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ency to guide us, which lead us back towards the maze of antiquity, and enable us to refer its origin to a very remote period. In the first place I am strongly of opinion that Stukeley' and Sir Richard Hoare” were correct in their assertion that the Roman road was turned from its usually straight course a little to the South of Silbury, to avoid passing through it; and though Rickman * denies that it was so turned, and Mr. W. Long “entertains the same opinion, yet I would ask with the late Dean of Hereford” that people should stand at the hillock or grave where the present Bath road crosses the Roman road half-a-mile West of Beckhampton, and judge for themselves, whether or no the latter does not deflect to the right to avoid Silbury, and whether, if it had not done so, it would not have cut the hill at one third of its base." I have very carefully examined the ground, and followed the road over and over again at all seasons of the year, but more especially in winter, at the beginning of a thaw, when the snow which is melted from the surrounding fields, clings somewhat longer to the old road, and marks its course most unmistakeably. And I have the strong corroborative testimony of Mr. Pinniger, through whose land at Beckhampton the road runs, and who, living on the spot, has continual opportunities of observation at all seasons, and who will bear me out in my assertion, that the crops of corn ripening somewhat earlier on the track of the Roman road than in the surrounding fields, mark its course just before harvest very clearly. Now at both these seasons we can trace the old road much nearer to Silbury than at any other time of the year, and the testimony of all those who have had their attention called to it agrees in affirming that even East of Beckhampton the road runs straight for Silbury, but afterwards turns Southward to avoid it. In reply to Mr. Long's argument that a line ruled on the Ordnance Map between Overton Hill and Morgan's Hill would pass to the South of Silbury, and that therefore Stukeley's view, [“that the Roman road in its course from Overton Hill to Runway Hill (or Morgan's Hill) should have passed directly through Silbury Hill, wherefore they curved a little Southward to avoid it”] is incorrect: I would submit, that the ridge of steep downs which the road has to cross between Morgan's Hill and Beckhampton forbad so direct a line as the Romans delighted in where practicable, and that the road is necessarily turned considerably to the South by the sharp backbone of down, along which it runs, long before it approaches Beckhampton: but that on descending to the more level plain in which Silbury stands, it makes directly for the very centre of the hill. And again on the East of Silbury, the small fragment of Roman road which remains points straight for the middle of our mound, and I apprehend that a line connecting those nearest portions of the Roman road which still exist East and West of the hill, would pass directly through the middle of Silbury. Again, we must remember that the Roman road from Bath to London, passing through Spye Park and Verlucio or Wans, and crossing Morgan’s Hill, did not make for the town of Marlborough, but for the lower Cunetio or Mildenhall, considerably to the North of Marlborough : and a straight line ruled on the Ordnance Map from Mildenhall to Werlucio will be found to bisect Silbury: the general direct line therefore seems to be kept throughout, though the nature of the ground may cause here and there a divergence. Moreover I apprehend that though the plough has now effaced all traces of the Roman road throughout a great part of its course over our downs, the case was otherwise 150 years since, and that when Stukeley described its course as making directly for Silbury and then curving Southwards to avoid it, and published the sketches which he made on the spot to aid his description, he was making no imaginary drawings or assertions, but only describing what he could see clearly before him; whereas at this date and under present circumstances, we can only conjecture where the road passed, from those fragments of it which we see at some distance on either side of the hill." Now it is manifest that if this opinion is correct, Silbury must be of anterior date to the formation of the Roman road, and consequently prior to the occupation of this country by the Romans. Moreover, this is not a solitary instance of the respect with which the Romans in Britain treated barrows, (a respect the more marked from their general unwillingness to deviate for any consideration from the invariable straight line,) for the course of the Roman road from Old Sarum to Ad Axium, (opposite Brean Down, the Port on the Severn,) diverges in like manner, as Sir Richard Hoare” has shown, and as Mr. Scarth has pointed out in his able paper on “Ancient Sepulchral Tumuli.” But, notwithstanding what Mr. Rickman and “Cyclops Christiands” may have said in disparagement of its age, it is probable that Silbury was already of considerable antiquity long before the Roman road was planned. By some it has been held to be the work of the Belgae, those marauding invaders, who, landing on the Southern coasts, gradually penetrated farther and farther inland: but if the Wansdike was (as is generally allowed) the fourth and last of the great boundary ditches which they formed as they increased their territory and advanced more and more into the heart of the country from the South, and if it defines the most Northern limit which the Belgic kingdom ever attained; it is obvious that they never reached so far as Silbury, which lies two miles or more to the North of Wansdike; and even if they sometimes passed their border, it is not to be supposed they would have selected the enemy's country, as the site of so gigantic a work.” Again, the absence of all relics, and the blank results of the tunnel in 1849 have been adduced by some in conclusive proof of the non-sepulchral origin of Silbury: but I think that those who hold the opposite view, and still maintain their belief in the existence of interments therein, may fairly argue from the same grounds in favour of its great antiquity: for when the only substances of which the arms and domestic implements of the primitive races were formed, were of bone or of flint and stone, we can readily imagine that comparatively few of that sort would be met with, their probable scarcity, and the obvious difficulty of recognizing them being considered; whereas when bronze and iron came into use, particles at least of those metals, from their greater durability and greater likelihood to attract observation on the part of the antiquary, would, in so large an excavation, have in all probability come to light had they existed at the period of the raising of the mound. Therefore, though I by no means attach great weight to the argument, it may, (I think) be fairly stated, and weighed for as much as it is worth, that the absence of even the smallest particles of bronze or iron indicates a period prior to the age of metals. And as the absence of all relics seems to me to bespeak its antiquity, so no less does the absence of all allusion to the hill in old writers point the same way: for had it been thrown up during the age of letters, or had even the tradition of its erection, its date, its founders, or its object come down to the period when the Romans occupied this country, it is inconceivable that no mention of so grand a work would have been made: whereas I can easily imagine, that when no record and no tradition of its intention existed, and the very memory of the race who raised it had passed away, and the Romans found it the same grand but mysterious tumulus, which we see it to be now, they might easily pass it by without mention, having indeed nothing to record regarding it. Moreover, we have seen that the simple earthwork unsupported by stone or brick, was the most early method of commemorating their dead, among nations the most uncivilized, and of the greatest antiquity: indeed if it be true that the Cimmerians when expelled from the shores of the Euxine (as Homer relates) proceeded West; were called Celts and Gauls; spread over France and England," and were our British ancestors, as some have conjectured; we know that their practice was to heap a vast tumulus of earth over their dead long before the Scythians took possession of their country, a recollection of which custom they must have carried with them when
* Abury, p. 43.
*Idem, p. 92. The author of the “Lost Solar System of the Ancients discovered,” also declares that the Roman road diverges South to avoid Silbury
Hill, and then continues its direct course, (i., 417).
* See Stukeley's Maps of the Roman road curving round Silbury in his work on Abury, Tab. viii., p. 15, Tab. xxvii., p. 52. *Ancient Wilts, ii., 39. * Page 6. * Sir R. C. Hoare's Ancient Wilts, ii, 16, 18: et seq : Stukeley's Itinerarium Curiosum, i. 134, 181. Archaeological Journal, xvi. 157.
they migrated westwards B.C. 1500;" and may have bequeathed to their descendants here. But it is idle to speculate farther on such uncertain data, with no reliable proofs to guide us, though it would add immensely to its interest to feel assured (what in reality is not unlikely) that Silbury is contemporaneous with the siege of Troy, the wanderings of Ulysses, and the period when Jephtha judged Israel. I have purposely deferred to this place all mention of other British mounds of large dimensions, because I cannot discover that any of them have been explored internally, and therefore they can throw no light on our subject, but stand in the same category as Silbury, and what applies to one will be applicable in great degree to all, for I entertain the opinion that they were almost all thrown up for sepulchral purposes, to whatever uses they may afterwards have been applied. I cannot however close this paper without giving a brief account of some of the largest with which I am acquainted. The first to which I call attention is Cruckbarrow Hill, three miles S.E. of Worcester, and in the chapelry of Whittington or Witenton: it forms from its situation a very conspicuous feature in the landscape, but differs from Silbury in not being entirely artificial, as it is evidently raised on a pre-existing natural eminence of red marl, the prevailing soil of the surrounding country. It is of an irregular elliptical form, and only rises at all abruptly on the East and South sides, the first rise from the natural eminence on the North being so gradual, that only a conventional line can be taken in measuring the entire circumference: it is but fortyeight feet in perpendicular height,” though it has a circumference
* Perhaps the date I have given is scarcely early enough. Bateman says that scholars and chronologists assign the date B.C. 2100 for the passage of the Celts across the Thracian Bosporus; and B.C. 1600 for their immigration to England.
* When I read this paper before the Society at Avebury, I erroneously stated that Cruckbarrow exceeded Silbury in dimensions, as I relied on the measurement given in a printed guide book of the locality, and very kindly re-examined by the author at my particular desire, and repeated by him. But the figures given seemed so strangely at variance, that I could not satisfy myself without personal examination: and I subsequently made a pilgrimage to Worcester for the express purpose of measuring this tumulus, when I found the