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The Land of the White Horse

Visions of England

David Miles



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Thames & Hudson
26 September 2019
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- The White Horse of Uffington is a mysterious chalk carving on the Wessex Downs. Folk memory says it has always been there, but it also says contradictory things about its age and creators. This immensely readable and enjoyable book looks into the White Horse's origins and legends, its place within wider English iconography, the symbolism of horses and their relationship with humankind from times immemorial. A fine blend of archaeology (the writer worked on the site), science, history, myth, folklore and storytelling, which is accessible and wears its research and scholarship lightly so that any interested reader will learn much of interest and even delight. Lindy Jones


The White Horse at Uffington is an icon of the English landscape - a sleek, almost abstract figure 120 yards long which was carved into the green turf of the spectacular chalk scarp of the North Wessex Downs in the early first millennium bc. For centuries antiquarians, travellers and local people speculated about the age of the Horse, who created it and why. Was it a memorial to King Alfred the Great's victory over the heathen Danes, an emblem of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers or a prehistoric banner, announcing the territory of a British tribe? Or was the Horse an actor in an elaborate prehistoric ritual, drawing the sun across the sky? The rich history of this ancient figure and its surroundings can help us understand how people have created and lived in the Downland landscape, which has inspired artists, poets and writers including Eric Ravilious, John Betjeman and J.R.R. Tolkien. The White Horse itself is most remarkable because it is still here. People have cared for it and curated it for centuries, even millennia. In that time the meaning of the Horse has changed, yet it has remained a symbol of continuity and is a myth for modern times.
By:   David Miles
Imprint:   Thames & Hudson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   840g
ISBN:   9780500519936
ISBN 10:   0500519935
Pages:   304
Publication Date:   26 September 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

David Miles was the Director of the Oxford Archaeological Unit for many years, and worked on projects in Britain, France, Greece and the West Indies. In 1999 he became Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage, where he developed a maritime archaeology unit and a project to study the impact of slavery in England. He has written many books on archaeology, particularly on the Roman and Migration periods in Britain, and one on the origins of the British, The Tribes of Britain.

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