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White Horse, Westbury
between Westbury and Bratton, Wiltshire, UK
associated engineer
Anon
date  1778
era  Georgian  |  category  Monument, historical  |  reference  ST897516
The shape of a giant horse is cut into the chalk on the side of a steep hill above the Bratton-Westbury road. The present version is more than 300 years old, although the original could date from the Anglo-Saxon period. Usually called the Westbury horse, it is sometimes referred to as the Bratton horse, as it is located near the Iron Age hill fort at Bratton Camp.
The original Westbury horse may have been made in 878 AD as a memorial to King Alfred's victory over the Danes at Ethandune. However, the first book to mention the horse dates from 1742. This first horse faced right and had a long body, short legs and a curved tail.
The appropriately named George Gee, steward to Lord Abingdon, decided to have the horse recut in 1778 as he felt that the shape was not realistic enough. In this version, the horse faces left and has a large eye and a long tail. Gee's horse is 54.9m long and 32.6m high at its shoulder.
The white horse was restored in 1853 and again in 1873, with edging stones added to help keep the outline. These were concreted into place in 1936.
In the 1950s, the horse was covered in concrete and painted white. The concrete was renewed in 1995. Sadly, the white paint soon fades to grey.
The Westbury horse is one of eight white horses in Wiltshire and is in the care of English Heritage.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
www.english-heritage.org.uk
www.westburywilts.co.uk
www.wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk
Location

White Horse, Westbury