Uffington, White Horse of

Uffington, White Horse of
(Oxfordshire, formerly Berkshire)
   This famous *hill figure certainly existed in the middle of the 12th century, when it is mentioned in a legal document as a landmark, but its true age and purpose have been hotly debated. Aubrey asserted that 'the White Horse was made by Hengist, who bore one on his arms or standard'; in 1738 the Revd Francis Wise said Alfred the Great had it cut to celebrate his victory over the Danes at Ashdown in 871. Archaeologists assigned it to the *Celtic period c.100 bc, because of its style - a disjointed figure composed of single thin lines, with a schematically rendered head (Piggott, 1931). This argument was challenged by supporters of Saxon dating, arguing that traces of a more realistic design remained (Woolner, 1967). In the 1990s, excavation confirmed the Horse's disjointed outline; moreover, luminescent silt dating produced the startlingly early date of c.1000 bc, making stylistic arguments irrelevant (Miles and Palmer, 1995).
   The White Horse needed regular scraping, and in 1677 a tourist noted that 'some that dwell herabout have an obligation upon their lands to repair and cleanse this landmark, or else in time it may turn green'. Thomas Cox, in his edition of Britannia (1720), said it was weeded annually, the workmen ending the day 'in feasting and merriment'. The Scouring of the White Horse, a novel by Thomas Hughes (1857), gives a lively description of the accompanying fair, with stalls, sideshows, and games - including toboganning down the steep hill on the jawbone of a horse.
   Legends and beliefs concerning the White Horse are few. It was sometimes said that *St George killed his dragon on a nearby hill, and that the White Horse is a picture of the saint's horse (according to some), or the dragon itself (according to others). A wish made while standing on the horse's eye would come true. A tradition that it was 'creeping up the hill' makes sense, as the figure's position did change slightly over the centuries.
   ■ Marples, 1949: 28-66; Stuart Piggott, Antiquity 5 (1931), 37-46; Diana Woolner, Folklore 78 (1967), 90-111; David Miles and S. Palmer, Current Archaeology 12: no. 10 (1995), 372-8.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Uffington White Horse — Infobox Mountain Name = Whitehorse Hill Photo = White horse from air.jpg Caption = The White Horse as seen from an altitude of 700 metres Elevation = 261 m (856 ft) Location = Oxfordshire, England Range = Prominence = 79 m Coordinates =… …   Wikipedia

  • Uffington White Horse — Britische Illustration von 1897 Das Uffington White Horse auf der Seite des White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire (Distrikt Vale of White Horse) gilt als das älteste Scharrbild in England. Es handelt sich um das stilisierte Bild eines Pferdes, welches… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • White Horse (disambiguation) — White Horse generally refers to horses with a white coat, pink skin and blue eyes. The term may also refer to:Villages, towns, and cities* City of Whitehorse, Victoria, Australia * Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, named after the White Horse Rapids on… …   Wikipedia

  • White Horse Hill — Britische Illustration von 1897 Das Uffington White Horse auf der Seite des White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire (Distrikt Vale of White Horse) gilt als das älteste Scharrbild in England. Es handelt sich um das stilisierte Bild eines Pferdes, das in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • WHITE HORSE —    name given to the figure of a horse on a hill side, formed by removing the turf, and showing the white chalk beneath; the most famous is one at Uffington, in Berkshire, alleged to commemorate a victory of King Alfred …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Westbury White Horse — The Westbury or Bratton White Horse is a hill figure on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain, approximately convert|2.5|km|abbr=on northeast of Westbury in England. Located on the edge of Bratton Downs and lying just below an Iron Age hill fort, it… …   Wikipedia

  • Cherhill White Horse — The horse in 1892, by the Rev. W. C. Plenderleath The Cherhill White Horse is a hill figure on Cherhill Down, 3.5 miles east of Calne in Wiltshire, England. Dating from the late 18th century, it is the third oldest of several such white horses in …   Wikipedia

  • Kilburn White Horse — The Kilburn white horse, gbmapping|SE516813, is a hill figure formed in the hillside near the village of Kilburn, in North Yorkshire, England. The horse is ft to m|num=318|abbr=no|spell=Commonwealth|precision=0|wiki=yes long by ft to… …   Wikipedia

  • Cherhill White Horse — Das Cherhill White Horse ist ein Scharrbild auf dem Cherhill in Wiltshire, England. Sie stammt aus dem späten 18. Jahrhundert und ist die drittälteste solcher Figuren in Großbritannien.[1] Die Figur wird auch Oldbury White Horse genannt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marlborough White Horse — The Marlborough White Horse, also called the Preshute White Horse, is a hill figure on Granham Hill, a fairly shallow slope of the downland above the village of Preshute, near Marlborough in the county of Wiltshire, England. Dating from 1804, it… …   Wikipedia