Thursday, 15 December 2011

White Horses in the Chalk

Real white horses make me sneeze and wheeze, but the horses you see here don't have that effect on me. 

I was browsing around the superb resources of Google maps the other day and looking at some of the amazing figures carved in the chalk hills of England.  Some of them are quite ancient and others are positively modern.  Several were quite hard to find.  All are a little eccentric.

Chalk has its uses for artistic purposes and that is the main point of this, the first of a short series of posts - more in a few days.  However I'm sure you would be disappointed if I didn't take the opportunity to mention that it is also undeniable evidence for 'the fact of evolution' - evidence cast in stone.  (Or else it all happened in the flood - but you can believe that if you like.)

Here are a few of my favourites, with a link to their locations on Google maps.  They are all real.  I know that people are too sensible in most countries around the world to indulge in such follies, but fortunately the English have historically been different in this respect at least.

Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire (view on Google Maps), probably the oldest one in the world, dated to a few thousand years BCE.

Kilburn in North Yorkshire (view on Google Maps) - a Victorian mess?

Hackpen Hill in Wiltshire (view on Google Maps), rather an eccentric image, almost more like a long legged rat than a horse.

Osmington in Dorset (view on Google Maps), depicting George III.

Alton Barnes in Wiltshire (view on Google Maps)

Westbury in Wiltshire (view on Google Maps), now covered in concrete and painted white, but possibly the most realistic shape.

That shows you quite a variety of hillside art, and there are others in different parts of England.

In fact, the English hillsides are covered with other interesting figures too, including other animals, and figures of people.  Over the next week or so I will show you a few of them.

See also:

More Hillside Art
White Spires at Christmas
Human Figures in the Chalk - Coming soon - link to be added

1 comment:

Dobbin said...

I didn't realise how many of these figures there were until I recently saw a tourist leaflet advertising a Wiltshire 'white horse trail'. But I was disappointed to see how many of the figures were pastiches carved in recent centuries. Seems a bit fraudulent, like those fake Gothic ruins the Victorians were so fond of creating.