CARE OF A MONUMENT

Landscape (UK) - - Our Landscape -

The iconic Uff­in­g­ton white horse, carved into the north­ern es­carp­ment of the Berk­shire Downs, re­ceives hun­dreds of vis­i­tors each year. The wear caused by boots and weather is coun­ter­acted by a com­mu­nity event which takes place in July and Au­gust, keep­ing the an­cient monument clear and bright. For the an­nual clean up, known as a scour­ing, buck­ets of fresh, lo­cally quar­ried chalk are car­ried up the hill. The horse is cleared of weeds and the new chalk pounded in place. The tra­di­tion goes back many cen­turies, with one lo­cal writer re­fer­ring to it in the 17th cen­tury. It was once ac­com­pa­nied by a coun­try fair, with stalls sell­ing food, toys and al­co­hol, and games and com­pe­ti­tions tak­ing place through­out the day. It is likely though, that the event has more cer­e­mo­nial ori­gins. It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that the horse was carved into the hill­side as a tribal sym­bol, al­though it may also be a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the myth­i­cal ‘so­lar horse’ draw­ing the sun across the sky.

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