Curiosities of the Long Man - and his girlfriend

rouser 2013
rouser 2013

Rouser, along with just about everyone else, has for decades been fascinated by the Long Man of Wilmington.

The form of the hill-face on which the giant rests is particularly interesting.

There has been suggestion that the hill has been artificially flattened to a uniform 28° slope though it is more likely that the natural shape was chosen because of its qualities.

The slope itself stands between two spurs of lands and forms a V shape, with the hill-face being slightly convex rather than concave.

All of this might suggest some symbolism relating to female genitalia.

This becomes more interesting when one looks at the folklore relating to the Long Man’s supposed companion, Eve, which is supposed to be on Hindover Hill near Alfriston.

Hindover Hill, which is decorated by a modern white horse is one spur of a pair that forms a V shape shape in between even more defined than on Windover Hill.

The second spur is crowned by a large round barrow of a similar size to the one on Windover Hill which some people think is a neolithic oval barrow.

The form of the area on which the Long Man is carved also gives it acoustic qualities akin to an amphitheatre. A person standing on the Long Man and making a noise can be heard a lot further away than if they weren’t, suggesting that the area might have been used for public speaking, with the might of the giant behind the speaker adding additional weight to the words.

Between the wars Wilmington would ring to the band music of the Territorials, who camped on the Downs, and other visitors were the gipsies (didicais to the locals, a name of respect meaning gipsies of the better sort, not like mumpers or pikers).

They used to camp on the green while they helped the farmers through the summer’s heavy workload.

Several ghosts have also favoured this place. There was a peg-legged sailor who sat in a chair in the village street smoking a clay pipe,

and an eerie light which haunted one of the cottages and led the beholder into outbuildings before disappearing.

The Chantry, which has a stone face above the front door said to be a caricature of one of the village’s clergymen carved by sculptor with a sense of humour or an axe to grind, was once a school. It was run by an elderly woman who had a tough approach to young offenders.

They were tied to a beam with a cord and threatened with a visit from the blacksmith to pull out their teeth with his tongs.