Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On Silbury Hill

Whenever I hear Peter Gabriel's song Solsbury Hill, about a spiritual experience the singer had on top of the Somerset hill and his leaving the group Genesis, I always imagine he's singing about the Neolithic Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (other people mishear the song as Salisbury Hill, which sounds nearer to Solsbury than Silbury; however, there is no Salisbury Hill but there is a Salisbury Plain). Silbury Hill, standing 40 metres high (similar in size to the smaller Egyptian pyramids) and dating back almost five thousand years (also around the time of the pyramids), is the largest man-made hill in Europe and one of the largest in the world. No one knows its purpose, but its close proximity to both Avebury and Stonehenge indicates a spiritual or cultural reason for the mound.

Since leaving late last year, Wiltshire has become like my spiritual home (not somewhere I'd necessarily want to live, but great to visit). This last bank holiday weekend – which started with a royal wedding and ended in the assassination of the world's most wanted man – I spent in Wiltshire where I managed to 'tick' most things I love about the county (aside from the obvious – my daughter and ex-partner): car boot sales, cheap(ish) charity shops, Avebury, Silbury Hill, Devizes, morris dancers, a Punch and Judy show, great weather, rolling hills… and a crop circle. This is the third one spotted in the UK this year so far (the first in the world was found in a rice field near Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia), and the second in Wiltshire. Situated in a 'magical' area for crop circles – on a hill over-looking Silbury Hill, close to the West Kennet Long Barrow and Avebury, it's not a particularly great example – probably because it was produced in a oilseed rape field which I guess is a more difficult crop to manipulate than wheat. Still, it's not bad and it felt good being in one again and knowing that crop circle season has officially started in Wiltshire.


Mel said...

Ah, bless you!

And that'll be oilseed rape. I don't think there are any oil fields in Wiltshire.

Barnaby said...

Thanks. Corrected.