Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Uffington White Horse and Castle

Today I thought I would place my post back into the English countryside and an area which is close to our home here.  Because of the difficulty in taking good clear photos of the white horse at ground level, aerial shots are the only way to really see the true beauty of this interesting sculpure. It makes me wonder how the ancient "artists" managed, without an aeroplane and from a ground level aspect, to get the proportions of the stylised beast so wonderfully set out!! I have cheated a little and used a picture from the web.  Mine would just not do it justice and I am afraid that hiring a helicopter to fly up and take photos would be a little too expensive :-)

I have used two sites for the following information and photo, namely:

Photo at telegraph.co.uk  HERE 
and
information at mysteriousbritain.co.uk HERE


The White Horse of Uffington, with its elegant lines of white chalk bedrock, is thought to be the oldest hill figure in Britain. The image is a stylised representation of a horse some 374 feet in length, and is thought to date back as far as 1000BC in the late Bronze Age. Similar images have been found depicted on coins from that period, and it is thought that the figure represents a horse goddess connected with the local Belgae tribe. The goddess is generally believed to be one form of Epona, worshipped throughout the Celtic world.

The horse was ritually scoured every seven years under the jurisdiction of the local Lord, who had to fund the event. The festival - for that is what it became - could last for over three days and consisted of fun and games, traditional cheese rolling, wrestling and other pastimes. The focus of the games was in the enclosed earthen banks of the adjacent Uffington Castle, an Iron Age hill fort, towards which the White Horse seems to be galloping,  when viewed from the air. The cheese rolling (it still goes on today in other locations!) was held on the steep sided valley known as The Manger, the place where the horse was said to feed on moonlit nights. The festival, which may have had ancient origins, lapsed about a hundred years ago, and it is fortunate that the White Horse did not become completely overgrown. The horse is now cleaned by members of English Heritage, who are responsible for the site.
Uffington Castle
 The castle is an impressive Iron Age hill fort, once protected by timber walls on top of the surviving banks and ditches, and faced with sarcen stones. It is likely that the tribe who created the White Horse once lived within this hill fort. The entrance to the hill fort was via the Northwest, protected by an earthen passageway that would have been further protected by wood. The castle was excavated in 1850 when evidence of the wooden structure was found, along with an Iron Age coin of the Dobunni tribe.

It covers about 32,000 square metres and is surrounded by two earth banks separated by a ditch with an entrance in the eastern end. A second entrance in the western end was apparently blocked up a few centuries after it was built.

Two oblong mounds, one containing 46 Romano-British burials and one containing 8 Saxon burials, lie nearby.

Happy Chinese New Year to all my chinese friends and followers.

74 comments:

  1. These hillside figures have a magical feel to them, don't they Diane. Have you walked to the horse? I did, but that one was the undressed male figure on the Downs near Eastbourne. Still magical, though. Can't imagine the effort which went into making them.

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  2. Hi Vera, yes we have walked to the horse and the castle a number of times when we have visitors here. It is usually very cold though as it is very open and windy up there!! I have not seen the Eastbourne figures, they sound interesting :)
    I have no idea how they made them as how did they see they as we can from the air?? Diane

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  3. Very mystical places - These places feel so ancient.

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  4. Diane you are so right they are mystical, if only we knew so much more about the ancient world. There are so many unexplained places. Diane

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  5. This is so interesting and I thank you for blogging about it..When I see the dates of Europe, we are really a baby country..Our home was built in 1832 and that is considered a nice age..but Europe has such wonderful history. So much we don't know and I think we get a little arrogant with what we think we know..My father use to always say.."Keep your mind open"..and that I do..I find all this so interesting and again..thanks for sharing..Rosebud/Carolyn

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  6. Carolyn I also find it very interesting and it is fun looking up the information. I guess yes, to a certain degree you are a young country, but there must me so much history in the ancestors of Native American tribes. Tell me about it :-) Diane

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  7. I love these educational posts Diane. I've never heard of Uffington White Horse... it is so amazing! Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Pam it is a pleasure to share with you all for I am learning as I go. History has suddenly become so much more exciting than it was at school! Diane

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  9. Passionnant ce site. D'abord le style de ce cheval est très moderne.Et ensuite l'histoire de cet endroit remonte à une occupation très ancienne.Depuis toujours les hommes ont choisi de s'installer sur une colline!
    Merci de nous présenter ces endroits de votre région, avec leurs mystères et leurs histoires remontant si loin dans le temps!

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  10. What a masterpiece! I've never heard of this before, so I'm glad you shared it with us, Diane. It is truly magnificent.

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  11. What an amazing story and sculpture. Hard to understand how this could have been built on this grand scale, but it sure works.

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  12. Faith I find it quite amazing how they managed to do this from the ground and get it so perfect. As I say I cannot even take a photo properly from the ground! Diane

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  13. Lucie, C'est un plaisir. Je suis contente que vous aimez cette histoire d'Angleterre. Diane

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  14. Gaelyn, It is incredible how this was done in the correct proportions without being able to see it from the air! Diane

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  15. How did you know??? It's one of my favorite places and I have it on my list to visit again this year.. it is so cool. Great knowing the story to it (I had forgotten). I am with you about the makers... how did they get it so right without seeing it from the sky???

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  16. lostpastremembered I did not know but :-))))) Your right it is really cool and just how did they get it so right? Diane

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  17. Diane hi,
    A wonderful reports !! having moved a lot, because my son studied at the University of Greenwich and we often go to London.
    We had Britreil pass and every day travel with my husband to all U.K. and once we are on the train in Oxfordsair (for Swindon? not remember) and saw of the train, the white horse from afar.
    Thank you very much for the information about Cognac and brandy.
    Greetings :)
    Magda

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  18. Magda It is good that you have seen the white horse from the train, now you know a little more about it :) Diane

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  19. Another well written, researched and informative post. I love coming to your blog, I always learn something! :-)

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  20. I, for one, didn't think you would hire a helicopter to take a picture for lil' old us! If you have that kind of extra cash laying around, plan a round-the-world trip to visit us all instead! OK, not quite, but you get the idea. this was an interesting place you took us to visit, Diane. It does make me wonder how those ancient sculptors got the picture so good without being able to see what they were doing!

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  21. Fascinating - I am almost ashamed to say I knew so little of this, our past and heritage, before you explained it all - thanks for a really interesting post.

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  22. This horse is so modern looking ~ such slender lines. I love your wealth of history

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  23. Happy Frog and I, thanks so much for your kind comments and I am glad that you are learning something from my posts. I have to admit I have found it fun doing the research. Diane

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  24. It's amazing ... I must see that one day ...
    Hélène

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  25. Marjie, how I wish I had the money to visit you all. I would love to see the USA but there is not much chance of that ever happening. I cannot see us going on holiday anywhere other than Europe where there are cheap flights or we can drive to!! My very best friend lives in Dallas and I have only seen her a couple of times in the past 30 years. I guess we will never know how they managed to get such good proportions, one of the mysteries of life :) Diane

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  26. Jean I am glad you enjoyed this post; there is so much ancient history around us that it is impossible to know it all unless perhaps you are a historian! Diane

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  27. Dianne it just goes to show that the paintings that we call modern, may well be a return of the ancient arts!!! Diane

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  28. Hélène it really is amazing I agree, but seeing it from the ground somehow is not quite the same as seeing it from the air. As I have said previously, how did they manage to get the correct proportions without seeing it properly! Diane

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  29. This is really fascinating. Someone all those centuries ago had a vision and the mathematical skills necessary to make this happen. Either that or....:-). I always find these types of things amazing. Thanks for sharing this one with us. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  30. This is a wonderful post, and the photos are amazing. I don't know what I would do if you didn't let me come along with you on your journeys :) I enjoyed all the information you have presented.

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  31. This is fabulous!
    Just like the Nazca line it can only properly seen from the sky!
    I am happy to see it again and to read the history behind it!
    Many thanks, great idea!
    Love!!!

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  32. Olga I am quite sure you would survive without my journeys LOL but I am glad that you enjoy them so much. I just hope I can keep finding such interesting places! Diane

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  33. Noushka it is quite amazing how all these 'sculptures' were done so many years ago. As you say the Nazca Line is similar. Take care, Luv Diane xx

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  34. Mary I guess we will never know how it was done, I think this particular hill sculpture is quite amazing. Have a good weekend. Diane

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  35. This is such a beautiful site! Amazing how old it is!

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  36. Oh my gosh, that looks like a paradise!

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  37. Peggy it is beautiful and yes quite amazing how old it is. Diane

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  38. chubskulit I bet the castle was not too much like paradise in the old days. I would imagine it was the scene of many battles. Diane

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  39. Yes, you understood correctly about my beetle!! I manage to get down to the sub-species but she found the species' name!
    Lucie and I help each other quite a bit with ID's!!
    Since we've met, we get along very well, and I intend to visit them both at the beginning of summer!
    Keep well!
    XXXX

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  40. Noushka thanks for the info. Maybe you should come a bit further north and visit me as well :)) Diane xx

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  41. Thanks for sharing this with us Diane, I do like to be reminded that the UK has a lot of natural beauty to offer.

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  42. I love the history of England! Especially now that I am homeschooling my kids, I am learning in more detail about European history. I find it facinating and much more enjoyable than American History! Thanks!

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  43. Lindy I had no intention of doing any posts on the UK when I returned for winter, but many of my followers asked me to do some. I have to admit to quite enjoying doing them and the research has been fun. I have probably learnt more about the local area in the last six months than I would have ever done if I did not have the blog!!! Diane

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  44. Debbie I am glad that my posts have been of educational use besides just of interest. I am glad that you and your children are enjoying them. Diane

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  45. This is beautiful. I love how you casually mentioned "traditional cheese rolling". That really got my attention!

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  46. Very interesting Diane! I love the photo. This is the first time I've heard of "The Horse".

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  47. Angela, thanks you for visiting, I have to say if I was around when people were cheese rolling a few may disappear LOL. Diane

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  48. Joyful it is quite beautiful, but a mystery and very intriguing as to how they people that long ago managed to make it so. Diane

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  49. I'm so glad you posted this as it is so interesting. I've never heard of The Horse but it is pretty amazing with all the festivities involved.

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  50. Pam, glad this is something new to you. As you say it is pretty amazing. Diane

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  51. Hi Diane, just back from a week in London, and was so happy to read this post. Takes me back to one of my long distance walks (Goring on Thames to Avebury) some years ago. I spent a lot of time here at the White Horse, the Horse's Manger, and Uffington Castle. Very few roads cross the Ridgeway Path making it seem such a remote area in the busy south of England.

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  52. A great post Diane!! I think this could inspire an artist. Thank you for your lovely offer, you are very kind. We extend the same to you, anytime. Have a great weekend! Susan

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  53. Various films on tv have shown this site and other sites such as in South America that have these incredible sculptures. Some groups are convinced that earlier people were visited and directed by people from outer space, due to our not understanding how they managed to make these. I have no comment on that.
    Many of the cave drawings and these larger than life sculptures have a modern look - guess that is due to the abstractness.
    Interesting post, thank you - I would love to climb up to see that - just to get a sense of the enormity.

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  54. Dolly good to have you back. I am happy that I have brought back good memories for you. As you say it seems such a remote spot. It is always seems wild and windy up there except on a good summer's day and there ar not too many of those!! Diane

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  55. Neil and Susan as you say it would have to inspire anyone artistic. Thanks for your offer, but it is not likely that I will be in that direction, much more chance of the other way around :)) Diane

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  56. Mya I have never heard of the outer space story but maybe that is the answer LOL. It is quite huge when you go up there and walk around but it is only from the air that you can really see it. Amazing and a mystery! Diane

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  57. How beautiful. So modern yet timeless. I have never heard of this before but am fascinated by the perseverance of ancient people to make art like this. I can't even draw such a beautiful picture on a piece of paper.Thank you for sharing this.

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  58. Delana, thanks for your visit, you are so right, modern yet timless. I would love to hop in a time machine and go back to see how this was done! Diane

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  59. Just found your food blog, I love it when I find new ones, do you have any particular favourite websites and blogs that you follow, a part from mine of course ;-) I look forward to trying some of your recipes and re-branding them as Rosies, LOL. So I will be trying some of your recipes on Paul.
    http://rozinbrittany.blogspot.com/

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  60. Hi Paul and Roz, thanks for the visit. Although I often put recipes on my blog I quite often miss doing them because I forget to take photos :( You will find most of my recipes at my own site http://www.recipe.nidi.org.uk/ though sometimes I forget to put them there as well!!!! Sorry my memory is not what it used to be :((( I follow some great food blogs and if you look down my list of people commenting you should be able to pick them out. There are too many and I would not like to pick favourites as they are all good.
    I am looking forward to returning to France next month then I can experiment with whatever I have in the garden at any particular time.
    I will be back with a few new recipes in the next couple of weeks. Diane

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  61. Diane, this is gorgeous. I think I saw it on a doco once. Amazing. You've given us a good historical account. The first photo is amazing.

    How are your plans to move to France full time going?

    Thanks for visiting my humble travel blog.

    Denise:)

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  62. Denise, I love your blog there is always something interesting to read about.
    Re moving to France full time - Nigel only officially retires in two years but there are so many things going on at his work place anything could happen. We are hoping maybe by the end of this year..... :))) Diane

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  63. I think your white horse shot is great! I've actually visited this spot in 2005 with my family. Makes me feel amazed that I've finally visited a place you're writing about.

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  64. Brittany if you have seen it you will appreciate the size of this sculpture and what it looks like from the ground. Amazing.
    You now need to visit all the litttle French villages I go to :) Diane

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  65. Diane, your posts are always so informative and I learn so much from them. Thanks so much for sharing and love all the beautiful clicks!

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  66. Quay Po Cooks I am glad that my posts are educational, I have to say I learn a lot from my research as well. Take care. Diane

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  67. Amazing how they can make images this big and look perfectly beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a spectacular find! Diane, this post is truly interesting!

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  68. michelangelo as you say amazing, how did they do it? Glad you enjoyed. Diane

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  69. Absolutely fascinating! I had no idea about this "White Horse!" It is just lovely, isn't it?
    Thanks so much for this wonderful history lesson!
    Ann

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  70. Ann glad you have learnt something new. It really is interesting and a mystery as well! Diane

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  71. Hi Fiane, it's me again. I am not sure why my updates won't show in your blog reader I'll check out my feedburner and see.

    Thanks for always visiting! I always love your comments.

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  72. chubskulit I have no idea why they are not showing in the blog reader. It just makes me wonder how many others I may be missing!! Diane

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  73. JM, how right you are! Diane

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