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The Long Man of Wilmington (Hill Figure)

'Pro-hunt slogan burnt into landmark hillside'
Evening Argus 15/9/04

Hunt supporters burned the words No Ban into grassland beside the famous Long Man of Wilmington. The 235ft downland chalk figure at Wilmington, near Eastbourne, was one of 14 countryside spots across the UK targeted by the Countryside Alliance. Round bales of hay were used to scorch the earth with 20m-high words ahead of today's debate by MPs to outlaw hunting with dogs.

In a move designed to stoke up support for their campaign, the group sought permission from landowners before making their stand. Organiser James Hallett said East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was notified in advance and the fire was started about ten yards left of the Long Man. He said: "This was a signal to the Government we are coming for them. They have bitten off more than they can chew this time. The Government has chosen the path of prejudice and spite. The reaction it unleashes will be its own responsibility. The lighting of the No Ban fires are our signal to this Government that we will not be beaten by such bigotry and intolerance."

Firefighters in East Sussex received several calls from people driving along the A27 as the controlled fire was started. A fire brigade spokesman said: "Once we realised it was controlled burning, we just let it run its course and stuck around to make sure it didn't spread."

It is not the first time the ancient Long Man has been targeted. In July, vandals defaced the chalk figure with obscenities and anti-war slogans. A large appendage was added and slogans scrawled on the surrounding grass. However, the visual impact of the site has also been used to highlight charities and campaigns from National Hospice Month to World Sight Day.

I am adding some sites on Windover Hill, the site of the Long Man of Wilmington. These photographs were taken nearly 4 years ago and I have only just dug them up!

The landscape above the Long Man is well worth a visit for those who don't mind shapes in the grass with no interesting rocks cluttering up the place. We don't really do rocks in this neck of the woods.

(See the Goldstone, in Brighton, for a notable exception. The only megalith to have had a football ground named after it!)

The fact that a large Neolithic Long Barrow and a large Bronze Age Round Barrow seem to be aligned with the space on which the Long Man now stands is something that I find intriguing. While the Naturalistic figure of the Long Man could only be Roman at the very oldest, I believe there to have been something on this site for a very long time. If only we could see what were the original designs on this hill.

Men Scryfa (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The inscription on the stone reads RIALOBRANI CUNOVALI FILI.

I have read that as this is not proper Latin, but a version being used at the time of carving by locals living on the edge of the Roman Empire, an exact translation is difficult, but "of the Royal Raven, son of the Glorious Prince" is close.

Source: Antiquities of West Cornwall. Guide 1: The Men-An-Tol Holed Stone
[ISBN 0-9512371-2-8]
I am an Atheist Naturalist Humanist Neo-Pagan Ritualist Revivalist Philosophical Druid (Yes that title is tongue-in-cheek), living and practising in Sussex.

The Long Man of Wilmington is a site of great importance for me and was the first with which I feel I connected spiritually. In 1998 I started walking extensively in the area of the Long Man as well as taking an interest in its history.

Both my grandfathers died in early 1999 (See my fieldnotes on Windmill Hill). As a way of honouring them, between April 1999 and August 2000 I walked the route from Eastbourne, in East Sussex, to The Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, via the South Down's Way, Winchester Cathedral, the Clarendon Way, Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, the Vale of Pewsey, Avebury and the Ridgeway.
The walk also took in visits to both of their graves, in Sussex and Wiltshire, en route.

In 2001 I extended this walk from Salisbury Cathedral, West to Wells Cathedral and then on to Glastonbury Tor.

Nearly all of my earlier pictures were taken during these walks and I tend to focus, overall, on Sussex and the South Downs.

In recent years I have also taken an interest in Ireland, as marrying into an Irish family does tend to mean one visits the place from time to time!

Although I have become an atheist, I still class myself as a Pagan. This can give rise to interesting discussions!

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