Blog Archives

The Bulford Kiwi

Not many families have a big bird named after them.

Well, we do! It is a New Zealand Kiwi bird and it is carved into the chalk hills in Wiltshire, England. It has been there since 1919, so close to famous, ancient Stonehenge, yet virtually unknown.

During my genealogy searching online for family members, like many researchers, I ‘Googled’ my surname, Bulford, but I would always get sent to ‘Bulford Camp’ in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the UK, which is a large Army camp that was established in 1897.

The Bulford Army Base is still in use today alongside Bulford Village and the Church. Many times, over the years, family members would go to Bulford to get our photos taken with the Village sign.

My Uncle Roy Bulford Circa 1960’s

Marian, Bulford Camp sign. 1993. No longer a country road!  

Bulford Village grew up on the gravels beside the river Avon. The meaning of Bulford is difficult but the most likely explanation is ‘the ford where the ragged robins grow’ or ‘ragged robin island’.  Bulut is Saxon for ‘ragged robin’ and in the 12th century the name was Bultesford. ¹

The Bulford Kiwi is carved on Beacon Hill above the military village of Bulford on Salisbury Plain. Hill figures, or geoglyphs, ² are designed to be seen from afar rather than above and are a phenomenon especially seen in England. The letters “N.Z.” are 65 feet (20 m) high.

This one was carved after the First World War by the Kiwis (as the New Zealanders were called), eager to get back home. Apparently, no troop ships were immediately available and the troops had a few riots in protest, so officers decided that they should be kept busy by carving a Kiwi into the chalk hills!

In 1919, the Canterbury and Otago Engineer Battalions started their work. The design was drawn by Sergeant-Major Percy Cecil Blenkarne, a drawing instructor in the Education Staff, from a sketch of a stuffed kiwi specimen in the British Museum.

In real life, Kiwis are a nocturnal, flightless bird about the size of a chicken with long legs and beak. The kiwi’s muscular legs make up around a third of its total body weight and can outrun a man. The chalk Kiwi’s body covers 1.5 acres (6,100 m2).

Kiwi Bird found only in New Zealand

The site was surveyed and the design put on to the site by Sergeant-Major V.T. Low of the education staff. From the Kiwi’s feet to the top of its back is 420 feet (130 m) and the beak is 150 feet (46 m) long.

In the years after the Kiwi’s creation, the Kiwi Polish Company – the very polish used to shine our forces’ issued marching boots – maintained the Kiwi through their offices in London, employing local villagers to do the work. Although it had “little if any advertising value [for the company]”, they explained their interest in its upkeep as its being a memorial to the New Zealand troops.³

The chalk Bulford Kiwi

 

SOURCES

Bulford parish itself is rectangular, extending eastwards from the banks of the river and the boundaries have remained unchanged for more than a thousand years. In the Middle Ages, there was a settlement called Hindurrington, to the north of Bulford church, that was also on the river gravels. The name may have originated because the settlement was at the back of Durrington, which was on the other side of the river.[1]

http://bulfordparishcouncil.org/history-bulford-village.html [1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_figure Info about the chalk figures in the UK [2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulford_Kiwi shoe polish [3]

FOOTNOTES

Hill figures are cut in the grass to reveal the chalk and include the Cerne Abbas Giant the Uffington White Horse, the Long Man of Wilmington as well as the ‘lost’ carvings at Cambridge, Oxford and Plymouth Hoe.

For further photos of the chalk Kiwi follow this link:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=Bulford+Kiwi+photos&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=M88tWo3VE8XL8AfXvqzIBQ

%d bloggers like this: