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Marlborough care provider rated 'Good' by regulator

24-09-2018

After an inspection by the Care Quality Commission, the Marlborough based care provider Innovations Wiltshire Limited have been rated overall as providing a 'Good' service.

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Temporary Finance Officer - Marlborough St Mary's Primary School

24-09-2018

  Temporary Finance Officer   Marlborough St Mary's Primary School     The Governors of Marlborough St Mary’s are seeking to appointa highly motivated and capable, temporary Finance Officer to join the team in our happy, successful school.  You will be responsible for maintaining the school budget and contracts as well as day to day running...

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Hockey: Gold medal player Laura Unsworth's visit to inspire Marlborough Hockey Club's teeming teams of juniors

23-09-2018

Marlborough Hockey Club's juniors turn out for their Sunday training sessions - by the score and, quite obviously, whatever the weather.  This Sunday (September 23) was special - it was the Club's Open Day and they were welcoming a very VIP visitor.

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Pewsey Parish Council's campaign to lessen use of plastics

21-09-2018

On Saturday (September 22) Pewsey Parish Council is launching a campaign to encourage people in their area to use less plastics.

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Marlborough Rugby: Nomads sweep Corsham 2nds aside with a thirteen try performance

21-09-2018 marlborough.news rugby correspondent

Nomads 85 - 5 Corsham 2nd XV   The Nomads - Marlborough 2nds - assembled a large squad on a perfect day for playing rugby for the first home league fixture on the Common and delivered a result against Corsham 2nd XV with a score that wouldn't have been out of place...

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The Man Booker Prize is 50 years old - you can help choose the best ever winner at Marlborough LitFest…

20-09-2018

For authors, publishers and readers alike, the Man Booker Prize is probably the most prestigious prize in English literature. This year it is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary - but which is the best of all the Booker winning titles?

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Tourism: the Great West Way is already being marketed by international travel agents

20-09-2018

The Great West Way, the tourist initiative that is being led by VisitWiltshire, launches officially in November - but travel agents such as the Dutch company House of Britain, are already marketing tours Great West Way tours - so long as their tours start after launch date.

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'Englisches Frühstück' in Westphalia, courtesy of Marlborough's Sumblers butchers

19-09-2018

Like carrying coals to Newcastle, taking british sausages back to Germany, the land of the Wurst is an unlikely concept.  But this is exactly what Uli Offerman from Westphalia is now doing since he discovered the delights of the sausages and bacon created by longstanding Marlborough family butchers, Sumblers.

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Modern Slavery: Two arrested in a High Street Nail Bar following proactive patrols by Police

19-09-2018

  Two people were arrested in Marlborough yesterday following patrols relating to modern slavery.  Officers have been conducting patrols of the High Street over the past day looking out for signs of exploitation.  At 5pm yesterday, 18 September, they attended a nail bar on the High Street and located a 17-year-old...

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Author William Boyd at the Marlborough LitFest: his reading list gives extra context to his new novel

19-09-2018 Angus MacLennan

To celebrate the publication today (September 20) of his new novel Love is Blind and his imminent appearance at the Marlborough LitFest, we asked William Boyd to offer a list of suggested reading on the themes and places which appear in the book - and he kindly obliged.

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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.

 

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