Ancient Monuments

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The White Horse hill figure 170m NNE of Uffington Castle on Whitehorse Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Uffington, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.5777 / 51°34'39"N

Longitude: -1.5667 / 1°34'0"W

OS Eastings: 430119.028217

OS Northings: 186630.732481

OS Grid: SU301866

Mapcode National: GBR 5WW.0Q3

Mapcode Global: VHC0Z.SLLV

Entry Name: The White Horse hill figure 170m NNE of Uffington Castle on Whitehorse Hill

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Last Amended: 5 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008413

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21785

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Uffington

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Uffington

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the chalk cut hill figure of a horse known as the `White
Horse' situated 170m NNE of Uffington Castle on Whitehorse Hill. The figure
occupies a thirty degree angled west facing slope which can be seen from a
distance of several miles.

The monument appears as the side view of a stylised horse with its head to the
right. The horse measures c.111m in length from tail to ear and c.40m high. At
its head there is a feature which is known as the `beak' and this has been
shown by recent geophysical survey to have been altered quite considerably in
shape. The horse was consolidated as it now appears in 1936 and spent a short
period covered over during World War II, to prevent enemy pilots from using it
as a navigational aid.

The first documentary record of the horse is from the 12th century when it was
made clear that the area had become known as White Horse Hill in the reign of
William I (1066-1087). The horse is associated with St George and the Dragon
in local tradition, hence the name of the nearby Dragon Hill. Although the
horse could be Anglo-Saxon in origin, it is more generally believed to be Iron
Age in date, making it contemporary with the hillfort to the south. A scouring
festival, every seven years, was practised from at least 1677 until the late
18th century. The origin of this festival may go back to the original creation
of the monument.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Prehistoric hill figures are large scale depictions of some kind of symbol,
design or motif, generally in animal form, created by cutting away turf and
subsoil to create a visual contrast with the surrounding grassland. They are
usually best seen from some distance away, or from the air. All examples are
believed to have originated in the Iron Age but the appearance of some has
been altered in later periods. Some examples remain as obvious white figures
in chalk or limestone. Those that have not been maintained may be recognised
either as slight earthworks or as soilmarks in dry periods. Prehistoric hill
figures are often interpreted as religious symbols, perhaps representing gods
or totems. Very few prehistoric hill figures have been recorded and all
surviving examples are regarded as nationally important.

The Uffington White Horse is one of the best known and striking examples of
its class and has been shown by recent geophysical survey to have undergone a
number of changes during its life. It forms part of an unusual group of
prehistoric and later monuments which, taken as a whole, will provide a rare
insight into the religious and secular use of the landscape over nearly four
thousand years.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Clayton, P, Archaeological Sites of Britain, (1976), 76-77
Grinsell, L V, Archaeology of Wessex, (1958)
Ancient Monuments Terrier, HBMC , Uffington Castle, White Horse and Dragon Hill, (1984)
Description of monuments, Grinsell, L V, White Horse Hill, (1939)
Discussion of monuments and folklore, POCOCK., The Mystery of White Horse Hill, (1965)
With S. Palmer, JEFFERY, P.P., DISCUSSION ON SITE, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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