Westbury White Horse – Bratton, England - Atlas Obscura

Westbury White Horse

Bratton, England

A giant white horse drawn on an English hillside may not have been intended to be a horse at all. 


Resting near an ancient historic fort, the Westbury White Horse was created over 300 years ago, but no one is quite sure why or by whom.

The current white horse built into the Bratton hillside was etched in 1778 but something has existed on the hill for over 3,000 years. In pre-history the site was actually a barrow as evidenced by human remains that have been excavated from the hill. There is also evidence that there was a previous hill figure as well that may not have been a horse. Unfortunately whatever form the previous carving may have taken has been destroyed by the current white horse, although the origins of the massive equine drawing, despite being much more recent, are equally steeped in mystery.   

No one is sure who built the current horse onto the hillside, but there are accounts of the over-sized dating back to the 1700’s. It has been speculated that the horse was installed as a commemorative monument to a successful battle, although no concrete evidence of this connection has ever been found. The horse was also the heraldic symbol of an eighteenth century royal family who may have installed the animal art. Although this too is simple speculation.

In more recent years, the mysterious Westbury White Horse has been cast in cement and was cleaned and restored in 2007. However the elements are not particularly kind to the monument and it is already showing signs of wear and damage.   

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