Hello and thank-you for visiting this website.
(thanks to Pete Glastonbury for this photograph of me when I was still the project manager or 'Director of Fieldwork' at Silbury in June 2007)

To go back in time for a moment:

29th August 2007

(email to Fachtna McAvoy from Michael Russell, English Heritage Management)


‘I must instruct you that under no circumstances must you visit the Silbury site.’


My first visit to Silbury had been seven years earlier when I had the privilege of being able to see Silbury Hill from inside the shaft of the 1776 exploration which had re-appeared on the summit of the Hill when its infill subsided.


(deep inside the re-opened 1776 shaft, photo Fachtna McAvoy 2000)


In 2007 I was able to revisit the inside of Silbury again, this time from inside the deliberately re-opened tunnels of 1848 and 1968-69 at the base of the Hill.


 (inside the re-opened Atkinson tunnel, photo Fachtna McAvoy 2007)


In between these times I had, with others, excavated trenches on the top of the Hill; drilled cores by hand on its north side; recorded deposits from inside the crater caused by the collapse of the shaft; recorded the material from inside the Hill which was recovered as cores by Skanska; recorded holes dug for new fencing to deter badgers; and re-exposed the entrance to the 1968-70 tunnel and drilled into its infill.


Alongside these physical activities I participated in (very) many meetings and prepared, collaborated and commented on (very) many documents which firstly identified, quantified and suggested solutions to threats to the future preservation of all of the archaeological evidence for human endeavour and aspirations that Silbury represents; and secondly put forward an accepted and detailed design for the implementation of those solutions. As an aside I also played a part in the delivery of a planning decision that Silbury was a ‘building’ and could not be designated as ‘open access’ land.


I could be involved in all of this because I was an archaeologist with English Heritage (Chief Executive Dr Simon Thurley); the manager of parts of the archaeological work; a member of the Silbury Hill Conservation Project Board and (on occasional secondment) the Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Silbury and for the Avebury part of the World Heritage Site (WHS).


Looking back at this time the highlights for me were discovering the WHS sites for myself and talking to some of the people who cared about them: - in public gatherings in Devizes; in ‘professional’ and ‘academic’ fora; in English Heritage and the National Trust; but above all else in meeting people at Silbury and in Avebury and in discovering a wider WEB-based community of interest and concern.


18th June 2007 (Letter from Brian Kerr FSA to Fachtna McAvoy)


‘You asked me to write to set out the circumstances behind the decision to withdraw you from the management of the Silbury Hill archaeological project last week.’


24th August 2007 (Email sent to 'all' on behalf of Brian Kerr FSA)


Following allegations made against Fachtna, which he vigorously contested, he was withdrawn from the site at Silbury Hill. The subsequent investigation has cleared Fachtna of these allegations.  


Jim Leary will continue to manage the current programme of fieldwork to its completion, while Fachtna remains Project Manager for the assessment, analysis and dissemination programme.'


13th September 2007 (Letter from Brian Kerr FSA to Fachtna McAvoy)


‘At our recent meeting, we agreed that you should remain project manager for the archaeological component of the Silbury Hill project. This was confirmed in the e-mail sent out on my behalf on Friday 24th August. It has since been made clear to me that in agreeing to this I was exceeding my authority.’


So how and why did things come to this?


This website includes documentation from 2007 and 2008 that should help to answer to these questions.

best regards to all