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UK - Silbury Hill
9 years ago
from http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.8820 English Heritage has announced the latest stage in the process to repair and preserve Silbury Hill, the largest Neolithic construction of its type in Europe, and part of the ancient landscape of Avebury, a World Heritage Site. Since the collapse in 2000 of infilling to a shaft at the top of the Hill, English Heritage along with a team of expert external advisors, has carried out extensive investigations into the condition of the Hill and research as to the best way forward to preserve its long term stability. This work outlined a number of options for the future of the Hill, one of which has now been selected by English Heritage for further exploration and feasibility studies. English Heritage consulted with a wide group of interested parties before the decision was taken, and presented three main options for discussion at a seminar for local and national archaeology experts in September 2004. The option chosen is to re-enter Silbury Hill via the tunnel dug to its centre in 1968, and then remove existing collapse and inadequate backfill in the tunnel, before properly backfilling it. The tunnel and other voids within the Hill would be filled with chalk to the same density as the surrounding mound material. The work of backfilling would take place backwards from the centre of the Hill, and enable contractors to remove any temporary supports left after previous excavations. The work would be accompanied by an archaeological investigation programme which would fully record all the parts of the Hill which are exposed again and enhance our knowledge of its construction. Following this work, the temporary capping to the top of the shaft at the summit of the Hill would be replaced with chalk, and a monitoring programme put in place to assess any settlement of the of the Hill in the future. The benefit of this way forward is that it will return the Hill to as near its original state as can be practicably achieved. It will prevent further damage to the Hill from upward migration of existing cavities. It will preserve the long term stability of the Hill, whilst minimising further damage to its unique archaeology. In its work to date on the Hill, English Heritage surveys have confirmed that the overall structure of the mound is stable, although there are localised pockets of instability arising from the presence of the shaft dug in 1776 and the inadequate backfilling of the tunnels to the centre of the Hill, which were dug in 1849 and 1968/9. What happens next? English Heritage is drawing up a detailed brief for contractors, who will be asked to demonstrate how they would execute the proposed option whilst fulfilling the overall objectives of the project. English Heritage will assess their submissions before making a final decision on whether to go ahead with the work. At the same time, English Heritage will be looking into funding options for the project.
9 years ago
EXPERTS have come up with a plan to save ancient landmark Silbury Hill from collapsing in on itself ­ but they need up to £600,000 to carry it out.

English Heritage has reached a decision on which option to take to stabilise the ancient monument, the largest prehistoric man-made construction in Europe, and guarantee its continued existence for centuries to come.

It has chosen to re-enter Silbury Hill through the tunnel dug to its centre in 1968, the subject of a BBC film made by Magnus Magnusson at the time.

The existing material that has been used to backfill the various excavations that have taken place over the last 200 years or so will be removed and replaced with chalk to the same density as the surrounding mound material. The temporary capping at the top of the shaft dug into the hill in the 18th century, which is composed of expanded polystyrene, will be removed and it, too, replaced with chalk.

Bob Bewley, south west regional director for English Heritage, said: "The tunnels have never presented the major problem. Most of the subsidence is as a result of the shaft that was dug by the Duke of Northumberland's men in 1776 straight down through the centre of the monument in the search for gold.

"They found no gold at the base but it has left us with major headaches as it has never been satisfactorily filled in and is the cause of all the major subsidence that has threatened Silbury Hill."

Mr Bewley and his colleagues are confident that recent work to stabilise the monument will keep it safe in the short term while arrangements are made to undertake the massive effort to complete the repairs.

It has already been five years since a massive hole opened up at the top of Silbury Hill, which was exclusively reported by the Gazette at the time.

But Mr Bewley explained that rescuing a 4,700-year-old construction from dereliction is no short-term matter.

He said: "We have not taken the quick and easy fix but have tried to understand what is happening inside the hill, which is why is has taken so long to come up with our decision.

"When we are finished the hill will hopefully not require any further attentions for hundreds of years, although we will be monitoring it regularly."

A project board meeting is due to be held in October when a decision will be taken to put the work out to tender.

Mr Bewley said: "We hope to find the right contractor in this financial year and the work will be started in either the next financial year or the following one.

"The biggest thing will be finding the money for the work. We reckon it is going to cost in the region of £500,000 or £600,000 and we are going to have to find that money from somewhere.

"Some of that may come from commercial sponsorship. Large companies and other organisations may be pleased to be involved with this kind of project.

"It is a World Heritage Site and will attract publicity from all over the world."
http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/wiltshire/marlborough/news/MARLB_NEWS_LOCAL7.html
9 years ago
thank you for the information..
9 years ago

Heritage Action have updated their Silbury pages and are encouraging people to write to English Heritage:

http://www.heritageaction.org/?page=heritagealerts_silburyhill

9 years ago
CAMPAIGN GROUP CONCERNED ABOUT SILBURY HILL RESTORATION PLANSBy Graham Spicer22/08/2005Shows an aerial photo of a large grassy mound surrounded by fields

There has been intense debate over the future of the neolithic Silbury Hill site. © English Heritage and Skanska

Heritage Action, the group campaigning for the protection of threatened heritage sites, has challenged English Heritage’s plans for the future of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire.

The largest prehistoric mound in Europe, Silbury Hill was built between 2800 and 2000BC but in May 2000 a large hole appeared after a period of heavy rainfall made an old excavation shaft collapse.

In a report issued on July 18 2005 English Heritage outlined their plan to repair the damage by re-entering the mound through a tunnel from a previous excavation. They would then remove the existing collapse and inadequate backfill in the tunnel and backfill it properly.

The report stated: “The work would be accompanied by an archaeological investigation programme which would fully record all the parts of the hill which are exposed again and enhance our knowledge of its construction.”

In response to these proposals, however, Heritage Action has called on English Heritage to explain its decision.

“On the basis of the risk assessment that English Heritage has presented, tunnelling appears to be by far the least appropriate of the repair options,” said the pressure group in a statement on its website.

Heavy rainfall in May 2005 caused an old excavation shaft to collapse. © English Heritage

Shows an aerial photo of a grassy area with a fenced-off hole in the middle

“Yet that is what English Heritage have decided will happen. The public must be told what has led them to this choice.”

Heritage Action said that if tunnelling is proven by engineers to be the best way to tackle the problem then it would accept this solution, however they expressed their concerns about this approach.

“If career-boosting research is the 'treasure' to be won by selecting the most damaging solution, then our generation would be no better than the treasure-seeking vandals of old whose tunnels caused the problem,” it said.

The campaign group has called for clarification of the reasoning behind the plans and a public consultation meeting.

As previously reported on the 24 Hour Museum, there has been intense debate about the best way to repair the damage on Silbury Hill and preserve the site for the future.

According to their recent announcement, English Heritage has stated that it, “has carried out extensive investigations into the condition of the hill and research as to the best way forward to preserve its long term stability."

Shows a photo of a large grassy mound surrounded by fields

English Heritage have proposed a scheme to restore the hill but campaign group Heritage Action has expressed concerns about the plans.

“This work outlined a number of options for the future of the hill, one of which has now been selected by English Heritage for further exploration and feasibility studies. English Heritage consulted with a wide group of interested parties before the decision was taken, and presented three main options for discussion at a seminar for local and national archaeology experts in September 2004.”

However, Heritage Action still has its doubts about the plans and believe an alternative technique called grouting has not been fully explored. Speaking to the 24 Hour Museum, Nigel Swift from the group explained: “It may not completely fill it but it is a minor problem compared to the damage that tunnelling could cause.”

http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh_gfx_en/ART30068.html
Tickles me that the archologist (theif) scuse me
9 years ago
Went digging in the mount -when there are so many of  the obvious cairns around and also the west kennet Barrow. A couple of miles north there is the famous wayland smithy. Weyland smithy is mentioned in the eldas elder one of the nordic books of tales.... a famous Scry and blacksmith renouned for his magical weapons. Avebury is a beautifull place with examples form different celtic ages of development. I would consider it the most important and ancient grave yards in the celtic world. Use to be a Celtic thought if its dead leave well alone and go tell a Druid.   
Important meeting
9 years ago

This looks like the last chance for hearing some sence out of English Heritage on this issue:

A meeting presenting the proposed repairs for Silbury Hill
is to be held 11.00 am on November 26
at the Study Centre in Avebury.
Entrance is only by (free) ticket,
apply : customers@english-heritage.org.uk

http://www.aveburylodge.co.uk/News.html

I am very concerned that the desire to further explore the hill is clouding the judgement on the best way to repair it. I believe that if we are not careful, this will end up as an unfortunate fudge which neither satisfies the need for good research or the need to properly repair the hole.

Coming from a northern coal mining community, I know that it only takes weeks to fix mine shaft subsidance - the knowledge to do this job is freely available. Yes, archaeology needs to be taken into account but when a simple task like this takes more than four years just to decide what to do, one has to be concerned.

It would be great if this meeting attracted a lot of interest - just to show them they can't railroad a decision through.

I dont need a passport for that one !
9 years ago
Funds depending! Im on route! I havnt been there for many years and it would be interesting to see -who, what and how these things are managed! Plus the whole area in crawling with interest!
Silbury to be fixed?
9 years ago

After more than four years of internal wrangling, English Heritage have finally, well almost, decided on the best way to fix the mighty Sibury Hill - Britain's largest ancient mound, 4,000 years old.

Silbury is one of Britain's most enigmatic structures, like Stonehenge it is the only structure like it in Britain and so far archaeologists have been unable to suggest a purpose for its construction during the Bronze Age.

It is this enigmatic quality that in many ways has been its undoing; About thirty years ago, Archaeologist Atkinson in conjunction with the BBC tunnelled in to the hill but failed to properly sure up the tunnels at the end of the investigation.

In 2003 these tunnels started collapsing, causing the hill to subside and raising fears of a major collapse. At the time English Heritage closed the hill to public access and asked for urgent funds for the hills repair.

The final decision is to be made after a public meeting to be held at Avebury, where Britain's Heritage watchdog will present their chosen method of repair.

But there are rumblings of a revolt. Heritage campaign group Heritage Action have been raising concerns over English Heritage's lack of progress and suggested that this may be a case of the archaeologists taking over the building site - the lure of further research getting in the way of a straightforward repair strategy.

Sure enough, when English Heritage finally announced its repair options in 2004 campaigners were not impressed to see that more tunnels were being proposed and research appeared to have equal priority to repair.

"Coming from a northern coal mining community, I know that it only takes weeks to fix mine shaft subsidence - the knowledge to do this job is freely available." Said Heritage Action spokesman George Chaplin "Yes, archaeology needs to be taken into account but when a simple task like this takes more than four years just to decide what to do, one has to be concerned."

The meeting will be held will be held at 11.00 am on November 26th at the Study Centre in Avebury. Entrance is free but ticket only ticket, contact customers@english-heritage.org.uk

The meeting is expected to attract widespread interest, for more information visit Heritage Action's website www.heritageaction.org.

http://www.worldheritagealert.org/Pages/article2.htm

Venue Change
9 years ago
OPEN MEETING TO DISCUSS ENGLISH HERITAGE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF
SILBURY HILL

26th NOVEMBER 2005
11.00am – 1.00pm
(Tea & Coffee available from 10.30am)

AT THE

THE CORN EXCHANGE
WESSEX ROOM
MARKET PLACE, (next door to Bear Hotel)
DEVIZES


Short presentation following by an open discussion

The meeting is for all those with an interest in the proposed plans for the stabilisation of Silbury Hill.

Numbers are limited by the size of the venue so please book a seat by contacting Beverley Ballon at English Heritage on 0117 9750703 or emailing Beverley.ballon@english-heritage.org.uk .
SUMMIT TO SAVE ENGLISH PYRAMID
9 years ago
SUMMIT TO SAVE ENGLISH PYRAMID
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09:30 - 31 October 2005

It has baffled locals and historians alike for hundreds of years, but last night the full extent of the damage caused by man's desire to know why Silbury Hill was built became clear. English Heritage yesterday began inviting parties interested in the famous Wiltshire landmark to an open meeting to discuss how to repair the fragile hill.

For what was once a potent symbol of Britain's Neolithic past is now a delicately balanced sponge of chalk with more holes in it than the average piece of Swiss cheese.

Too many archaeologists and treasure hunters, desperate to discover the origins of Europe's biggest Neolithic monument, have left their mark inside the hill. Now it needs some 21st-century technology to stop it collapsing in on itself.

The poor state of the chalk hill became clear at the turn of the Millennium, when a huge hole appeared in the top.

Since then, delicate studies of the rest have discovered that when tunnels and shafts were dug into the hill over the past four centuries, a rather bad job of filling them in was carried out, leaving some parts of the hill unstable.

Now, English Heritage wants to go back into Silbury Hill to finish the job the diggers of 1786, 1849 and 1968 didn't do and fill in the gaps.

It has taken five years for the conservation body to come up with options. In the summer, English Heritage honed in on the best way and since then heritage chiefs have been talking to industry experts to make sure the way they want to make the hill safe is practical. Next month they will consult on their preferred method of shoring up the hill.

A spokesman for English Heritage explained that the option chosen would also present an opportunity to find out more about Silbury and its origins than ever before.

"The option chosen is to re-enter Silbury Hill via the tunnel dug to its centre in 1968 and then remove existing collapse and inadequate backfill in the tunnel before properly backfilling it.

"The tunnel and other voids within the hill would be filled with chalk to the same density as the surrounding mound material.

"The work of backfilling would take place backwards from the centre of the hill and enable contractors to remove any temporary supports left after previous excavations.

"The work would be accompanied by an archaeological investigation programme which would fully record all the parts of the hill which are exposed again and enhance our knowledge of its construction."

In the end, the future of the hill would be assured by monitors placed to check how the new chalk was settling in.

"The benefit of this way forward is that it will return the hill to as near its original state as can be practicably achieved, " he added.

English Heritage now has the task of selling its scheme to the various interest groups, locals and campaigners who have spent the past five years demanding the hill be saved.

It is holding a meeting to discuss the plans, which begins with a short presentation and is then followed by an open discussion.

The meeting takes place at the Corn Exchange in Devizes on November 26 from 11am.

Anyone interested in attending should call Beverley Ballon on 0117 975 0703.

FACT FILE

Silbury Hill is the largest prehistoric monument in Europe. It was built at around the same time as the earliest pyramids in ancient Egypt.

There have been many theories about how it was formed over the years, but no one has been able to prove why it was built, by whom or for what purpose.

It lies just outside the Neolithic stone circle at Avebury and was built at about the same time.

For centuries legend had it that the Devil built the hill. He had planned to dump a huge pile of earth on the town of Devizes, but dropped it on the way.

Later theories reckoned it was a large burial chamber for a prehistoric king.

More modern theories range from Silbury Hill's position at the centre of a vast network of ley lines and Neolithic sites stretching across southern England, to it simply being a hill created from the increasingly desperate attempts by Avebury's early inhabitants to dig out and maintain a freshwater lake.

The only thing archaeologists do know is that it was built in stages, was carefully stepped and contained a processional spiral route to the top.

Perhaps the first serious.

investigation into the hill was carried out in 1776. It failed to find anything inside, but left behind a badly filled in trench.

A further, more professional, excavation was carried out in 1849, followed by an investigation in 1968.
http://www.westpress.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=145809&command=displayContent&sourceNode=145792&contentPK=13412554&moduleName=InternalSearch&formname=sidebarsearch
9 years ago

Comments from an international audience may well help draw attention to this problem.

My interpretation is as follows:

1. Thanks to poorly backfilled archaeological work of the past, Silbury Hill is subsiding.

2. EH only regarded this as urgent when they had no money to spend on it. They were given £500,000 five years ago and have spent all of it on "research".

3. They now want to press forward with a strategy that will make the holes even bigger so they can do more research, then backfill it. This extra work is not needed and will make the final cost perhasp twice or even four times as expensive than simply repairing the collapses.

I think this will be much more expensive and will actually deliver a poor repair solution (the larger the cavity the more difficult it is the shore up) as well as a poor archaeological research project (this is a site for subsidance - the archaeology has moved and been subject to exposure to the sir - the data obtained will be minimal which will increase pressure to expend the holes further in order to deliver solid data.

The last research performed by archaeologists is the 60/70's was lost.

My opinion is that we the public already know the value of this ancient monument and whilst more archaeological research at Silbury might deliver better information regarding the hill it is wrong to try and piggyback archaeological research on an urgent need to repair this amazingly valuable and subsiding structure.

It is clear that our government is not interested in funding such research and this has been seen as a way of obtaining that research via the back door (funded as part of the repairs). I think this idea is flawed. 

9 years ago
Ancient hill's holes to be filled
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire
Silbury Hill dates back to the Neolithic period
Plans to stabilise the ancient Silbury Hill mound in Wiltshire have been unveiled by English Heritage.

The man-made monument, believed to date to the Neolithic period, developed a hole at the top five years ago after the collapse of infilling in a shaft.

There are proposals to remove an inadequate backfill from this and other cavities and replace it with chalk.

English Heritage said it would preserve the long-term stability of the hill while minimising further damage.

Surveys have confirmed that the overall structure is stable, although there are pockets of instability resulting from tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968.

English Heritage is drawing up a brief for contractors to come forward with their proposals for how the work should be done.

The organisation is also looking at how to fund the project.

Regional director Bob Bewley said: "If all goes to plan we're probably looking at some small amount of work during 2006 and then it'll probably happen in the summer of 2007.

"But that's all dependent on what we find when we do further analysis and investigations, when we talk to the possible contractors and the big 64,000-dollar question is finding the money."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/4477192.stm
8 years ago
SILBURY HILL UPDATE

As you may have seen in the Press English Heritage recently announced the appointment of engineering contractor Skanska to take forward the next stage of repair work to Silbury Hill.

Skanska will now begin working with English Heritage to draw up detailed repair plans for the Hill.

The repairs will tackle the damage caused to the Hill after a collapse of the infilling to a shaft at the top of the Hill in 2000.

The brief for engineers was prepared by English Heritage and a team of expert advisors, and its aim is to find the best method for returning the Hill to its original state and preserving its long term stability.

As well as permanently infilling the collapse to the head of the shaft, the works will involve the thorough backfilling of tunnels at the base of the hill, and repair the slumping on the sides of the Hill.

The chosen method for backfilling is to re-enter the Hill through the 1968 Atkinson tunnel to its centre. Skanska won the work after presenting a detailed submission covering practical design and construction techniques, risk management plans and an approach integrating the archaeological and construction elements of the project.

The firm proposes using the Atkinson’s original supports and additional temporary props to keep disturbance of the Hill’s archaeology to an absolute minimum. Archaeologists will be working alongside the contactors to make a record of the internal structure of the Hill and take samples to recover palaeoenvironmental evidence and material for radiocarbon dating.

Skanska has worked with English Heritage on Silbury Hill in the past, contributing to the specialist stability survey work carried out on the Hill since 2000. The firm was selected for this phase of the work because the project board felt their submission best demonstrated how the brief could be safely met with the least risk of disruption to the Hill’s archaeology and within a realistic timeframe and budget.

The development of detailed repair plans is now expected to take six months. Depending on the outcome of this development work, English Heritage hopes to commission the full repairs by Skanska and announce the start of repair work in Spring 2007. The repair project will be accompanied by a programme of archaeological investigation, recording and sampling.

 We are working on the outreach and publicity programme. The relevant pages on the EH website will soon be up-dated which you will be able to access for future information.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert H Bewley
Planning & Development Regional Director
SW English Heritage
8 years ago
Peer's fears over 'pyramid' hill
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire
Silbury Hill dates back more than 4,000 years to the Neolithic period
A peer has compared an ancient monument to the pyramids in a row over the government's right to roam laws.

Lord Avebury says he is "stunned" the Countryside Agency's wants to label Silbury Hill in Wiltshire as "unimproved chalk grassland".

The move could lead to ramblers having free access to the hill, which opponents fear may cause damage.

However, the agency says it took the decision because the 4,700-year-old hill is a "man-made structure".

Silbury Hill is comparable with the ancient Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Pyramids of Mexico"
Lord Avebury
Lord Avebury spoke at the public inquiry into the wording of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act draft legislation.

The act has already sparked one high-profile spat in Wiltshire with pop star Madonna keen to protect her privacy and estate from walkers and inquisitive sightseers.

On Monday Lord Avebury told the hearing, at Hungerford, Berkshire, the hill was "comparable with the ancient Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Pyramids of Mexico".

Silbury Hill, near Avebury, is thought to date back nearly 5,000 years to the Neolithic period.

Archaeologists from English Heritage began investigating the hill four years ago after a hole appeared in the top, prompting fears it could collapse.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3721319.stm

8 years ago
Ancient hill's holes to be filled
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire
Silbury Hill dates back to the Neolithic period
Plans to stabilise the ancient Silbury Hill mound in Wiltshire have been unveiled by English Heritage.

The man-made monument, believed to date to the Neolithic period, developed a hole t the top five years ago after the collapse of infilling in a shaft.

There are proposals to remove an inadequate backfill from this and other cavities and replace it with chalk.

English Heritage said it would preserve the long-term stability of the hill while minimising further damage.

Surveys have confirmed that the overall structure is stable, although there are pockets of instability resulting from tunnels dug in 1776, 1849 and 1968.

English Heritage is drawing up a brief for contractors to come forward with their proposals for how the work should be done.

The organisation is also looking at how to fund the project.

Regional director Bob Bewley said: "If all goes to plan we're probably looking at some small amount of work during 2006 and then it'll probably happen in the summer of 2007.

"But that's all dependent on what we find when we do further analysis and investigations, when we talk to the possible contractors and the big 64,000-dollar question is finding the money."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/4477192.stm