Guide to Faringdon & the local area. Discover and enjoy the very best Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the Cotswolds have to offer.

WHITE HORSE HILL

Uffington White Horse is the 2nd largest hill figure after the Whipsnade lion and one of seven in the local area. It is the only one to face right. The horse is dated as 1000BC - others in the area date from the late eighteenth century through to 1937.

This horse was constructed by in-filling with chalk a series of trenches cut to shape into the hillside. (Others were made by turf removal only). There were theories during the 1960s that there had once been the full figure of a horse, the shape we see today being the remains.

White Horse Hill, Uffington

Admission free

Open all year

Disabled parking available close to the White Horse

Large car park

Dogs on leads

National Trust Property

More information on
www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk

The origin of the horse has been the subject of theories for at least 250 years. It has been variously thought to be, amongst other things, a landmark for travellers, a religious icon, and a tribal badge. The myths surrounding the horse include such notions that it leaves the hillside to feed in the Manger; it is gradually climbing up the hill; it goes to Wayland’s Smithy to be shod; turning three times on the horse’s eye grants your wish - (though this practice is not allowed as causes damage).

Some people also think that energy forces within the earth meet at the horse’s eye where they flow out like a fountain, and that sitting on the eye enables you to absorb this energy.

The horse has survived by being regularly cleaned (scoured) by local villagers. The Lord of the Manor was obliged to provide food and entertainment for ‘scourers’ and this developed into the ‘Pastimes’. These were huge two day events with thousands of people attending, - food and drink stalls, sideshows, musicians, were provided and games took place for which people would travel from neighbouring counties.

During WW2 the horse was covered so that it could not be used as a landmark by enemy planes. It was uncovered in 1952 by W F Grimes and local labourers. Grimes was a keen archaeologist and took the opportunity to dig a small trench through the ‘beak’ and record the cross section. Before filling the pit a halfpenny was left at the base. It was the rediscovery of Grimes’ papers which revealed that the horse was three dimensional and could be excavated.

The Oxford Archaeological Unit digs in the early 1990’s confirmed that the shape and position of the horse had changed little, and that it was approximately three thousand years old.

View from White Horse Hill

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