Sheep and white horses
There are reasons why England is green. Most of them fell upon our heads yesterday. But we were lucky enough that on the longest walk, it waited until we were back in the car before the sky opened.
Yesterday was a day for ancient history. First to the Cotswold weaving museum, with its displays of technology that was ancient by the time Henry VIII was born. Then through the gorgeous little town of Faringdon to the White Horse of Uffington.
Indo European peoples have worshipped the horse throughout the ages, and although for a long time it was assumed that this running horse, gone abstract with time, was more recent, archaeologists have now decided that this hillside carving was done a thousand years before the Romans pushed their way into the British countryside.
As you can see from the map’s contour lines, the horse is on the side of a steep hill overlooking the long, wide valley to the north (The Vale of the White Horse, conveniently enough.) At its back is the oldest highway in Britain, the Ridge Way. To one side is an iron-age (ie, Romano-British) fortress, now a broad circle with deep earthworks around it. A mile away is the Neolithic barrow tomb called Wayland’s Smithy—Wayland is a Norse god and blacksmith, hamstrung by the king and forced to spend his life fashioning goods on his forge. Since he is also a trickster figure, as you might expect he gets his revenge. This Ridgeway tomb predates the Saxons, but it was long believed that by leaving a coin and an unshod horse there, the horse would be shod come morning—and the link of blacksmithing transferred the attribution to Wayland.
Interestingly enough, in The Green Man (which no, still does not have a name) there is a scene at a former blacksmithy-turned-garage, the modern day equivalent. However, I do not know, if you left your flat tire (or, tyre) at Wayland’s Smithy along with a credit card, that you would find the repairs done by morning.
Considering the rain, it wasn’t an experiment I cared to try yesterday.