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Westbury White Horse and Bratton Camp

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Bratton Camp is one of several Iron Age hill forts in Wiltshire, but this one is most famous for its distinctive White Horse carved into the hillside.

Westbury White Horse is the oldest and arguably the most famous White Horse hill figure in Wiltshire. Bratton Hill can be viewed from miles around and as such, the horse itself is a local landmark. I live more than 5 miles away as the crow flies and can see this horse clearly from the top of my house. It also comes into view from the train line so many a traveller has seen it on the journey between London and the South West of England.

The enormous horse that occupies the hill is not the original carving but it has provenance back to the mid 1700s. It was concreted over in the 1950s and now gets cleaned every few years so it does tend to fade from brilliant white to mid grey between cleans.

The view from the top of Bratton Hill is outstanding. You can gaze across towards Somerset, Bristol and to Roundway Down near Devizes.

In this picture you can clearly see the cement factory and it's chimney which was actually demolished in September 2016. This has improved the vista considerably.

The Iron Age fort can be clearly seen from the air, and even at ground level you can walk around the circuits of ditch and bank. In the middle is a clearly identifiable long barrow.

This site also has some Viking history, as the Battle of Ethandun is believed to refer to the nearby village of Edington. If true, this site could have been the location for the battle between King Alfred and Guthrum where Alfred defeated the Vikings. A memorial stone commemorating this great battle can be found in the field near the car park.

A few miles in the distance is Roundway Down which was the scene of a battle in the English Civil War so it is fair to say that this landscape has seen it's fair share of conflict.

When I visited in September 2015 I picked up a strange object in my drone camera which ended up in the Wiltshire times as a UFO story. That is probably a bit sensationalist, but if you have a few minutes take a look at the story and let me know what you think:

Access Information

There is a car park with a viewing point on Bratton Road, the B3098 just outside Westbury. You can also drive up to the top of the hill, following a road from

Bratton village, or from Westbury heading up Newtown.

There is plenty of parking at the top and a great many walks to complement your visit. The site is right on the edge of the military areas of Salisbury Plain so you do get the occasional loud bang and frequent over flying of military aircraft.

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Carl Bennett
Carl Bennett
Mar 14, 2021

Where to start? I first used the White Horse at Westbury when I went up to university interviews. When you're on the train from Paddington and see the horse you've just got enough time to get your things together, get your bag down and make your way to the door of the train to get off at Westbury. I'd thought that was a long barrow there for years, but never saw it confirmed before - it's not as clear from the ground. There are several mysteries concerning it too. The first is the old legend that on Midsummer's Eve the horse goes down the hill to drink at the brook, when the church clock in Bratton strikes midnight. Of course,…

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