GIANTS IN THE LANDSCAPE. All around england there are carved mysterious figures in the hillsides, mostly horses, which have puzzled and amazed people for many centuries. You may have seen them as you are walking or wandering in the valleys or on the hill tops. People have debated their origins and meanings for longer than anyone can remember. New ones occasionally appear and others are sometimes left to grow over and disappear back into the hills.
Myths and legends grow up around some of the older hill figures, the magic of the landscape seeping into our subconcious, and helping us to absorb the atmosphere of these ancient places.
The oldest remaining white horse, and certainly the most beautiful, is the uffington horse, which is dated to the bronze age or early iron age, possibly over 3,000 years old. So local people have kept it cleared and told its stories as cultures and ideas have come and gone and changed over the centuries.
Uffington white horse
Iron age Celtic coins have been found which are astonishingly similar to the stylised design of the uffington white horse.
iron age coins
Just below the white horse is a small hill known as dragon hill, where legend has it that a dragon was killed, and where its blood dripped no grass will ever grow, and just over 1 mile away is Waylands Smithy, an ancient barrow where the giant Wayland had his forge.
It is thought by some that the horse was first cut into the hillside as a tribal symbol or totem, or more likely a shamanic spirit animal, similar to the earlier neolithic shamanic cave paintings.
palaeolithic cave painting. Approx 16,000 years old.
another particularly nice one is the Westbury white horse.
Westbury white horse
The white horse of kilburn is englands biggest white horse and also the most northerly.
The white horse of Kilburn
Its not only horses which adorn the chalk hills of england.
The Cerne Abbas Giant is the most interesting giant in england and its obvious why people for centuries have believed he is connected with fertility.
The Cerne Abbas giant
The long Man of Wilmington is another interesting one. Not least because there are tales that he used to be a woman, and has been re-cut many times, changing shape over the years. Another theory is that he is an ancient depiction of Orion.
The Long man of Wilmington