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.

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  1. Chris on September 3, 2009 at 2:20 am

    I recall climbing to the top of this White Horse 20 years ago… Bet I’d be slower now, but glad to see you enjoying your vacation time!

    I see that The Green Man (as is) is – wait for it – available for pre-order, and to heck with the new title! Meanwhile, I still await dispatch of the UK Language of Bees… (anxiously checks diary for 9th September, LOL)

  2. La Donna on September 3, 2009 at 4:44 am

    The White Horse and Wayland’s Smithy figure into Charles Todd’s latest Ian Rutledge book — A Pale Horse. What I want to know is why *they* could have The Pale Horse and *you* can’t have The Green Man?? (Hrrumph)

  3. Laidee Marjorie on September 3, 2009 at 7:57 am

    And speaking of “The Green Man”, I think that you should keep it as the title (yes, after all this aggita and effort) but include a subtitle to it (as you did for BEEK) like “The Green Man or The Continuing Tale of the Youngest Grandmother on the Downs” of “The Green Man or Aggravation in the Lake District” or something like that. Only better! Perhaps that would solve the problem!


  4. Sara on September 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    *sharp intake of breath*


    While my weaving studio class was in an oven of a room, I’m sure it was an improvement to the places they wove in back in Henry’s age….

    I never appreciated fabric as much as I did in those hours (and hours and HOURS) of threading heddles.

  5. Chris on September 5, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I like Marjorie’s idea!


  6. Kerry on September 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    On my last trip to Great Britain, I was finally able to see the Kilburn White Horse from the train to Edinburgh. It’s very recent – built (carved?) in the mid-1800’s — but it was so cool to see an equine monument bearing my family name!

    Your trip sounds heavenly, even if some of its blessings are more aqueous than might be desired . . .

  7. Laidee Marjorie on September 6, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Chris, thank you! I think that if the publishers think that “The Green Man” isn’t sexy or mysterious enough, then the addition of an “Or” title could do that for them. But I only read books, I don’t make them. So perhaps they do know best. Or do they????


  8. Chris on September 6, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Well, I’ve always thought that us ‘readers’ could maybe offer our services to publishers as consultants – hmm, is my tongue to firmly in cheek? Anyway – thanks to my out-of-town Borders, and a one-hour round-trip bus trip, I have a UK Lang in my hands tonight.:) and the cover does look better than I’d anticipated. A little! At least I have it for the event this week in Newcastle… Chris.

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