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Cley Hill



The excellent Sir Richard Colt Hoare wrote these observations as part of his description of Ancient Wiltshire (1812):
[Near] Warminster are two very singular knolls, which form a very conspicuous and beautiful object from every part of the adjacent country. They bear the name of CLEE or CLAY HILLS. They differ considerably in size, and rise very boldly from the surrounding plain. The larger hill is surrounded by a ditch and rampart, bearing the marks of high antiquity*. Its form is like that of a cone with an obtuse head; that of the lesser hill is drawn more to a point.

On the summit of the larger hill are two barrows, both of which I have caused to be opened. The largest produced no evidence of its having been destined to sepulchral purposes*. Near the bottom of it we found some ears of wheat undecayed, and the soil of which the barrow was composed had fragments of pottery, charred wood, and ashes intermixed with it, which may be accounted for, by supposing that this eminence was inhabited by the Britons previous to the formation of their mound, which, perhaps in later times, was made use of as a beacon. The adjoining barrow was certainly sepulchral, and originally contained an interment of burned human bones, which, on opening it, we found had been disturbed.

*Bishop Gibson, in his edition of Camden, says that 'Clay hill shews no marks of any trenches,' a proof that he, like many other writers on topography, never visited the place he described..
*I thought this was interesting. Because let's face it he opened enough barrows and surely he knew something different when he saw it? (I mean maybe modern archaeologists would see it differently. but this did leap out at me, especially considering its position on a very prominent landmark.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th May 2007ce
Edited 12th May 2007ce

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