Despite extensive excavations and research by archaeologists and others the purpose and function of the structure remains open to speculation. Here is what is known:
- Ranks as the largest prehistoric mound in Europe.
- Dimensions are 37m high, 30m across the top and 500m around the base.
- Construction commenced around 2400 BC but the finish date could be 2300BC or possibly 2000BC.
- Location is on a valley floor close to where the River Kennet rises and where it is joined by the Winterbourne stream.
- Tunnels into the mound were built in 1849 and 1968-9 neither of which provided information on the rationale for the structure.
- The tunnelling did provide an insight into the phases on construction. At outset there was a a very small mound of gravel and clay which was superseded by a larger mound of turf and soil to a height of about 2m.This mound was covered with a capping of chalk and soil to a height of about 5m. Then the main mound was built probably in at least two stages. the first stage used chalk from a ditch or quarries now buried under the mound whilst the last, outer, stage used chalk dug from a huge ditch and ditch extension.Current thinking is the mound grew incrementally as opposed to a few 'bold' stages.
Bear in mind this massive structure was probably built by work teams using only bare hands, antler picks and baskets.
There is no public access to the hill.
Acknowledgement: Core information herein was obtained from a National Trust guidebook on the Avebury site. ISBN 978-1-84359-329-4.