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Research project seeks memories and photographs of Marlborough's White Horse

How many visitors to Marlborough know the town has a 'white horse'?  How many people who live in the Marlborough area have actually seen its 'white horse'?

The 'white horse' sits beneath the western part of Granham Hill above Preshute - it is sometimes referred to as the Preshute White Horse.  It is on a shallow slope and partially hidden from below by trees.  

The choice of this position is somewhat strange.  One theory is that it was designed to be seen from the top of the Marlborough Mound.

It was, so the story goes, cut into the turf by pupils from a local school in 1804 - 39 years before the College was founded.  The school was situated in the High Street - in what was once the Ivy House Hotel and is now part of Marlborough College.  

A research project led by Garry Gibbons has been using modern archaeological techniques to delve into the history of Marlborough's white horse - and into its changing shape.

This research project - funded by the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Beauty - has for the first time accurately recorded the figure's outline and the earthworks associated with the hill-figure. When analysed in conjunction with some nineteenth century photographs the research has discovered, this work will show how the horse has changed shape over the past 150 years.

It raises the question as to whether the horse should be kept in its current shape or should be modified to recover its original outline.   The project will also present a number of 'care strategies' for its future maintenance to Marlborough College, which is the hill-figure's custodian.

The story of the horse's origin comes from a study of Wiltshire's white horses written in the latter part of the nineteenth century by a certain Reverend W C Plenderleath. This project has started testing Plenderleath’s story of how the Marlborough white horse was created and its early history.

The project team is holding an event on Saturday (April 2) at the Marlborough College Cricket pavilion (11.00am to 4.00pm) - see details below.  They are very keen to hear from anyone who has memories, stories or old photographs of Marlborough's white horse.

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  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07
  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-
  • IMG 9097
  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters
  • IMG 8472