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View Diary: Ancient England: Wayland's Smithy (43 comments)

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  •  What do you think, or know (9+ / 0-)

    Is the reason for this Uffington Horse? And how do you think these primitive people proposed this horse. Did they draw it then did the calculations for how big it should be? Do you think they ever knew how the whole horse looked after it was completed?

    I've always been curious about these figures scribed in the chalk hills and how the people handle proportions and the end product.

    •  and, how could they (6+ / 0-)

      anticipate the view from above?

      very interesting.

    •  it is conjectured to have something to do with (9+ / 0-)

      the cult of Epona, a goddess figure from the Danube and then west across Europe and who was a patron of horses, donkeys, of foaling, etc.  She led people into the afterlife on a horse.  Epona is said to be the only celtic goddess figure who achieved any prominence in Rome itself.  She was a very big deal for a long time around a century before, to around 3 centuries after, the birth of Christ, whose quasi-divine mother also rode a donkey on her way to give him birth. Just saying.  Demeter, the greek goddess (Deus mater, some say) also rode a great mare and was like Epnoa, called the 'Great Mare'.

      Epona means 'great mare' in some version of early Celtic.

      Epona is paralled by another semi-divine figure, Rhiannon, who shows up in the Mabinogia.  She rides a white horse.

      "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine Lady upon a White Horse' which existed in some version well before the 1200s and was very popular in the 1100s, 1200s, may refer to Epona.

      There are loads of coins from around ancient Europe with horses on them that look quite similar to the Uffington White horse.  This page if you sc roll down, shows a few of them:

      Mind you well : I am merely drawing paralles, not stating true historical connections.  If you notice the date of the origins of the chalk horse does not jibe at all with the dates of Epona's popularity, though Epona as an archetype existed well before Epona herself.  There's an Epona -like figure in ancient Syria.

      The whole area surrounding the white horse is filled with anceint sites, including a stretch of the Ridgeway.  The Uffington Castle is a early iron age fort, on top of a bronze age one.  And adjacent to white horse hill is Dragons' Hill, where a dragon was slayed, some say by Michael the Arcangel himself, then later, St. George.

      Je travaille, tu travailles, il travaille, nous travaillons, ils profitent.

      by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 12:46:09 PM PDT

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      •  Impossible for me to quite imagine (3+ / 0-)

        living in a land so long inhabited by the same culture, with monuments, artifacts and ruins so deeply factored into the very earth.

        "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

        by Bob Love on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:38:03 PM PDT

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        •  mmm, yes. it's a very rich experience (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, belinda ridgewood, Bob Love

           it is just one culture but it's  made of so many different layers.  layers of ancient briton, followed by celtic, and roman, and saxon, scandinavian, norman ... all interwoven.  you can see it in the culture, in the landscape which to me has a very archetypal quality, and even in people's faces, which can be so different from ours, imo.  but you're right, it all seems to seep up from the ground, be embedded deep into the ground.  all this history is also archetypes, and the very landscape seems at times to swirl with it.  wayland smithy was his saxon name, but he was voland to the germanic tribes, which is to say he was vulcan to the romans.  

          i lived there for awhile and i used to stand at my kitchen sink and look at the brickwork, stonework of the house across the street.  there was a medieval foundation, a tudor repair, a victorian addition, and vinyl window sashes!
          the nearby market place was cobbled in the 1300's and ran with the blood of the 100s who were axed there for their part in the sedgemoor rebellion.  around the corner was an ancient series of springs, sacred to the celts, claimed by ina, king of wessex as his own, enclosed on cathedral property in the 1200s and now a picnic spot with a lovely herbaceous border!  the hazards at the nearby golf course were neolithic burial mounds!

          i became very interested in baptismal fonts when i was there.  but there is such a wealth of material history there, that i got very picky/choosey about which churches i would go into.  'oh you wouldn't be interested in that one', a friend knowing this elitism of mine would say, 'the font isn't even pre-norman conquest!'

          Je travaille, tu travailles, il travaille, nous travaillons, ils profitent.

          by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 10:24:29 PM PDT

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    •  Hardly primitive (7+ / 0-)

      By the time the Uffington horse was drawn in the middle/late Bronze Age, Britain was already a major trading country with the rest of Europe and beyond. The principle components of bronze are copper and tin. England (and specifically Cornwall) was the principal supplier of tin - and remained an important world source up to a couple of hundred years ago.

      The chalk figures were probably either markers for the boundaries between tribal groups or even "billboards" to show trading places - in rather the same manner the so-called "hill forts" were displays of place and power.

      Fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 01:03:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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