White Horse, Vale of the

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

White Horse, Vale of the

Vale of the White Horse, district (1991 pop. 109,200), Oxfordshire, S central England. The vale is the valley of the Ock River. Abingdon is the administrative seat. Surgical instruments and automobiles are produced in the vicinity. The region is rich in associations with Alfred the Great, who was born in Wantage, the central town of the vale. According to tradition, his victory at Ashdown in 871 was commemorated by the White Horse on White Horse Hill, but the horse is more ancient, roughly 3,000 years old. The figure of the horse, over 350 ft (107 m) long, is at Uffington, near Wantage; it is fully visible only from the air. It was formed by cutting away the turf to form a trench, which was backfilled with white chalk. An Iron Age fort, Uffington Castle, is on the hill top, and there are also burial mounds that date from the Neolithic period and Bronze Age. There are other "white horses" of various ages in Wiltshire, Berkshire, Yorkshire, and elsewhere, but the one at Uffington is the most famous.

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