White Horse Challenge : Devizes
Joe and I completed the fourth of the Kileva White Horse Challenges last weekend. This time it was the horse in Devizes, only about 10 minutes drive from our house. In fact if you stick your head out of one of our bedroom windows and look north towards Roundway Hill, you can see the white horse which is the only one in Wiltshire (and one of only four in Britain) to face to the right.
The original Devizes white horse
In 1845, local shoemakers cut a white horse into the west side of Roundway Hill, directly beneath Oliver’s Castle, the hill fort. This was a good location for a hill figure as it overlooked the valley on a steep slope so could be seen from many miles away. It was known locally as the “Snobs Horse”, the word “snobs” derived from the local word for shoemaker.
Unfortunately the horse was neglected and disappeared from view in about 1922. However in 1954, James Smith, the head boy of the Devizes Grammar School of the time, was out cycling and believed he saw the outline of a horse on the Oliver Cromwell promontory. This was checked out and indeed there was the faint outline of the head, neck and rump of a horse to be seen.
The new white horse
Fellow pupils at Devizes Grammar school researched the old Devizes horse, and one of them, Peter Greed, drew up plans for re-creating it. Nothing came of that at the time, but years later, in 1998, Sarah Padwick, who had recently moved to Devizes and was unaware of the old horse, wrote to a local paper suggesting that a Devizes hill figure should be cut on Roundway Down to celebrate the millennium.
Chris Combe, a local tenant farmer, offered land on Roundway Hill for the project, and the owners, the Crown Estates Commissioners, gave their approval for the land to be used. It was decided that a reversal of the design drawn up in 1954 for re-creating the old Devizes horse should be used, and thus the new horse was to face to the right.
Work began on the site in August 1999, and ultimately involved some two hundred local people. Work went well and by the end of September Devizes had a newest of the Wiltshire white horses.
On the way up the hill
No dogs but plenty of bullocks
Unfortunately Poppy the dog was unable to come with up this time, but we did say hello to a number of bullocks as we climbed up to the horse.
At the horse
Once we reached the top of the hill, the wind became very strong, so much so that at one a point Joe was blown over .. 🙂 ..
The wind also messed up the sound on the video I took so the following is silent … and a bit jerky!
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