The white horses which have been carved into Wiltshire hillsides have fascinated people around the world for centuries, and many often wonder how they came about. One that has a very unclear history is that of the Westbury White Horse.

There is a story which states that the horse was carved into the hillside to mark King Alfred winning the Battle of Ethandun. It is acknowledged that this could well be true, but the battle took place in 878 AD, and this particular story only came into being during the latter part of the 1700s. Other minor details, such as historians placing the battle location around two miles away also help to discredit the theory.

White Horse Royal Connections

However, it is more likely that the white horse is symbolic of the House of Hanover, which was the ruling royal family in the UK. The white horse was a feature of their heraldry, and some historians and other experts believe that the carvings started to appear around the same time, as a mark of loyalty to the new royals.

Even if the white horse of Westbury does have more modern origins than many would like to think, there are still plenty of legends which surround it. One tale states that when the church clock at Bratton hits midnight, the horse makes its way to the springs located below the hill to have a drink.

In the 1950s, Wiltshire council took the decision to concrete over it, saving money on upkeep. Regular maintenance is required, as occasionally vandalism occurs, so the horse is repainted when needed. To keep the horse a focal point of the area, it is sometimes lit up at night, usually during special events such as festivals. If you want to visit the area, it would be worth visiting when there is an event on for some fantastic views.