The Marlborough Mound

The construction of a great mound began just over 4,000 years ago, resulting in the monument now dominating the centre of the College. It is the second biggest Neolithic mound in Europe; the largest is Silbury Hill, located five miles to our west. The Marlborough Mound is a 19-metre monument that has been carbon dated to 2,400 BC. It is part of a spectacular ancient landscape which includes the stone circle of Avebury, the Kennet long barrows and other great archaeological treasures. The Mound is said to be the burial place of the wizard Merlin, and the town of Marlborough’s motto is ‘Ubi nunc sapientis ossa Merlini’ (‘Where now lie the bones of wise Merlin’).

Since the site became a school, it is believed that the Mound has played an important role in occasions of investiture and celebration. There is a fascinating painting from the mid-19th century hanging in the Master’s Lodge showing pupils processing around the Mound in what is thought to be the appointment of scholars. In the modern era, the Shell year group are invited to take part in the annual tradition of ‘ad Montem’, which translates as ‘to the Hill’, a ceremony of welcome to mark the start of their time at the College.

The Marlborough Mound Trust was established in 2000 at the suggestion of Eric Elstob (C2 1956-60) whose vision was ‘to restore, conserve, preserve and maintain the Mound at Marlborough College and its immediate curtilage as a place of historic and public interest’ and ‘to educate the public about the archaeological and historical significance and merits of the Mound’.

He left a remarkable legacy which has enabled the Trust to work on the restoration and research of this complex monument and their website contains a full record of the Marlborough Mound’s history, archaeology and significance