Here are some touristy photos of the Ridgeway, Uffington White Horse,Uffington Castle, and Wayland's Smithy.
The Ridgeway is one of Britain's most ancient roads. As its namesuggests, it differs from most modern roads in that it runs along a ridge ofhills. Originally it would probably have been used for driving sheep, andso on; above the surrounding land for much of the way, it avoided thedangerous forests below. The Ridgeway has been in continuous use for aslong as anyone knows. You can walk along it and indeed camp on it -- whichI did when I was a teenager.
On or near the Ridgeway are numerous prehistoric sites. The highestconcentration is around Uffington, with Uffington White Horse, UffingtonCastle, and Wayland's Smithy.
I provide some archaeological information below.
My own pictures (below) are pretty feeble. Blame me forunimaginativeness, poor composition, deviations from the level, etc. But"the bad workman always blames his tools": the awful camera I used for most of these photos (insummer '98) gave me very little control over exposure and none overfocus.
You see the horse'swhiskers, three of the horse's legs, the Manger, and Dragon Hill.
Uffington White Horse is about three thousand yearsold, making it by far the oldest of Britain's chalk hill figures as wellas the most beautiful and -- since it can only be viewed properly from ahelicopter -- mysterious.
The other chalk horses are mostly about two hundred years oldand some are a lot newer. Of the older hill figures, the
The horse was made by digging trenches and filling these with chalk. Olderphotographs show the horse with slightly narrower or fatter lines, but thepositions of these lines has not been changed.
The horse needs and gets regular maintenance. If you visit it, pleasedon't walk on it or closer to it than the fences imply.
The Manger is naturally made, by glacier erosion during the last iceage. However, the terrace on one side is the result of intensive plowingduring medieval times (before the Black Death). Its name derives fromthe belief that the White Horse comes here to feed at night.
Dragon Hill, so improbably symmetrical as to resemble a richEnglishman's folly re-creation of Mt Fuji, is thought to be a naturalchalk outcrop shaped by man. St George is said to have slain the dragonon top, and the seepage of the dragon's blood is what has poisoned theearth and presented grass from growing at the top.
Uffington Castle hill fort (about three hectares) is around 2700 yearsold. It is an earthwork, surrounded by a wall, then a ditch, and then alower wall. It originally had wooden fortifications; these were laterreplaced by stones (which also are long gone). In historical times theCastle has been used for fairs, sometimes in connection with the WhiteHorse.
Wayland's Smithy is over a kilometre west of Uffington White Horse. Theoriginal mound dates back five thousand years, but in neolithic timesthe mound was enlarged and sarsen stones were placed in front. Accordingto local legend, a horse left there overnight would be shod by Wayland.
derived most of the information here from the excellentnotice -- dating from 1993 or later -- placed next to the WhiteHorse. My thanks to the anonymous writer(s).
Look at these pages, too: