« PreviousContinue »
protest against it, I imagine that I do not stand alone, but am only echoing the sentiments of very many, and some of these no mean Archaeologists, among whom I am proud to enumerate Aubrey and Stukeley of old time, and of our own day, the late Dean of Hereford, and that prince of Anglo-Saxon scholars, the late Mr. Kemble; both of whom (unless I very much misunderstood them at the time) as well as many other influential members of the Institute who were present on the occasion, gave it as their opinion, not that the sepulchral theory as regarded Silbury must be abandoned, but only that we failed to prove it to be something more than theory, by not being so fortunate as to hit upon the exact spot in our excavations. With considerable diffidence of my own knowledge of the subject, but backed by such well-known names, I proceed to give a short description of the great tumulus, and then to consider its probable origin: remarking by the way, that gigantic as the work is, we can find no allusion to it in any early writer, unless we accept the suggestion (for which there seem to be scarcely sufficient grounds,) that possibly the “heaping the pile of Cywrangon” mentioned in the Welsh Triads, as one of the three mighty labours of the island of Britain, may be applied to Silbury."
SILBURY stands on the extreme edge of a short spur or promontory of down, jutting out Northwards towards Avebury, and is nearly South of the great Circle, and midway between the extremities of the avenues:* that is, assuming that there was a second avenue, and that it ended where Stukeley fancied. Its general mass is composed of chalk, earth, and rubble taken from the surrounding soil, and is covered with the short close turf for which our downs are so famous:” but by the kind assistance of Mr. Cunnington (who also furnished me with some of the details of the accompanying section) I am enabled to give an accurate description of the com
1 Sir R. C. Hoare's Ancient Wilts, ii., 83. Davies' Celtic Researches. * Stukeley's Abury, p. 41. “Abury illustrated,” by William Long, Esq., M.A., in Wiltshire Magazine, vol. iv., p. 337. * Professor Buckman found forty species of plants on Silbury Hill, and considers that it furnishes a good example of the flora of a limestone district.