Wiltshire White Horses

The chalk horses of Wiltshire:
their history and their locations




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Wiltshire White Horses

The Rockley white horse

Ordnance Survey grid reference: SU 153 733

The Rockley Horse The Rockley white horse is something of an enigma. It was discovered in 1948 when land belonging to Wick Down Farm on Rockley Down was ploughed. The plough brought to the surface a mass of chalk in a pattern not identifiable on the ground. Local shepherds said that they had long been aware of a discolouration of the grass in that area. Aerial photographs were taken, and the chalk was revealed to be the infilling of a previously unknown white horse. In the course of turning over the soil, the plough had moved the chalk a furrow's width eastwards, but the figure of the horse was still plainly recognizable as such.

The horse was beside a footpath by a beech plantation about a quarter of a mile south west of the minor road from Marlborough to Wootton Bassett, some four miles north west of Marlborough. It was a well-proportioned horse, depicted in a trotting or running position, with a long square-cut tail, and facing left as do most of the Wiltshire horses.

The position chosen for the Rockley horse is a rather odd one. Rockley Down has a long steep ridge, which would seem to be an ideal site for a white horse, but the actual site is just over the top of the ridge, on much less steeply sloping ground. It was perhaps intended to be seen from the turnpike from Marlborough to Wroughton, a main highway which crossed the downs to the east.

Who was responsible for the Rockley white horse, why it was cut, and when, remain mysteries. But sadly the horse is long since lost, with the land ploughed and the chalk dispersed, and its origin will probably never be known.

This site was last updated on 6th May 2013

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Alton Barnes
Broad Town
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Ham Hill
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