The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Silbaby (Artificial Mound) — Miscellaneous

The main problem I have regarding this site as ancient is that when I look at the old maps of the area, it doesn't show up at all. Furthermore this place hasn't always been a greenfield site at all.

The earliest map I could find was the 1886-7 OS Survey, which shows a small enclosure on the western end of the site containing a range of buildings, and also an extension of the river Kennet forming a pond along the southern side of the enclosure. A well is shown about 10 yards south of the buildings.

The map-makers here showed a shallow road cutting north of the buildings with the traditional hatched markings, but showed absolutely no trace of a mound anywhere on the site. This state of affairs continues right the way on to 1961, when the buildings are still there, and never once is a mound shown.

The 1978 map is markedly different. The buildings have gone, the well isn't marked, the road cutting is noticeably larger and a large mound has appeared on the "Silbaby" site, partly overlying where the houses once were and partly infilling the pond formed by a branch of the Kennet.

At a rough guess, at some point between 1961 and 1978 which I cannot accurately determine, the A4 road was improved and the cutting immediately north of the site was either deepened, or was widened to remove the risk of landslides. The houses south of the road were purchased and the area used as a dump zone for the excess chalk and soil. From the look of the mound, I do not think that any particular care or attention to detail was made at all; the debris was just dumped as it was excavated and the pile left to settle naturally. Any layering will just be the result of this laisse-faire approach, and not unfortunately careful Neolithic building.

What I don't think is that centuries of antiquarians and years of ordnance surveyors have missed a large Neolithic mound. Between the 1886 map and the 1900 map, the spot-heights all change (by 20' upwards) as I suppose someone re-surveyed the area and realised the discrepancy; this means that the site has been carefully examined twice by surveyors; it is most unlikely that they would miss the same feature twice, yet carefully mark every tumulus, mound and similar feature on the maps.
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