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White horses

Without doubt the White Horse is an iconic symbol for the county of Wiltshire. There have been at least twenty-four of these hill figures in Britain, with no less than thirteen being in Wiltshire, with the oldest white horse, just over the border at Uffington in Oxfordshire.

Most of the white horses are chalk hill carvings and the Downs of central Wiltshire make it an ideal place for such figures.

Of the thirteen white horses known to have existed in Wiltshire, eight are still visible- the others have either been lost completely, or are in a sense still there, under the turf, but have long since become grown over and are no longer visible.

Contrary to popular belief, most white horses are not of great antiquity. Only the Uffington white horse is of certain prehistoric origin, being some three thousand years old.

Most of the others date from the last three hundred years or so, though the origin of most of the hillside white horses is almost impossible to establish with any certainty.

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Click on any of the locations below to hear an audio description.

Currently there are eight located at:

Alton Barnes

Alton Barnes

This horse was cut in 1812 at the expense of the landowner Mr Robert Pile of Manor Farm. His first contractor fled with an advance payment of £20 after drawing only a sketch of the horse, but he was subsequently found and hanged for a list of crimes. Facing westwards towards the Devizes Millennium White Horse, in 2010 - with the cooperation of Alton Barnes Parish Council and the landowner - 150 tons of fresh chalk, delivered by helicopter, was spread by volunteers to renovate the surface.

Broad Town

Broad Town

This elusive horse is almost hidden to the outside world in its secluded location - so much so that the horse was lost for many years. The 26 metre high creature was reputedly carved by William Simmonds in 1864 although there is some doubt about  the date and the horse may have been refurbished rather than cut as he claimed. The horse suffered from neglect through much of its history, but in 1991 the Broad Town White Horse Restoration Society was formed, and they restored the horse and continue to maintain it to this day.

Cherhill Oldbury

Cherhill Oldbury

This is the second oldest White Horse in Wiltshire and was cut under the direction of Dr Alsop of Calne also known as the "mad doctor" who in 1780 shouted instructions over a megaphone from the main road! Situated under an ancient earthwork of Oldbury Castle and adjacent to the Lansdowne Obelisk, the design for the horse may have been influenced by the work of his artist friend George Stubbs. Its eye was once filled with upturned bottles which used to sparkle in the sunlight.  In 2002 major works were carried out by the Cherhill White Horse Restoration Group who continue with regular maintenance today.

Devizes

Devizes

 Set on the slopes of Roundway Hill the Devizes White Horse is uniquely facing right towards the east and the Vale of Pewsey. Created to mark the turn of the 21st century it was designed by Peter Greed and cut into the chalk with the help of the community. It has become a major landmark for the town of Devizes.

Hackpen Hill

Hackpen Hill

This horse was cut in 1838 by the Parish Clerk of Broad Hinton to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Ironically it may have been styled on the Hanoverian White Horse which was removed from the royal coat of arms when the new Queen came to the throne. Two of Wiltshire's White Horses are in close proximity at this location with the head of this one pointing roughly in the direction of the nearby BroadTown Horse.

Marlborough

Marlborough

Sometimes known as the Preshute White Horse, it was designed in 1804 by William Canning a pupil of Mr George Greasley's Academy in High Street Marlborough and may have been created to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the granting of the Town's Charter.

The white horse is located in the sports fields of Marlborough College and is mentioned in the verse of the school song.
"Ah, then we'll cry, thank God, my lads, the Kennett's running still, and see, the old White Horse still pads up there on Granham Hill"

Pewsey

Pewsey

The original horse  was cut in 1785 reputedly featuring a rider but was redesigned in 1937 by Mr George Marples and cut by Pewsey Fire Brigade to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI.
Westbury

Westbury

Set below Bratton Hill Fort the Westbury horse is not simply cut in the chalk but is made from concrete set into the hillside and is painted white. Renovations usually coincide with royal events and several have occurred during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The horse seen today has replaced earlier ones dating back to 1742 which makes this the oldest known location for a white horse in Wiltshire.

There are a number of web sites that give more details about the White Horses, how you can find them and, if you wish, walk to one or all of them.

Long Distance Walkers Association
Visit Wiltshire
National Trust Uffington White Horse

Please note Wiltshire Council does not verify the information on external web sites.

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Ah, then we'll cry, thank God, my lads, the Kennett's running still, and see, the old White Horse still pads up there on Granham Hill

Marlborough College - the verse of the school song.
Last updated: 31 October 2018 | Last reviewed: 31 October 2018