The White Horse of Uffington has a long sleek back, thin disjointed legs, a streaming tail and bird-like beaked head. Unfortunately the best view is from the air but it would be quite marvellous to see it up close.
Excavation in 1990 by Simon Palmer and David Miles of the Oxford Archaeological Unit confirmed deposits of fine silt removed from the horse's 'beak' were scientifically dated to the late Bronze Age,sometime between 1380 and 550 BC. These researchers also discovered the figure was cut into the hill up to a metre deep, not just scratched into the chalk surface.
Last year (Mar 2017) the National Trust reported that a geophysical survey showed the remains of a second stylised figure (360 feet tall) on a nearby hillside which has been christened the * Uffington White Duck.* It is thought that the figure may be the ancient symbol of a local tribe who venerated wild mallards.
I’m very interested in the way art knowledge is passed from one person to another, one group to another. As you have often read in my blog, I make every effort to link art influences to dispel the idea that artists are ensconced in their isolated studios thinking up images in a vacuum. On this note, the Uffington White Horse and those discussed below have inspired a sculpture by Julie Livsey titled White Horse Pacified (1987) and is now part of the West Swindon, Wiltshire Sculpture trail.
There other geoglyphs in England including giants, crosses & regimental badges. Most of them are only a few hundred years old.
I have ancestors from both Oxfordshire and Wiltshire who probably would have seen these incredible horse images but sadly I have not. One of my subscribers is off on a tour of England this year so we hope she will see one of these geoglyphs and relay the experience to us.
Where to next? I'm taking a day off tomorrow to perfect the flying gallop and then we are going to tackle something a little more modern.