Uffington White Horse

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Figure of a horse, 364 feet long, cut through the sod to the white chalk below on the escarpment at the Iron Age fort of Uffington Castle, Oxfordshire (until 1974, Berkshire). With its distinctive taut, curvilinear style, the Uffington horse is one of the earth's largest pictorial works of art. Popularly supposed to represent the horse-goddess Epona, the horse may be too early for that; stylistic evidence suggests that it dates from 50 bc while the cult of Epona appears to have arrived in Britain in post-Roman times. One of fourteen hill figures of white horses in southern England, this is by far the oldest. It was mentioned in medieval records as early as 1084. Popular scouring and cleaning, to keep the carved areas white and free of grass, continued from 1650 to the 20th century, usually accompanied with great festivities. Modern commentators are unsure which British people constructed the horse, possibly the Atrebates or the Dobunni, whose coinage featured a three-tailed horse.

Subjects: Religion.

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