Alton Priors White Horse
Alton Priors White Horse
Cut into the southern slopes of Milk Hill, about a mile north of Alton Priors village, is the figure of a white horse, one of 8 similar hill figures in Wiltshire. Though the white horse may appear ancient, it is in fact, only 2 centuries old.
The hill figure was created at the instigation of a local landowner named Robert Pile, who may have been responsible for a similar white horse at nearby Pewsey. Pile hired a journeyman painter by the name of John Thorne and paid him £20 to design the horse. Thorne then subcontracted the actual work to John Harvey.
It seems that Thorne was a bit of a rascal. Before the work was complete, Thorne absconded with the money, leaving Robert Pile to pay Harvey for the work. As for Thorne, records show that he was hanged, though it isn't clear for what crime.
The shape of the horse has changed several times over the years. The neck has been thinned and the eye enlarged. Also, the original design had no ears or lips, so these have been added.
Like all chalk horses, the Alton Priors one needed regular scouring to keep its appearance up. Most recently, this upkeep involved bringing in over 150 tonnes of fresh chalk, which was used to resurface the horse.
The horse is very close to a pair of Iron Age hillforts, atop Milk Hill and Walkers Hill. The figure is roughly 160 feet high and an equal amount wide.

The hill figure is accessible via several footpaths from the village itself, but the easiest access is from a small parking area off the minor road between Lockeridge and Alton Barnes. Having said that, the best viewpoint is on the road itself, heading north from Alton Barnes.

About Alton Priors White Horse
Address: Wiltshire, England
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: There is a free parking area off the minor road between Lockeridge and Alton Barnes. Footpaths lead to an observation point.
Location map
OS: SU108630
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest

Alton Priors, All Saints - 0.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Alton Barnes, St Mary's Church - 0.6 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

West Kennet Long Barrow - 2.9 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Hatfield Earthworks (Marden Henge) - 3.1 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Avebury Sanctuary - 3.2 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Marden, All Saints Church - 3.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Silbury Hill - 3.5 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

West Kennet Avenue - 4 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

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Devizes Tourism Partnership
Wiltshire Heritage Museum
41 Long Street
SN10 1NS
Tel: 01380 800 400
The official Devizes TIC is now closed, but visitor information is available at several locations, including the Kennet and Avon Canal Museum, Wadworth Visitor Centre and Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Opening times vary with location. The Wiltshire Heritage Museum is currently open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sundays and Bank Holiday 12noon to 4pm (subject to change). Not open on Mondays in winter.