Thanks for introducing me to these geoglyphs, writingmum! What I find most cool about them is that they're not, with some exception, ruins, but monuments requiring regular upkeep. The idea of a community maintaining a big outdoor artwork for hundreds, or even thousands of years, fills me with a sense of belonging, even though I live almost 1/4th of the way around the globe from them, in a neighborhood that didn't exist 60 years ago, in a nation where only a few families have lived more than a couple of centuries, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, a place devoid to the best of my reconnoitering of a hill worthy of a big geoglyph – though viewed from above, the planned layout of Washington DC has lots of well-developed conspiracy theories about the figures formed by its various building and monuments. (eg:
For the purpose of my book, I need to find a reason for the placement of the white horses on Salisbury plain.
, from a random conspiracy theory website, freemasonrywatch.org), even inspiring a few rather cheesy movies (eg: Nick Cage’s 2004 National Treasure)
Speaking of Masons ...
Various Masonic lodges (more or less civic clubs, but with more mystery and heritage than most) are traditional recipients of the credit/blame for various mysterious constructions, but unlike our national monuments (which were openly designed, built and dedicated by less and more famous Mason), some of your white horses are much too old for their original construction to have had any Masons involved. Uffington, for example, is believed to have been built about 3,000 years ago. The oldest Masonic lodges, guilds of actual stoneworkers, date back no further than about 600 years ago, and didn’t really gain their modern, mystical/ceremonial character until about 300 years ago.
I'm thinking along the lines...the men who were responsible for making the horses were masons or a group of men in some other society, maybe even religious...
Some pretty interesting Bronze age folk are likely behind the oldest white horses and other geoglyphs, but to learn much about them, you’ll have to dig pretty deep into prehistory, and use a lot of imagination.
Some of the newer ones, like Pewsey, dated at around 1785, are much more modern, and might have had some Masons behind them – but I doubt there’s much of a connection between Masonic ritual and white horses.
You've found some pretty neat figures in these visible, ruined, and lost white horses geoglyphs (I'm not sure if all of them are agreed to actually be horses, or if there's not a dragon or some other animal or two mixed in) I’ve marked up you original sketch with them (and one of my own):
Triangle A (30o,60o,90o)
Broad town, Hackpen, Ham Hill
Ham Hill, TAn hill, Old devizes
Old Devizes, Broad town
Triangle B (30o,60o,90o)
Uffington, Ham Hill
Ham Hil, New Pewsey*, Westbury
Westbury, New Devizes, Rockley, Uffington
Triangle C (30o,60o,90o)
Marlborough, Alton Barnes
Alton Barnes, Cherhill
Mine – let’s call it triangle D - is formed by Broad Town, Tan Hill, and New Devises.
If you measure them carefully (I did just by counting the pixels in the map image you posted), you’ll find they aren’t precisely (or in the case of triangle C, even close to) 30° 60° 90° triangles. Here are my angle measurements, rounded to the nearest 0.01°
Triangle A: 30.52° 62.07° 87.41° (sum of square error: 3.36°)
Triangle B: 27.81° 62.72° 90.54° (SSE 3.53°)
Triangle C: 50.67° 52.67° 83.34° (SSE 22.92°)
Triangle D: 32.23° 58.93° 88.84° (SSE 2.73°)
It’d take a lot more work than the quick measuring ad simple calculations I used to get the above, both map checking and math, to give any sort of statistical likehood that these figures are intentional or due to chance. My guess is that they’re not intentional.
I think to understand why white horses and other hill geoglyphs are placed where they are, you need to look at the local terrain. These drawings are visible from the ground, usually looking from a population center across an open valley. My guess is that this view dictated their placement to their original makers.
To understand the significance of them, I think you have to try to put yourself in the head of the people who first made and encountered them. Imagine being a bronze age (about 1,000 BC) traveler – perhaps a military scout sent by your local king to see what nearby’s ripe for pressuring or conquest, and cresting a hill to see the white horse at Uffington. I imagine being awed – and turning right around to report that we’d better not mess with whoever lives this way. I might conclude they have something supernatural on their side, but even if I think they’re just ordinary folk, I can see they’re good at organized work, and have serviceable tools, so are likely good at organizing into war parties with effective weapons and armor.
Imagine being a bronze age person who made the white horse. I imagine this person feeling pretty proud, powerful, and secure – though perhaps a bit tired.
Imagine being the bronze age person who’s idea it was, and/or who organized – though persuasion or intimidation – its making. I imagine this person feeling like king of the world.
IMHO, that’s were the real story is. Faeries and other fantastic elements can fit in OK, but the core of this story – or nearly any story, fictional or real – is about the human emotions that attended the events behind monuments, battlefields, and other remnants of humankind and nature.