From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Uffington White Horse & Dragon Hill

Hill Figure
51° 34' 38.75" N 1° 33' 53.5"W
1000 BC

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Uffington White Horse is a highly stylized hill figure, 374 feet long, cut out of the turf on the upper slopes of Uffington Castle, in Oxfordshire. Best views of the horse are obtained from the north, particularly from around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham.

The figure has been shown to date back some 3,000 years, to the Bronze Age, based on optically stimulated luminescence dating carried out following archaeological investigations in 1994. These studies produced three dates ranging between 1400 and 600 BC. Iron Age coins have been found that bear a representation of the Uffington White Horse reinforcing the early dating of this artifact, thus further discounting alternate theories that the figure was created in the Early Middle Ages.

It has long been debated whether the chalk figure is intended to represent a horse or some other animal. However, it has been called a horse since the eleventh century at least. An Abingdon cartulary, written by monks on vellum, between 1072 and 1084, refers to "mons albi equi" at Uffington ("the White Horse Hill"). The horse is thought to represent a tribal symbol perhaps connected with the builders of Uffington Castle. Due to the angle of the slope it is carved on, only a small part of the horse can be seen at a time by an observer standing on the ground.

Up until the late 19th century the horse was scoured every seven years as part of a more general local fair held on the hill. However, when the regular cleaning is halted the figure quickly becomes obscured. It has always needed frequent work, currently by English Heritage, for the figure to remain visible.

Dragon Hill is a small hillock immediately below the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire) also known as Ecelesbeorg.

Dragon Hill is a natural chalk hill with an artificial flat-top and is situated on the scarp slope of White Horse Hill. This spur of natural rock has been shaped for some unknown purpose in antiquity. It has been suggested as some sort of Iron Age ritual site associated with the nearby hill-figure.

Its sides have been steepened and its top leveled to make a drum shape. In the early nineteenth century Dragon Hill was thought to be a built feature such as a barrow, and the Saxons believed it was a barrow too, but when explored in 1852 it was concluded that it was a natural rock outcrop. Its projection well above the surrounding chalk slope nevertheless suggests that it is at least in part a built feature.


The legend that it was on the summit of dragon hill, that Saint George slew the dragon. A bare patch of chalk upon which no grass will grow is purported to be where the dragon's blood spilled.