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Prehistoric White Horse To Be Fattened Up

The 3,000 year old chalk figure on a hill in England's Berkshire Downs is to receive some much needed titivation.

Uffington White Horse aerial view
Uffington White Horse | Wikipedia

The Uffington White Horse is a prehistoric hill figure, 110m (360ft) long, formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The Guardian stated in 2003 that "for more than 3,000 years, the Uffington White Horse has been jealously guarded as a masterpiece of minimalist art," and it is by far the oldest of the white horse figures in Britain.

However, the chalk figure has shrunk over time, archaeologists have discovered. The head and neck, in particular, have become thinner since the 1980s, the National Trust and Oxford Archaeology team said. The trust said it plans to reverse the Oxfordshire landmark horse's "weight loss" and restore its original outline.

"The Uffington White Horse is set in a dramatic landscape, shaped by nature and by people through time, and this is a hugely important chalk figure, partly because it is the oldest scientifically-dated example in Britain, dating back to the late Bronze Age," says archaeologist Adrian Cox. "Through the efforts of generations of local people, it has been cared for and has survived as an iconic feature of this amazing landscape."

He said while it has been maintained in a similar form for centuries, "we suspected there had been a gradual reduction since the 1980s", adding: "The results of our new research show that this is indeed the case."

The turf has been replaced and plans are being drawn up to "carefully reverse the recent shrinkage and restore its original outline, all under close archaeological supervision", the archaeologist added.


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