White Horses of Wiltshire – Molly’s OP #2

Throughout the term our class has learned a lot about the history of Britain. I have really enjoyed learning about the architecture in the castles and cathedrals. The intricate and thought-out designs really intrigue me and I like to compare and contrast the different design styles.

One other visually impactful piece of Britain can be found in the White Horses of Wiltshire. The horses date back to nearly 250 years ago and there are still eight visible horses today. There were at least 24 of these horses in history that were located on the hills of Britain with the vast majority of the figures were and are located in Wiltshire. The white horses are mostly carvings from chalk in the hills.

The discovered horses are named and have very distinct histories behind them. The first of the remaining eight horses is called Westbury. It is the oldest Wiltshire horse and is located on a very high and steep slope on Westbury Hill. There was another, older horse at this very site called the Uffington horse, which is believed to be the earliest of the horses. A different design was cut around the Saxon period and was restored in 1873 using directions by a committee. The horse was eventually filled with concrete to cut down on maintenance costs.

The second oldest Wiltshire horse is Cherhill, which was cut in 1780 directly following the newly designed Westburg horse. Though no longer there, Cherhill originally has a glass eye. The middle of the eye was made using glass bottles sticking out of the side of the hill. Sunlight reflected off the upturned bottles creating a remarkable display. The missing bottles were replaced once, but were once again taken so the current eye is made of stone and concrete. Cherhill was recut in 2002 and was resurfaced with nearly 160 tons of new chalk.

The most recent of the horses is Devizes. In 1999, over 200 people gathered to cut the new horse figure. There was an older version of the Devise horse that was used as inspiration for the plans for the new horse. The new Devizes was cut to celebrate the millennium and was put on land offered by a local farmer. The new horse faces the opposite direction of the old horse. Unfortunately, by 2008 the new Devizes was barely visible. A community service group took on the project and now regularly cleans and maintains it. One school in Devizes even uses the white horse as its logo and has created a smaller replica of the horse on the school grounds.

The remainder of the eight Wiltshire horses include Marlborough, Alton Barnes, Hackpen, Broad Town and Pewsey. I find the history of these horses very interesting and am struck by the beauty of the large hill-side figures. The White Horses of Wiltshire are truly works of art.

2131435_f85b7ab6 Westburyhorse3


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