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WWW's        
In Search of

The White Horse of Uffington

Placed: 9-22-03
Placed By: WWW (Formerly known as Chuck and Molly)
Location: Coventry, Connecticut, Tolland County
Rated: Easy level walk along abandoned railroad line except for the final 17 steps

Round trip walk is about .75 mile

This box is located on the very Southwest corner of Coventry. The walk starts in northwestern Andover CT.

Coming from Willimantic, Columbia, Andover on route 6, take a left immediately after Hickory Hill Dr onto Bailey Rd. I did not see a street sign at the present time. Coming from points west and north of Andover, you will pass South Street on the left, Bailey Road will be the next right. Bailey Road is a dead end road. Drive 3/10 of a mile on Bailey Road. There is a small parking area on both sides of the road right near the old railroad line.

Take the trail north. You will soon be walking high above the woods with steep, high drops on either side. Think of the work that had to be done to build the railroad through here. Next you will pass through a gorge, with stone cliffs on both sides rising high above you. You can still see the marks where they cut through the rock. Walk through the gorge. Just before you get to level ground again on your right, look for a railroad tie on the right side of the trail, pointing towards the trail. Just after the railroad tie is a tree with some black spray paint on it. Stand at the end of the railroad tie, the end next to the trail. Take a reading of 115 degrees and take 17 steps in that direction which takes you off the trail uphill, just to the left of a bunch of branches that are all in a group pointing the same way. Look under the rock overhang and just to the left of the branches to find the In Search of the White Horse of Uffington letterbox. You need not move anything to see it or to get it. Return the way you came.

The White Horse of Uffington:

Beneath the green grass and brown soil of Great Britain, some of the hills consist of chalk. Over the years from present times going back into the distant past the landscape has become a large artists palette. There are over 50 large images made by carving through the top layers of the grass and soil to expose the white chalk beneath. In the English countryside there are about a dozen pictures of horses. Of the horse carvings, the oldest and best known is the Uffington White Horse. Its' origin is shrouded in mystery, lost in time. The reason why it was created is unknown.

The White Horse of Uffington is cut into the slopes of a 856 feet high hill. The figure seems to be a stylized representation of an elongated running horse. It is 374 ft long, formed by chalk trenches 3 ft deep and 10 ft wide. In this case the trenches were dug and then filled in with chalk. There are a few locations that you can stand that provide a fair view of the carving but no location to get a good view. To see its entire, true shape properly, it must be viewed from the air. This has given rise by some to say that it may have been carved to be viewed by UFOs. Over the years, any shape carved into the landscape would eventually be reclaimed by nature. Even the deepest trenches would slowly start to fill in over the centuries. The Uffington Horse has survived the centuries because of the periodic cleaning of it. The cleaning is known as scouring. It used to be held as a festive occasion by local villagers. Every seven years, weeds were removed and the outline smoothed to maintain its original size and shape. Today it is maintained by the National Trust.

The horse is in excellent condition. The edges are well defined partially consolidated with concrete and the top edge reinforced with polypropylene netting. Any repairs are done when needed to keep the present shape. This area has been revered by some as a sacred place. It has been maintained by centuries of scouring and has a pagan mysteriousness. The carving was originally considered Saxon and then Iron Age. Recent field work with optical dating, that establishes when material was last exposed to sunlight, now points to the late Bronze Age (1000 - 800 BC). More recent work in archaeo astronomy suggests it may even be Neolithic (4500 - 2200 BC) but at the present time, this seems to be at odds with the field work that has been done.

The big question that arises from this hill figure is why was it constructed? Theories range from it being a tribal emblem, a territory marker, a commemorative symbol of King Alfred's triumphs over the Danes, a Celtic symbol of the goddess Epona, who protected horses. The horse-goddess Epona was worshipped by the Celts in Gaul, and she had a counterpart in Britain, Rhiannon. The horse could have been cut by the worshippers of the sun god Belinos or Belenus, who was associated with horses. Maybe that is why the original carvers wanted it to look best when viewed from above. The horse could have been cut so that their god above could see the figure. Many local people believe the image to be of a dragon, because the site is so near to Dragon Hill where St. George is reputed to have slew the dragon that once was supposed to have terrorized the area. Whether the figure is intended to represent a horse, or some other creature instead, has been debated, but we do know that it has been called a horse since at least medieval times. A cartulary of the Abbey of Abingdon from between 1072 and 1084 refers to "the place commonly known as the White Horse Hill". Whatever is the true reason for the original carving of the figure may never be known. Only the figure itself, knows itís real meaning, as it continues itís mysterious vigil. To see more about the White Horse of Uffington, visit these web sites:

http://itotd.com/index.alt?ArticleID=157
http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/oxfordshire/ancient/uffington.htm
http://www.wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/uffington.html
http://www.hows.org.uk/personal/hillfigs/uff/uffing.htm
http://www.folklegend.com/article1020.html
http://www.tourist-information-uk.com/white-horse.htm
http://www.ashbury.fsnet.co.uk/uffington_white_horse.html
http://myhome.shinbiro.com/~kbyon/earth/horse.htm

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