HILLS & BARBROOK
My debut novel ‘The Hidden Bones’ is set amongst the ancient chalk uplands of the Marlborough Downs in the county of Wiltshire. The area is blessed with some of the finest prehistoric sites in the world, such as Avebury henge and stone circle, and Silbury Hill. It is home to hundreds of tumuli and megalithic monuments and has produced some of the most spectacular archaeological finds to grace any museum in Britain.
VALE AND DOWNS
The Wiltshire settings include not only the Marlborough Downs but also the beautiful Vale of Pewsey. The Vale is where Dr David Barbrook lives in his painstakingly renovated timber-framed house. D.I. Sally Treen is based in the lovely old market town of Devizes. Here the Wiltshire Museum houses one of the most spectacular Bronze Age collections in the country.
SEA AND SKY
The Bronze Age goldwork found by Gerald Hart in the excavation of the Hungerbourne Barrow cemetery is based on real finds made at Wilsford in the Stonehenge landscape. A gold and amber sun disc identical to the one in ‘The Hidden Bones’ was found in the Manton Barrow on the Marlborough Downs. Clare Hills investigations also take her to St Mary’s church perched high on the east cliff above Whitby. I got to know and love this area when I was digging on a site in North Yorkshire. But it’s not this remarkable little church’s first appearance in fiction – Bram Stoker featured its graveyard in Dracula.
Archaeologists use experiments to help understand the way things were built and used in the past. Like the enormous ceremonial southern timber circle discovered at Durrington Walls in the Stonehenge landscape. We also carry out experiments to replicate ancient burial and cremation techniques – much like the pyre Gerald had planned in the Hidden Bones.
Everything you can imagine is real”
As a writer I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination but as an archaeologist I’ve been fortunate that sometimes reality has exceeded even my wildest imaginings. Here I am inside Silbury Hill. I’m standing in one of the now filled and sealed tunnels that were dug in 1968 to reach into the heart of the great mound.