Hackpen White Horse – Wiltshire, England - Atlas Obscura
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Wiltshire, England

Hackpen White Horse

England's only square-dimension hill horse was built to celebrate Queen Victoria's coronation. 

The white horse on Hackpen Hill stands out within Wiltshire, a county known for its herd of larger-than-life chalk figures, for a mathematical reason. Measuring a neat 90 square feet, it’s the only square-dimension horse in England.

The carving is of unknown origins; however, most speculate a parish clerk named Henry Eatwell created the figure in 1838 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s coronation. The horse is etched atop a hill that divides cattle country from the chalk downs, which is believed to be referenced in the phrase “as different as chalk and cheese” (the English equivalent of comparing apples and oranges).

Though the horse was meant to honor a royal, its cartoonish shape makes it look quite unsuited to be a steed fit for a queen. Critics have looked down upon its “fox-like” design and chalked it up to being no more than a Victorian folly. Regardless of the criticism, the Hackpen White Horse is still a beloved local landmark. It receives regular scouring, making it a rather well-groomed specimen. Real horses frequent its field as well and can be seen grazing alongside the carving, as if welcoming it into their herd.

Like most other chalk horses, the appearance of the Hackpen Hill equine has changed over time. It sometimes sports a large, doe-like eye. In 2009, it was covered in red fabric as part of Red Nose Day, a charity campain organized by Comic Relief.

Know Before You Go

It's open year around. Parking on the top of the hill provides access to the area. The horse is in walking distance from the nearby Barbury Castle. The best view of the horse is said to be from the nearby B4041 road, whilst the A361 road near Broad Hinton also provides a clear view. You can also view the horse from the B4041 road. The A361 road near Broad Hinton also provides a clear view.

Don't feed the real horses that frequent the field.