|white horses of England|
The white horses of England are among a number of figures, usually of animals, that are cut into hillsides. The turf has been cut away, revealing the figures in the chalk underneath.
Several white horses appear in Wiltshire, where there are nine large equine images. It is impossible to accurately date these figures, but they are estimated to have been carved anywhere from 4,000 to 2,000 years ago. The reason for the carvings is unknown.
The white horse with the greatest number of folk beliefs attached to it is the Uffington horse, the most stylized, least naturalistic, of the horses. The Uffington horse is said to be able to grant the wish of anyone who stands on its eye and turns around three times clockwise.
This belief can no longer be tested, however. So many people walked on the horse that they began to damage it, and it is no longer accessible to the public.
Once every hundred years, the Uffington horse is said to gallop across the sky to be reshod by Wayland, the wonder-smith of Anglo-Saxon mythology. Wayland’s smithy is said to have stood near where the Uffington horse was carved.
It is also said that when King Arthur awakes from his magical sleep, as some believe he will, the Uffington horse will rise up and dance on nearby Dragon Hill.
In other local folk beliefs, the Uffington white horse is said to be a mare with an invisible foal on the hill beside her. Every night, the mare and foal come down the hill to graze at the slope known as the manger. They drink at nearby Woolstone Wells, which is believed to have been formed by the mare’s hoofprint.
White horse ﬁgures in other locations also are said to come to life and go to drink. The Tan Hill horse is supposed to come to life when the church clock of All Cannings strikes midnight.
It then goes down to a pond to drink. The Westbury white horse is also a thirsty one. It wakes when the Bratton church clock strikes midnight and goes down to Briddle Springs to drink.