This beautiful hill carving, lying close to Uffington Hillfort in Oxfordshire is best viewed from a distance but can be accessed by walking uphill from the signposted carpark. The horse is 110m long and carved through the grass into chalk and has been dated to between 1400 and 600BC making it roughly 3,000 years old!
It’s very stylised and created by pulling away the turf to reveal the mostly white chalkstone underneath. This is the oldest of all the chalkstone monuments in southern England and they are all totally unique in the world, only the Nazca lines in Peru in anyway use the natural surface of the ground to create something so special.
Iron Age coins that bear a representation comparable to the Uffington White Horse have been found, supporting the early dating of this artefact; counter suggestions that the figure was fashioned in the Anglo-Saxon period now seem untenable.
Traditionally for centuries the local people would climb the hill and scour the chalk one day every year and at the same time feast and drink together making it a community event. At times the horse and other similar monuments have almost vanished as without maintenance the chalk would soon turn grey and be covered by grass.
Ironically, you have a much better view of the horse from almost anywhere but on the hill itself and in fact it can been from miles away. However after initially deciding I didn’t have to see it up close, I decided I may as well so had to re-ascend the hill. Sadly it was impossible to be within inches of it as the horse was taped off but I was extremely close by which was good enough.
The Uffington Whitehorse has been very important culturally in music and literature and it is said that it is here that King Alfred The Greats army camped in 871 the night before the Battle of Ashdown against the Vikings. The great King summoned his men by blowing into another neolithic stone, handily known as Blowstone about 1 mile away and so creating something of a trumpeting effect.
For another famous chalk figure check out my post on the Cerne Abbas Giant!