Visitors to Summer School are frequently intrigued by the large mound at the heart of the Marlborough College grounds. We are therefore pleased to share this new 35-minute documentary which explores the past, present and future of the Marlborough Mound. This film uncovers the history of the mound, explaining its legacy to those unaware of its profound importance, and to those curious about the unknown.
Telling stories of the local area dating back to the Mound's construction in around 2400 bc, and including key moments of Neolithic heritage, Norman royal occupation and prestigious 18th-century garden and landscape design, the film focuses on a great panoply of human interactions with this extraordinary ancient monument.
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The film stands as an historic document: a record of how the modern world of archaeology investigates and speculates about the origins of the Mound. But the film also presents at least three rival strands of interpretation of this historic site, urging viewers to question their own understanding and beliefs about the Mound.
Should the Mound be seen as an ancient ritual site associated with the worship of water and fertility by early farming communities? Or should it rather be seen as the burial site of Merlin, as claimed in the Marlborough town motto, "Where now are the bones of wise Merlin"? Did the succession of kings and queens who frequented the royal castle on the site believe that Merlin was trapped for eternity in the Mound? What did poets in receipt of Lady Hertford's patronage think, as they recited their works in her shell grotto for the delight of her fellow 'nymphs and muses'?
This film covers popular myths, newly discovered scientific evidence from carbon-dating and cultural evolution in the hands of Lady Hertford and the Seymour family; and, in doing so, covers 4,500 years of national heritage. Most of all, the film urges us not to regard this remarkable monument as 'an artefact' whose story has ended, but as a living, changing being whose mystery continues to draw in and enchant those whose minds remain open to the magic of this place.
The production of this film was made possible only through the imagination and generosity of Eric Elstob, a former Marlborough College student who left a legacy to found the Mound Trust. Thanks are due also to Michael Macfadyen, Chairman of the Mound Trust, and to his fellow Trustees. Much of the research for the script and screenplay, including the interviewing, was carried out by recent Old Marlburians; Sophie Kidwell, Georgia Stratham, Will Perry, Maeve Mahony, Molly Macaire, Sarah Whitham and Marcus Miller.