Marlborough Mound: filled with 4,400 years of history

Photo credits: Dr Duncan Pepper / Entrance Gate to Shell Grotto, Marlborough College

04 September 2020

Marlborough mound gates

One might not think of rich history when they hear of a small market town with 8,000 people, but the Wiltshire town of Marlborough is already quite famous among archaeologists and history-enthusiasts. The focus of this attention? A series of Neolithic monuments, such as Marlborough Mound, standing strong on the same spot since 2,400 BC. 

Part of a wider Neolithic complex including Avebury Ring and Silbury Hill, much of the earlier history of the mound is lost and its original purpose unclear. However, one thing all historians agree on is that the purpose of the landmark has changed significantly over time. Many locals also believe that it is the burial site of Merlin – the 12th century legendary figure, best known as a wizard, given the motto of the town of Marlborough ubi nunc sapientis ossa Merlini (where now are the bones of the wise Merlin). 

There is also some evidence the mound was once used as a Roman fort, with the first well-documented records of the site dating back to 1067 when William the Conqueror ordered the Bishop of Salisbury to construct a castle on the mound. Then, through the work of Henry III, the castle expanded to include a chapel and hunting ground. However, by 1541, the castle and the mound were no longer in use and remained ruinous for the next few centuries.  

When King Edward VI passed the site onto the Seymour family, the mound was developed as privately-occupied property and gardens of the stately home.  By 1751, the last remaining member of the family had died, and the stately home became a coaching house. At the height of trade, 42 coaches passed through the Castle Inn each day as Marlborough was conveniently located on the road from London to Bath. 

The most recently documented history of the mound dates to the twentieth century, when it served as the site for a water tank for Marlborough College. Now undergoing restorative works thanks to The Marlborough Mound Trust, the students now use the mound for valuable historical and archaeological lessons 


If you’re looking for a home with links to magic and mystery, our Marlborough community offers the perfect combination of history, intrigue and later living with prices starting from £295,000. If you’re not quite ready to buy, you could still enjoy a Marlborough home with our Lifestory Choices rental offering. Speak to our team today and book a private tour by calling 01672 340012 or emailing [email protected].