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The Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex

Britain, more particularly Southern England, has several giant figures carved into chalk hillsides, the two most famous being The Cerne Abbas Giant , and The Long Man of Wilmington near Eastbourne . The two have in common that there is much debate about when they were carved, ranging from prehistory to just a few centuries ago; and even more about what they signify.
As regards The Long Man of Wilmington the most recent scientific efforts to date the depiction gave the mid-16th century, though doubtless those who believe it to be of ancient pagan origin will already have their arguments ready to counter this. The figure, more than 230 feet high and about the same wide, would appear to have changed over the years, and not just in being marked out in bricks and then later in concrete blocks. Earlier it seems the head was more helmet shaped, possibly with a plume; and the two staves he holds may once have been a rake and a scythe. What is certain is that it took skill to create the figure on the steep hillside so that it looks in proportion when viewed from the bottom of the hill.
Various ideas have been put forward for what the Long Man depicts: a pagan god of war; a Roman soldier or Saxon warrior; a fertility symbol though no hard evidence exists to prove he ever had his manhood visible, an absence that in June 2010 was rectified without permission; or maybe a monk linked to a nearby monastery. In seeking meaning we may be diverted from the aesthetic merit of what is a huge work of art, which is a pity as with or without his family jewels the figure is impressive.

1 Response to The Long Man of Wilmington

From Wulf Ingessunu on 6th November 2011
The Long Man of Wilmington appears to be an ancient god known as Waendal, an aspect of the English god Woden, as the Great Initiator or the "April Fool". The figure can be seen on the buckle found at Finglesham (Kent) and on die-casts found in Sweden. The figure may originally have had a horned helmet and twin spears, as on the aforesaid objects. The type of figure seen in the Long Man can also be found on the Sutton Hoo Helmet, a cultic mask dedicated to the god Woden. It is truly amazing that this ancient god could have been cut into the South Downs as late as the 16th Century. If so, then the Old Gods were never really destroyed! The figure has a phallic-shaped long barrow above it, which may underline the association with the virile warrior (not just fertility, but also male warrior virility). The archetype of the One-Eyed Hunter-God (Woden) is also shown here with the Hunter's Burgh long-barrow being just to the East of the figure. Waendal is the Wild Huntsman who leads the Army of the Dead, and is a title of Woden.

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