Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Hunters Horse Around Volume 55 Number 6, November/December 2002
by Colleen P. Popson


Disgruntled fox hunters added images to the Bronze-Age Uffington Horse to draw attention to their cause. It worked. [LARGER IMAGE]

An anonymous group of disgruntled hunters have taken to the English countryside and used the chalk figures of the Bronze-Age Uffington Horse ("Timeless Thoroughbred," September/October 2001) and the nineteenth-century White Horse of Kilburn as billboards to advertise their cause. Calling themselves the Real Countryside Alliance (RCA)--distinguishing themselves from the established Countryside Alliance, which among other things, fights for the rights of hunters--the group used washable paint to add riders and hunting hounds to the monuments. RCA members are angry about current policies restricting their freedom to hunt foxes with hounds, and believe the Countryside Alliance has been too soft in its protests.

The Countryside Alliance has publicly denounced the act; its website states, "the misuse by these people of our name is an insult to the vast majority of our own membership, who have repeatedly demonstrated how responsible and peaceable they are in their own campaigning." In a written statement, English Heritage, the government body that oversees cultural heritage preservation, responded to the act: "We deplore any unauthorized and therefore unlawful interference with the Uffington White Horse, which is a much-loved local landmark as well as a nationally important and sensitive site."

This most recent act of defilement marked the end of a summer that opened with an anatomical augmentation to the chalk figure known as the Long Man of Wilmington, presumably an attempt by May Day pranksters, in the spirit of the fertility celebration, to help the monument live up to his name. Both the Long Man and the horses have now returned to their original states, the work of the vandals washed away by rain.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America