Book Overview (from book cover):

Silbury Hill is an iconic monument within the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, and the largest prehistoric mound in Europe. Written by two authors with unrivalled information and knowldedge of the Hill and combining scholarly research and readable narrative, the book tells the story of the early recognition of its importance and of the later antiquarion and archaeological investigations. Each is described and set within its own historical and political context alongside the extraordinary characters of the time.

For the first time, the results of recent work – the collapse of the summit in 2000 leading to the re-opening of the famous tunnel in 2007 – are set out from first-hand knowledge, and the origins of the monument and construction techniques fully outlined. The book also describes how the mound was seen and used by later communities and considers what Silbury means to people today.


The Story of Silbury Hill is very readable and provides up to date archeological information regarding the Hill and surrounding area. In 2000 a hole appeared on the top of Silbury Hill.  The hole was caused by a period of heavy rain causing previous archaological excavations and tunnels to collapse. This is the story from two of the archaologists that worked on the site whilst English Heritage decided on the best way to secure the Hill for future generations.

We are told of the archeological history of Silbury Hill and the characters that undertook the investigations.  The book also explains how the Hill was constructed in several stages and how it connects up with the wider landscape. We are also told of the problems caused by the previous excavations and what was done to try and repair the damage.

Many photographs and diagrams accompany the text, which made the book a joy to read.  There is a comprehensive index and bibliography, essential for any good reference book

11 Comments CherryPie on Jul 26th 2014

11 Responses to “The Story of Silbury Hill by Jim Leary and David Field”

  1. One is very tempted to wonder why… but there again, why not? We do some things just because we can. What reasons do the authors suggest? I think I recall it is not a burial mound. We have some much smaller burial mounds in my area of Perthshire, and a possibly artificial mound at Scone used to crown monarchs. Maybe the people a Silbury just wanted a nice viewpoint on top of which to sit and rest awhile. I have stopped beside it and wondered.

    • …and is it obvious where all that soil was taken from? When Romans made smaller structures the nearby ditches created by removing the material are obvious.

      • CherryPie says:

        There are lots of similar mounds throughout the world. The authors do not settle on a specific reason they consider various interpretations such as a ceremonial hill, viewing platform, maybe connected to the other sites in the landscape such as Avebury. It wasn’t built all in one go, but in several stages.

        Some of the mound will have come from the ditch. But inside the archaeologists found different types of earth and stones. They appeared in layers and not all from the immediate area.

  2. ....peter:) says:

    Thank you for this book review Cherie… i just spent a half hour reading about Silbury Hill online… it was very interesting… and now it’s time for me to go to bed… goodnight:)

  3. ubermouth says:

    I find history and archeology fascinating topics.