The origins of this huge figure cut into the chalk of the north face of the South Downs are unclear but it has probably served as a marker since Neolithic times. The plain between the North and South Downs was originally forest and a hazardous place inhabited by wolves. The steep scarp face of the Downs would have been a clear border between the dangers of the forest and the exposed grassy uplands where passage and trade was easy and safe.
The LongMan is the second largest representation of a human figure in the world and obviously would have been clearly visible for many miles. As well as being a marker it probably had religious significance and would have been a gathering point for people from a wide area. The natural amphitheatre of the site amplifies sounds and would have made a spectacular backdrop for a speaker standing on The LongMan.
The poles that The LongMan carries have been variously interpreted as measuring sticks, farming implements (they have been altered over time) and also as the doors to the underworld.
The whole area seems to have been interpreted as the border between the real and spirit worlds and has acquired a number of myths over the centuries. There are numerous burial barrows and other earthworks on the summit of Windover Hill and a number of ley lines pass through the site. Wilmington Priory which was founded by Benedictine monks from Normandy lies at the foot of the hill and has a hidden undercroft used as a place of worship by the Knights Templar. It was not seized during the wars against the French so perhaps held some secret? Modern Pagans still perform ceremonies here and apparently dog walkers are occasionally surprised by naked celebrants braving the elements on this very exposed site.