Index Robin Allott


A - NET RMA 14 May 1998

In reply to Philip about the hill-figures, Wilmington is quite near Seaford. One gets a good view of the Long Man of Wilmington approaching from the Eastbourne road. About five years ago the resemblance between the Long Man and Orion struck me; I wrote to the local newspaper suggesting this and sought to relate the meridian of Orion to the winter solstice, a week or so later in December; at the meridian for Orion (midnight December 15) the constellation can be seen due South immediately above the Long Man. The precession of the equinoxes causes the apparent position of the constellations to change over the centuries and I calculated that in 3000 BC or so (I have not repeated the calculation and it was probably wrong) the southerly appearance of the meridian of Orion should coincide with the winter solstice. I wondered whether there might be any similar correspondence for the summer solstice; Sagittarius seemed to fit, looking somewhat like the White Horse.

Recently on the Internet I came across a page devoted to information about hill figures with photographs of the Long Man of Wilmington and the White Horse. I used a computer program to remove the background and leave the outline of the figures clear and then looked for representations of the constellations. The most useful came from Astronomy for Night Watchers [Third Impression Mcmxliv] by J.B. Sidgwick, Member of the Société Astronomique de France and of the British Astronomical Association. I scanned the diagrams for Orion and Sagittarius and added them to the photographs. The history of the Cerne Abbas giant is even more obscure than the histories of the White Horse and the Long Man; I have since done a similar comparison between a photograph of the Cerne Giant (before its recent 'reconstruction' by English Heritage or similar) and Orion; the resemblance is even more striking than for the Long Man.