The guardian of the South Downs has received a seasonal spruce up thanks to the team and volunteers at The Sussex Archaeological Society.

The Long Man of Wilmington, located just off the A27 five miles outside of Eastbourne, is Europe’s largest portrayal of the human form, dating back to at least 1710 when the surveyor John Rowley illustrated the figure.It was gifted to the Society in 1925 by the Duke of Devonshire and the Society has cared for the scheduled monument ever since, ensuring it is free for the public to access.

As part of its regular programme of maintenance, teams from the Society took their tools up onto the downs to tend to the area around the landmark. After four hours of hard graft, the grass around the white outline had been trimmed back so that it remains visible for miles around throughout the summer months.

James Neal, Head Gardener at Michelham Priory, who oversees the maintenance of the Long Man, said: “The Long Man is a much-loved landmark and it’s with real pride that the Society – with the support of our amazing volunteers – tends and cares for it.

 “Now we have carried out this work, the white outline should remain visible throughout the summer season, acting as a welcome sight for those passing.”

Until the 19th century when it was marked out in yellow bricks, the Long Man was only visible in certain light conditions. During World War II, the figure was painted green to prevent enemy aviators using it as a landmark. Restoration in 1969 replaced the bricks with concrete blocks that are now regularly painted to keep the Long Man visible from many miles away.

Access to the Long Man is free though donations to the Society to support its upkeep are very much welcomed.

Find out more about visiting The Long Man of Wilmington.