The A to Z Challenge – participating blogs
Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter W for White Horse of Uffington.
A geoglyph is a large drawing cut into the ground. Figures of all sorts are found worldwide both ancient and modern, and curiously, all were designed to be seen from above. When I think of geoglyphs, the enigmatic Nazca Lines in Peru come to mind — lines and pictures so old no one alive knows their purpose.
Called Hill Figures in Britain, an estimated 57 of these artworks are scattered throughout the UK, but not all are ancient works. The most recent is the Folkestone Horse created in 2003. Horses seem to be a popular theme. In Wiltshire alone, there were eight chalky horses (two have since disappeared). In Aberdeenshire, a horse was cut into quartz, and the Red Horses of Warwickshire were were cut into the red loam. One of the largest and most famous geoglyph is the Cerne Abbas Giant in Britain. Some say he’s a huge fertility symbol, others just call him the Rude Man. Look him up. I’m guessing fertility symbol.
Gouged into the rolling English hillside near the village of Uffington in Oxfordshire, is one of the most famous geoglyphs in the world — the White Horse of Uffington. Experts determine the horse was created around 3000 years ago during the Bronze Age or early Iron Age, in the time of Stonehenge.
Most people see a stylized horse on the run when they consider the white chalk outline, but some feel the original head structure and curvature of the legs represent a large cat…a lion or cougar perhaps. Early references from the local Abbingdon Abbey in 1072 AD, refer to the hillside as Mons Albi Equi or White Equine Hill. That it’s a horse is a long held notion. Given the age of the artwork, it’s all speculation. It looks like a horse to me, so I’ll just call it a horse.
Like the Cerne Abbas Giant, the White Horse of Uffington was created by carving through turf to reveal the white chalk underneath the soil. Since open spaces like this soon fill in with plants and soil, many of the figures scattered across the UK are slowly being covered. The Uffington hillside and the White Horse require regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. To those who know things like this, it’s estimated it would only take 150 years to cover over completely. It makes me wonder what other images are hidden in the grass. Researching this prehistoric artwork, I’m struck by the fact there has been an unbroken chain of people tending it for the last 3000 years. That’s amazing all by itself!
And here’s Google Earth so you can see the rest around the world
I’ve had so much fun discussing my historical posts in the A to Z Challenge. To keep conversations going, I’ve just launched a new blog — a Salon Blog called Another Stone Unturned. Pressed for time now that my edits are in progress, I’ve put my Gobekli Tepe post there to reanimate the discussion. Let’s talk about it. What have you found on the web? What stone might still be unturned for interested learners? What can you share? I’d love to see! Read the details and let’s start the ball rolling. http://anotherstoneunturned.blogspot.com/
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