News dot2left cropped500pxt
  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07-2
  • D4S9273
  • ARK Manton -2012-01-14 49-
  • Bluebells-in-West-Woods-10-05-09------30
  • TdB-Pewsey 044
  • 4MI-2013-11-28 030
  • D4S0472
  • Duke-of-Kent 086
  • Christmas-Lights 15-11-20 097
  • Mop-Fair---10-10-09------08
  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters-2
  • Big-Bull
  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-2
  • Landscape
  • Xmas-Lights-2011-11-24 10
  • Jazz Fest Sat 572
  • Civic Selfie1
  • Torch-2012-05-23 093-
  • IMG 9097-2
  • MYFC 005
  • Camilla-2012-10-19 152
  • IMG 8472-2
  • Sunset2
  • D812668
  • Hares 017cropped

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New table tennis table for Marlborough's Youth Centre, courtesy of Rotary

23-06-2018

Yesterday, Friday 22 June, Marlborough's recently rejuvenated Youth Centre on St Margaret's Mead took posession of a new table tennis table, fully equipped with a stock of bats and table tennis balls.  Provided by Marlborough's Rotary Club, President Cedric Hollinsworth was there to hand the bats, balls and table over...

Read more

Marlborough Rugby's promotions-winning 1st XV applauded by Mayor Lisa Farrell for last season's outstanding achievement

22-06-2018

Marlborough Rugby Club's 1st XV will next year be rubbing shoulders with some of the bigger clubs in the South West.  Last night (Thursday 21 June) their achievement in gaining promotion to a new level of competition was recognised by Mayor Councillor Lisa Farrell when she publicly thanked the team...

Read more

All change on the High Street - sign of regeneration?

22-06-2018 Sue Round

The Rohan store opened a few weeks ago and now a new independent retailer, Willow & Wolf is coming to Marlborough at 95 High Street, the site formerly occupied by FatFace.

Read more

New Sponsor for Marlborough Rugby Club - Vets4Pets

20-06-2018

Marlborough's Vets4Pets, locally owned veterinary practice located on Marlborough Business Park alongside Tesco and Budgen have committed to a 3 year sponsorship arrangement with Marlborough Rugby Club, which will include new kit for the Junior Team.

Read more

Service Delivery Assistant - Full Time - Foregenix Ltd

20-06-2018

Service Delivery Assistant Full Time    Foregenix Ltd is a leading global independent information security consultancy, headquartered in the United Kingdom with additional offices in South Africa, South America, Australia, continental Europe and the United States, and we support a wide range of organisations across the globe. We are growing rapidly and from...

Read more

Police raid Marlborough address and seize a number of vintage firearms

20-06-2018

  Police last night (Tuesday 19 June) raided an address just off Kingsbury Street and siezed a number of vintage firearms.   No arrests were made and no-one was injured.  

Read more

MantonFest to be 'Walking on Sunshine' on Saturday next week

20-06-2018

MantonFest will be here again on Saturday next week (30 June).  Great bill of national/local favourites - Katrina of the Waves will be Walking on Sunshine, Quo, or more precisely John Coghlan's Quo will be reminding us (of a certain age) why we spent so many hours 'Rockin' all over...

Read more

Volunteer Drivers - Kennet Community Transport

20-06-2018

Kennet Community Transport   Volunteer Drivers reqiuired       Kennet Community Transport is a charity, and run on a shoestring.  It takes old people to the Jubilee Centre and on outings, and has one employee - Roly the driver.We need volunteer drivers to cover when Roly is sick or on holiday.  And we need a...

Read more

FROTH being brewed up in Burbage over the change of use application for the Three Horseshoes

19-06-2018

Although Burbage's 'Three Horseshoes' at Stibb Green has closed and ceased to trade as a public house, a group of Burbage residents who used to regard the pub as their local and an important cornerstone of the village community are banding together to oppose the change of use application submitted...

Read more

Ogbourne Maizey Fly-Tipper caught after witness’s tip off

19-06-2018

  A fly-tipper was issued a fixed penalty notice of £400 after a vigilant citizen tipped off Wiltshire Council when he saw the culprit dumping a van-load of rubbish in a country lane.The quick-thinking witness watched the man unload cardboard boxes and carpet on a verge off Rockley Road, Ogbourne Maizey,...

Read more

merlins' mount

 

How Marlborough’s Mound turned out to be Silbury Hill’s little sister

Click an image to enlarge...

The huge and hidden mound that stands in the middle of Marlborough College was called by some of the more fanciful guidebooks “Merlin’s Mount” and has even been described as Merlin’s burial mound.

More reliable sources thought the sixty-two foot (nineteen metre) high mound was constructed by those domineering incomers from Normandy so they could build Marlborough’s castle on top of it and so lord it over the townsfolk down below.  

Then, in 2011, new scientific research confirmed that the mound was built long England had a king.  Carbon dating of pieces of charcoal found deep within the mound proved it was built three thousand and more years before the first Normans rode into town.  

Dated now to about 2400BC, Marlborough’s mound becomes the ‘little sister’ to the world famous Silbury Hill – which dominates the skyline just westwards along the A4 toward Bath. The definitive dating of the Mound has been called the most significant archaeological discovery in Britain so far this century.

In an expensive and delicate operation, probes were drilled into the middle of the mound and surrounding ditch areas, and the carbon dating of the samples was carried out with the help of English Heritage.  Six cores were drilled and four samples taken from different levels within the mound itself provided shards of charcoal that could be carbon dated.

This discovery makes Marlborough’s mound the second largest man-made, prehistoric construction in Britain.  And as Silbury is the largest such mound in all Europe, Marlborough’s mound should in turn become the second largest man-made mound in Europe.

The mound has had three distinct ‘lives’: it was the base structure for a very important royal castle built by the Normans, used at times by Norman and Plantagenet kings and the scene for some historic events such as the general oath of allegiance to King John in 1209.

The castle then passed from the Kings of England to their queens and eventually fell into disuse, before coming into the hands of the Seymour family famous as owners of the local Wolf Hall estate and for Henry VIII’s Queen Jane.  Another ‘life’ started in the eighteenth century, when a house on the site was home to the Marquis of Hertford and his family, and Lady Hertford created a wonderful and extravagant garden - with the mound as its centre piece.  

Lady Hertford gave the mound an extraordinary spiral ramp right round the outside, shielded from the common gaze by a hawthorn hedge.  And she adorned it with several notable features including a shell grotto, a belvedere or viewing point and a water feature at the summit. The Hertford’s home later became The Castle Inn and a meeting place for Tory politicians.  It has since become part of the College buildings.

As befits a scheduled monument, it has long been strictly out of bounds to college students. Although there’s some hearsay evidence that those trees and Lady Hertford’s shell grotto have, in days gone by, provided cover for the occasional illicit smoker.

The groundbreaking exploratory work that led to the Mound’s dating – and the many years of careful conservation still to come – was made possible by initial gifts and a £1,200,000 legacy from former college student, Eric Elstob.  On his initiative, the Marlborough Mound Trust was set up in 2000 and the first investigative work begun.

The Marlborough mound is at the moment covered with trees and voracious ground cover, mainly ivy.  Eventually the trees – some near the summit are thirty-two feet tall - and the ivy will be removed. This must be done very slowly and carefully. Although the vegetation is degrading the mound, too sudden removal would destabilise the whole structure and might lead to collapses of parts of the mound.

The conservation and restoration process could take several decades.  But completion of the work has been guaranteed by the Marlborough Mound Trust.   Its benefactor, Eric Elstob was a student at Marlborough College from 1956 to 1960.  He died of cancer in 2003 aged sixty. He was an enthusiastic conservationist, loved London’s many churches designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor and was instrumental in the restoration of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, at Spitalfields.
Work to investigate, conserve and restore the mound began ten years ago. Already the twentieth century metal water tank has been removed from the mound’s summit where it had replaced first Lady Hertford’s water feature and had later been used as a reservoir for gardeners and local fire wardens.

The grotto and its shell decoration has already been renovated. This grotto was dug into the side of the mound for Lady Hertford who was a lady-of-the-bedchamber to George II’s wife Queen Caroline. It was once used by college boys as a bike shed.

In 2012, work began to re-establish a section of Lady Hertford’s unique spiral ramp. This will be a test to see whether it will eventually be possible restore the whole feature right around the cone of the mound – as the architect in charge of the conservation has put it, it will be putting “the jelly mould back on the jelly.”  The idea is not to change the mound’s structure but to consolidate it.

However, the mound is on the college’s private property and access for the general public is not possible.  So, unusually for a scheduled monument of such importance, it cannot automatically become a new tourist attraction for Marlborough.

The trustees of the Marlborough Mound Trust have a difficult job on their hands.  Their main aims as a charity are to ‘restore, conserve, preserve and maintain the mound’. But they are also pledged to ‘educate the public about the archaeological and historic significance and merits of the mound.’

And at some point in the future, when the restoration is much further on, access for the public will surely have to become possible - even if only on specific ‘open days’ during college holidays.  But it’s most unlikely people will ever be free to walk up the mound.  Just as tourists must admire Silbury Hill from ground level, so it would be too risky to subject such an ancient structure as the Marlborough mound to the tramp of thousands of twenty-first century feet.

 

back to 'visiting marlborough'

Print Email

  • Camilla-2012-10-19 152
  • IMG 8472-2
  • ARK Manton -2012-01-14 49-
  • Mop-Fair---10-10-09------08
  • Hares 017cropped
  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-2
  • IMG 9097-2
  • Big-Bull
  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters-2
  • Xmas-Lights-2011-11-24 10
  • Torch-2012-05-23 093-
  • TdB-Pewsey 044
  • D812668
  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07-2
  • Civic Selfie1
  • Christmas-Lights 15-11-20 097
  • Landscape
  • Sunset2
  • Jazz Fest Sat 572
  • D4S0472
  • MYFC 005
  • Bluebells-in-West-Woods-10-05-09------30
  • Duke-of-Kent 086
  • 4MI-2013-11-28 030
  • D4S9273