Archaeologists have completed work to restore the head and neck profile of the Uffington White Horse.

The project was undertaken by archaeologists from the National Trust and Oxford Archaeology to return Britain's oldest chalk figure to its original state.

Last year, studies revealed the 3000-year-old symbol had diminished in size due to the gradual encroachment of grass and topsoil movement.

Uffington White Horse after the restorationUffington White Horse after the restoration (Image: James Dobson/ National Trust)

The head and neck area was most significantly affected, having reduced to less than half its typical width.

To restore the 111-metre-long figure, the turf that had crept onto its outlines was removed, and the chalk from the top layer was redistributed.

National Trust archaeologist Adrian Cox said: "The Uffington White Horse is set in a dramatic landscape, shaped by nature and by people through time.

National Trust archaeologist Adrian CoxNational Trust archaeologist Adrian Cox (Image: James Dobson/ National Trust)

"It is a hugely important chalk figure, partly because it is the oldest scientifically dated example in Britain, dating back to the late Bronze Age.

"It is also an intriguing figure as we don't know for certain its original purpose.

"It could have been a way of marking territory or as a tribal symbol.

"What we do know is that through the efforts of generations of local people, the horse has been cared for, allowing it to survive for thousands of years to become an iconic feature of this landscape."

During the work to restore the White Horse’s profile, soil samples from the lowest layers of the figure have been taken to see if they can accurately date its creation.

Uffington White Horse restorationUffington White Horse restoration (Image: James Dobson/ National Trust)

Similar samples taken in the 1990s revealed the horse to be Britain’s oldest chalk figure, but as dating techniques have improved there is an opportunity to refine the date even further using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (dating.

This method analyses crystalline materials such as quartz or feldspar to determine the last time they were exposed to sunlight.

Oxford Archaeology project manager, Mark Dodd, said: "Having the opportunity to work on such an iconic landmark and contribute to this exciting project is a huge privilege for us and we’re delighted to be part of it.

Uffington White Horse restorationUffington White Horse restoration (Image: James Dobson/ National Trust)

"Now the hard work is done, and we can see elements of the monument restored to its former glory, we will be eagerly awaiting the results of research to see what new information this will bring to light."

English Heritage Senior Properties Curator Win Scutt, added: "As a Scheduled Monument, the Uffington White Horse is under the guardianship of English Heritage.

"We're delighted that work is being done to better understand this iconic place while it's returned to its former shape and size."