of flint amongst them, perhaps pieces that just slipped between the rushes that might have been on the floor. No pottery was found, which helps to confirm that the sites are pre-Neolithic. It would have been an ideal spot: well drained, handy for natural flint and with a good view over the game-stocked forest in the Pewsey Vale below.
Middens of mesolithic flint knapping waste have been known on the Hill for ages, but remarkably the buildings have not been noticed before although they were still faintly visible as slight indentations in the turf.