- Vale of White Horse
The Vale of White Horse is a local government district of
Oxfordshirein England. The main town is Abingdon, other places include Faringdonand Wantage. There are 68 parishes within the district.
It is a geographically distinct region, lying between the
Berkshire Downsand the River Thames, named after the prehistoric Uffington White Horse. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, from the Municipal Borough of Abingdon, Wantage Urban District, Abingdon Rural District, Faringdon Rural Districtand part of the Wantage Rural Districtof Berkshire. The southern border of the district roughly approximates the Ridgeway Path. The area is often referred to as the ‘Vale of the White Horse’.
It is the valley of the
Ock, a stream which joins the Thames from the West at Abingdon. The Vale is almost flat and well-wooded; its green meadows and foliage contrasting richly with the bald summits of the White Horse Hills, which flank it on the south. The numerous elmtrees, that once were a major feature of the Vale, were lost to Dutch Elm Disease. To the North, a low ridge separates it from the upper Thames Valley, holding back the soft Jurassic sedimentarydeposits ( Greensand, Gaultand Kimmeridge Clay) behind a hard corallian limestone escarpmentridge, in what is technically a hanging valley; but local usage sometimes extends the vale to cover all the ground between the Cotswolds(on the north) and the White Horse Hills. According to the geographical definition, however, the Vale is from two to five miles wide, and the distance by road from Abingdon to Shrivenhamat its head is 18 miles.
Wantage is the only town in the heart of the Vale (although Faringdon, on the northwestern rim, is also a "Vale" town), lying in a sheltered hollow at the foot of the hills, along which, moreover, villages are more numerous than elsewhere in the vale. There are numerous springs emanating from the
chalkhills, which allowed these settlements to thrive in former times.
ites of interest
Towards the West, above Uffington, the hills reach a culminating point of 261 m (856 ft) in White Horse Hill. In its northern flank, just below the summit, a gigantic figure of a horse is cut, the turf being removed to show the white chalky soil beneath. This figure gives name to the hill, the range and the vale. It is 114 m (374 ft) long and highly stylised, the neck, body and tail varying little in width.
The origin of the figure is unknown. Tradition asserted it to be the monument of a victory over the Danes by King Alfred, who was born at Wantage, but the site of the
Battle of Ashdown(871 CE), has been variously located. Moreover, the figure has been dated to the Bronze Age, so it pre-dates the battle by many centuries. Many ancient remains occur in the vicinity of the Horse.
On the summit of the hill there is an extensive and well preserved circular camp, apparently used by the Romans but of much earlier origin. It is an Iron Age
hill fort. It is named Uffington Castlefrom the village in the vale below. Within a short distance are Hardwell Castle, a near-square work and, on the southern slope of the hills near Ashdown House, a small camp traditionally called Alfred's Castle. Further to the West, there is Liddington Castle.
A smooth, steep gully on the north flank of White Horse Hill is called the Manger, and to the west of it rises a bald mound named Dragon Hill, the traditional scene of
St George's victory over the dragon, the blood of which made the ground bare of grass for ever. But the name may derive from Celtic "Pendragon" ("dragon's head"), which was a title for a king, and may point to an early place of burial.
To the West of White Horse Hill lies a
long barrowcalled Wayland's Smithy, said to be the home of a smith who was never seen, but who shod the horses of travellers if they were left at the place with payment. The legend is elaborated, and the smith appears as a character, in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Kenilworth", and also in Rudyard Kipling's "Puck of Pook Hill"..
The White Horse has been carefully cleared of vegetation from time to time. The figure has remained clear of turf throughout its long existence, except for being covered as a precaution during the
Second World War. The cleaning process, known as the Scouring of the White Horse, was formerly made the occasion of a festival. Sports of all kinds were held, and keen rivalry was maintained, not only between the inhabitants of the local villages, but between local champions and those from distant parts of England. The first of such festivals known took place in 1755 and they died out only subsequently to 1857.
A grassy track represents the Ridgeway, claimed at the oldest road in Europe, perhaps five thousand years old. It travels along the crest of the hills, far above what would then have been marshy lowlands or dangerous forests, continuing
Icknield Street, from the Chilternsto the River Thames.
Other earthworks, in addition to those near the White Horse, overlook the Vale, such as Letcombe Castle (also known as
Segsbury Camp) above Wantage. At the foot of the hills, not far East of the Horse, is preserved the so-called Blowing Stoneof Kingston Lisle, a mass of sandstone(a sarsen) pierced with holes in such a way that, when blown like a trumpet, it produces a loud note. It is believed that, in earlier times, the stone served the purpose of a bugle.
Several of the village churches in the Vale are of interest, notably the fine Early English cruciform building at Uffington, that has a hexagonal tower and is known as "The Cathedral of the Vale" [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/churches/uffington.html] .
The Vale used to have a thriving dairy industry, especially in the 1960s. That has dwindled to just a few herds of dairy cows, in the first years of the 21st century. Farming is now mostly arable.
mineralresources are mined (quarried) in the Vale. These include sand, graveland (formerly) Fuller's Earth.
With the closure of the MG works at Abingdon, there is no motor industry, apart from some specialist car makers and component factories.
The length of the Vale is traversed by the main line of the
Great Western Railway, between Didcotand Swindon. There used to be a station on this line (Challow Station), situated on the A417 road, a little to the East of Stanford in the Vale. This was closed by Dr Beeching, in the early 1960s. The nearest main line stations are now Swindon, Oxford and Didcot Parkway.
Pendon Museum– "the main exhibit is an extensive model featuring scale replicas of buildings from the Vale."
Thomas Hughes, "The Scouring of the White Horse" (1859).
G. K. Chesterton, "The Ballad of the White Horse" (1911).
Rudyard Kipling, "Puck of Pook's Hill".
Tom Brown's Schooldays
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Look at other dictionaries:
Vale of White Horse — District Lage in Berkshire Status District Region South East England Verw.grafschaft Berks … Deutsch Wikipedia
Vale of White Horse — Distrito del Reino Unido Ubicación en el condado de Oxfords … Wikipedia Español
Vale of White Horse — 51° 36′ N 1° 30′ W / 51.6, 1.5 … Wikipédia en Français
Vale of White Horse — Sp Váit Hòrso slėnis Ap Vale of White Horse L D. Britanijoje (Anglijoje) … Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė
Vale of White Horse — ▪ district, England, United Kingdom district, administrative county of Oxfordshire, historic county of Berkshire, England, lying southwest of Oxford. It encompasses the northern part of the historic county of Berkshire. Its principal… … Universalium
Vale of White Horse local elections — Vale of White Horse Council is elected every four years.Political controlConservative 1973 1995Liberal Democrat 1995 presentCouncil electionsVale of White Horse Council election, 1999Vale of White Horse Council election, 2003Vale of White Horse… … Wikipedia
Vale of White Horse Council election, 2003 — Elections to Vale of White Horse Council were held on 1st May, 2003. The whole council was up for election with boundary changes having taken place since the last election in 1999. The Liberal Democrats stayed in overall control of the… … Wikipedia
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Drayton, Vale of White Horse — Coordinates: 51°38′49″N 1°18′47″W / 51.647°N 1.313°W / 51.647; 1.313 … Wikipedia
Milton, Vale of White Horse — Coordinates: 51°37′37″N 1°17′53″W / 51.627°N 1.298°W / 51.627; 1.298 … Wikipedia