Uffington White Horse Oxford
National Trust
White Horse Hill
Near Woolstone Village
Oxon SN7 7QL
 
 
 
Leaping across the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire is a huge, highly stylised horse cut into the chalk escarpment of the Berkshire Downs.  He is over 3,000 years old and the centrepiece of a fascinating pre-historic site.
 
White Horse Hill is near Uffington Village and approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage.
 
The best views of the figure are obtained from the air, or from directly across the Vale of the White Horse, particularly around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust.
 
As can be imagined the whole area is a hotbed of legend and well worth visiting.  Apart from the ancient history associated with the site, it is a fabulous place to get out in the fresh air, enjoy the wildflowers and butterflies, fly a kite or just enjoy the stunning views.
 
The Horse
We do not know why the Horse was constructed but over 3,000 years ago (late Bronze-Age) local tribesmen dug deep trenches to a design and then backfilled them with white chalk blocks. Amazingly the Horse has not changed in shape or position since that time.
 
The horse is 374 feet (110 m) long and is similar in design to the images found on Iron Age coins.  Some people think that the figure represents a horse goddess connected with the local Belgae tribe. The goddess is generally believed to be one form of Epona, worshiped throughout the Celtic world.
 
The location of the figure leads the National Trust to hypothesize that it was a sign to the ancient gods, or a mark of territorial ownership.
 
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The Manger
Below the Horse is a dramatic, deep sided dry valley.  Ripples on the eastern valley side are known as the ‘Giants Stairs’.  These ripples were created by perma-frost action during the last Ice Age.  A terrace along the lower edge of the western slopes is thought to be the remains of medieval farming practice.
 
Legend again plays a role in the name of this natural phenomenon.  It is said that on moonlit nights the Horse would leave its vantage spot on the crest of the hill to feed in the valley.
 
Dragon Hill
To the east of the Manger is a low flat-topped hill.  This is Dragon Hill and legend says this is the spot where St George, England’s patron saint, slew the dragon.  The blood from the dying dragon so poisoned the ground beneath that grass never grows there leaving the chalk scar we see today.
 
Some groups suggest that the Horse is a representation of St George's steed or even  the slain dragon itself.  It must be said that it has been recorded as a ‘horse’ since the 11th century.
 
Uffington Castle
Crowning White Horse Hill is an Iron Age hillfort.  Uffington Castle is one of a series of forts and trading posts along the Ridgeway, a prehistoric drovers’ road. It is a simple rampart and ditch fort with a main entrance on the west side.  Smaller entrances through the south and north-east ramparts were created by the Romano-British during their occupation of the site.  At 857ft (262m) the hillfort forms the highest point in Oxfordshire with views over five counties on a clear day.
 
Pillow Mound
Between the "Castle" and the Horse lie a number of burial mounds, the most obvious being the Pillow Mound. These date from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages and are unusual in that they were reused for Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon burials.
 
Wayland’s Smithy
A walk of just over a mile (2km) west along the Ridgeway Path will lead the visitor to the atmospheric Neolithic long barrow, Wayland Smithy. Dating from 5000 years ago, it is believed to have been the home of Saxon smith-god Wayland. The site is owned by English Heritage and managed by the National Trust.  Web: English Heritage Wayland's Smithy
 
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White Horse Hill Estate Information
Open - All year
 
Admission
Car Park is ‘Pay & Display’. National Trust Members Free
 
Disabled Access
- Parking
Six designated disabled parking bays in car park. Gently sloping grass pathways give access to a viewpoint after some 270 yards (250m).  Assistance may be required. There is level access to picnic area. Web: National Trust Accessibility Information
 
Facilities
No Toilets or Refreshment points.
Picnic area beside car park
Information Boards in car park.
Information trailer open Apr-Sept.   
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0) 1793 762209 (Estate Office)
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
- Directions
A minor road off the B4507, opposite the turn off to Uffington, leads to a car park, from which the sites can be explored.
 
- By Car (suggested way of visiting)
Signposted off A420 Swindon to Oxford road, next to the B4507 between Ashbury and Wantage. 9 miles (14.5 km)from Junction 15 and 15 miles from Junction 14 on the M4
 
- Parking
White Horse - Woolstone Hill Road
OS: SU293865, Pay & Display (NT members free)
 
- By Bus
Services from Swindon-Ashbury-Uffington and Faringdon-Uffington-Wanttage stop at the bus stop 218 yards (200m) down the hill. These routes link from Oxford. Faringdon-Uffington-Wanttage bus also stops at Ashbury Hill, 2 miles (3.2 km) away. Check timetables in advance.
 
- By Rail
Swindon 12 miles (19 km), Didcot 15 miles (24 km) and Oxford 21 miles (34 km).
 
Google Map - Uffington White Horse