A few years ago, I spent a couple of hours bashing an ancient monument with a hammer, and this summer, there’s a chance to do it again.
The Uffington White Horse, an iron-age era hill figure formed from deep trenches cut into the Oxfordshire countryside and filled with white chalk needs to be topped up to keep it fresh and white by re-chalking each year.
But, this year will be different!
Thanks to the pandemic, the horse wasn’t cleaned and chalked for a couple of years, so they are having two different sorts of events this year to catch up.
Both events are free.
Scouring the White Horse
Over the weekend of the 22nd/23rd July, people can turn up and help to weed and remove grasses growing in the chalk. This was a 3000-year old ritual as important as the chalking, to stop the chalk from being completely obscured by growing grasses. If not carried out regularly, within a few decades the white horse would have completely vanished.
Details are here.
Chalking the Horse
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend (26th-28th Aug), you can take part in the chalking. You’ll be given a hammer and a bucket of chalk and asked to bash the chalk into the monument to give it a fresh clean look.
An hour or so sitting on the grassy slopes, chatting away and bashing an ancient monument with hammers. What a curiously perfect way to spend some time. It’s also oddly very very relaxing, the tap-tapping away at the chalk to create that perfect porcelain surface as all the worries of the weeks fade away.
Details are here.
Tom Scott also turned up for a bit of a bash one year.
Getting to the Uffington White Horse
If coming by car, there’s a chargeable (free for National Trust members) car park at the White Horse.
If coming by public transport, then erm, ahh, this is rural lands and there is a once-every-two-hours bus from Swindon to the nearby town of Ashbury on Saturdays via route 47. Nothing on Sun or Bank Holiday Mondays.