The Long Man of Wilmington
South Downs National Park
What is it?
It is a mysterious, 235-feet long outline of a man on the slopes of Windover Hill in East Sussex.
Why it is special?
No-one knows why it's there. The outline could be an ancient fertility symbol, a depiction of an ancient warrior or an early 18th century folly. No-one is really sure how old it is either, many think it’s prehistoric, and that’s part of its allure.
The earliest drawing of the Long Man was made by a surveyor, John Rowley, in 1710. It shows the original figure was outlined as a shadow or indentation in the grassy slope rather than as a solid line.
It wasn’t until 1874 that it was marked out in yellow bricks. In 1969 these were replaced with pre-cast concrete blocks. These are regularly painted and the Long Man is visible from many miles away.
Tell us something we didn’t know
In the Second World War the outline of the figure was painted green so it would blend in with the hillside, to avoid German pilots using it as a landmark.
What else can I do there?
The 100-mile long South Downs Way National Trail passes by the Long Man of Wilmington. You can walk, cycle or horse ride along all or part of the path.
How to get there
The Long Man is signposted from the A27, two miles west of the junction with the A22 (A2270) at Polegate and 10 miles east of Lewes.
The nearest railway stations are Berwick and Polegate, both around three miles away.
The Downlander bus and rail ticket lets you explore the South Downs by public transport.