Kiwi Chalk Figure above Bulford Camp

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1443438

Date first listed: 12-Jun-2017

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Oct-2017

Statutory Address: Bulford, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SU1998543924

Map

Ordnance survey map of Kiwi Chalk Figure above Bulford Camp
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Location

Statutory Address: Bulford, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SU1998543924

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bulford

National Grid Reference: SU1998843923

Summary

A chalk hill figure of 1919 depicting a kiwi bird on the downland above Bulford Camp. It was created by New Zealand troops following the end of the First World War.

Reasons for Designation

The Kiwi Chalk Figure at Bulford, Wiltshire is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period: the model is strongly representative of the First World War period, which had a huge impact on communities throughout the world. Ten per cent of the New Zealand population (100,000 people) fought in the war and the Kiwi Chalk Figure is testament to their significant role during the War; * Rarity: hill figures in chalk downland areas are rare; * Documentation: the site is well-understood and documented; * Group value: First World War military chalk hill figures are also present on Fovant, Compton and Sutton Downs in Wiltshire (all scheduled) and represent a recognisable and significant historic feature in the landscape; * Survival/Condition: the monument survives well, if altered in proportion and detailing; * Fragility/Vulnerability: under a regular maintenance regime it is not vulnerable to significant degradation.

History

The chalk figure of a kiwi bird was created in the hillside above Sling Camp, on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, by New Zealand troops awaiting demobilisation following the end of the First World War in 1919. Sling Camp was the principal training depot for New Zealanders in England prior to their deployment to the Front. Although designed to accommodate 4,000 men, by September 1917 the camp was holding 4,500.

By 1919, frustration with further overcrowding and the continued enforcement of discipline after the end of the war led to the looting of a canteen and the officers’ mess. The ring leaders were jailed and then shipped home, and some of the remaining troops were set to work. Members of the Canterbury, Otago and Wellington Battalions under Captain Harry Clark created a chalk figure of a kiwi bird in the nearby hillside in April-June 1919 by removing 12in of top soil and replacing it with chalk pebbles. The kiwi was designed by Sergeant Major Percy Blenkarne, a drawing instructor in the New Zealand Army Education Corps. Blenkarne travelled to the Natural History Museum in London to confirm the anatomical dimensions of the bird. The hillside was surveyed and the outline of the Kiwi laid out by Sergeant Major Victor Low.

After 1919, Sling Camp was decommissioned and the huts removed. Later in the 20th century the chalk figure became overgrown until it was restored by the soldiers of 249 Signal Squadron (AMF(L)) in 1980 and has been maintained since then. As part of the scouring process the dimensions and detailing of the kiwi have altered over time. Other alterations have been made to help maintain the figure, including the insertion of subsurface drains. The ‘NZ’ initials were removed for a period, but are back in place in 2017.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS A chalk figure of a kiwi bird carved in a hillside by Salisbury Plain training area. It was first cut in 1919 and has been restored since that time. It is surrounded by a modern wire fence with two gates. Inside the south-east gate is a commemorative stone pillar with plaque.

DETAILS The figure is cut into the chalk hillside and comprises chalk stones laid on soil. Below the chalk, concrete and pebble French drains have been laid. The edges of the figure are lined with lengths of aluminium sheet, containing the stones. Around the perimeter of the figure steel staves support a modern wire-link fence, standing at a distance not less than 1m from the figure. At the south-east and north-west ends are steel pedestrian gates. Incorporated into the south-east gate is steel lettering: THE KIWI. The commemorative pillar is built of rubble stone and the fixed plaque is bronze.

The carving is in the shape of a Kiwi bird and measures 127m (420 ft) from head to toe (south-east to north-west). The bill is 45m (150 ft) long. The initials ‘N Z’ beneath the feet are 20m (65 ft) long.

The commemorative plaque is inscribed with a line drawing of a kiwi bird and a description of the history of the carving. The plaque was unveiled on 11 July 1986 by His Excellency Mr Bryce Harland, the New Zealand High Commissioner.

EXCLUSIONS All fences are excluded from the scheduling; although the ground beneath them is included.

Sources

Books and journals
Crawford, T S , Wiltshire and The Great War: Training the Empire's Soldiers, (2012), 70-73
Other
(Forthcoming) Brown, C, 2018. The Kiwi we left behind: A WW1 story of repatriation, a riot, and redemption

End of official listing