Osmington White Horse – Osmington, England - Atlas Obscura

Osmington White Horse

Osmington, England

Want to properly offend a king? Sculpt a giant hill figure in chalk of him riding out of town. 


The 280 ft. long and 323 ft. high hill figure of King George III riding his horse away from the Weymouth area was most likely created as a compliment, but legend has it that the king saw it as an offense, and never returned to the area again after viewing it.

Despite the misunderstanding between the royal and his subjects, the Osmington White Horse remains just to the north of Weymouth, and can be seen for miles. Sculpted in 1808 into the limestone Osmington hill, this horse and rider are unique, serving as the only example of both leucippotomy and gigantotomy, leucippotomy being the art of carving horses, and gigantotomy the art of carving humans, in the ancient craft of creating hill figures.

It’s hard to say how far back hill figures date, but its been practiced since prehistory, and is common in England. A type of geoglyph made by cutting into a hillside to create a visual representation that can be seen from afar, hill figures need to be maintained if they are to be enjoyed for centuries to come.

The Osmington White Horse was restored for a television show in 1989, but haste led to mistakes, and errors were made. In August 2011, the horse was given a prank makeover and donned a unicorn horn made of plastic sheeting for a time. It finally got a proper restoration in March, 2012 to prepare for the 2012 Olympics and has been brought back to the original 1808 shape by volunteers who spent two years carrying out the labor intensive overhaul.

Know Before You Go

Best viewed from the A353 road

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web