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[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 246. From _The Scouring of the White Horse_ (Hughes, T.).]
Below the head of the White Horse, which at festival time was thoroughly scoured and restored to its pristine whiteness, is a huge scoop in the downs forming a natural amphitheatre, and at the base of this so-called "manger" are the clear traces of artificial banks or tiers. In 1825 the games were held at Seven Barrows, distant _two miles_ in a south-easterly direction from the White Horse itself. These Seven Barrows are imagined to be the burial places of seven chieftains slain at the battle of Ashdown, and adjacent mounds supposedly contain the corpses of the rank and file. But the starting-post of Lewes race-course, which is also _two miles_ in extent, is shown in the Ordnance map as being likewise situated at a group of seven tumuli, and as the winning-post at Lewes is at the base of Offham Hill the fact of starting at Seven Barrows, racing for two miles, and finishing respectively at Offham and Uffington is too conspicuous to be coincidence. Referring to the Stonehenge track Stukeley writes: "This course which is two miles long," and he adds casually, "there is an obscure barrow or two round which they returned".
At Uffington are the remains of a cromlech known as Wayland's Smithy, Wayland, here as elsewhere, being an invisible, benevolent fairy blacksmith: on Offham Hill, Lewes, stands an inn ent.i.tled the "Blacksmith's Arms," and below it Wallands Park.
The sub-district of Lewes, where the De Vere family seem to have been very prominent, contains the parishes of St. John, South_over_, and Berwick: opposite the Castle Hill is Brack Mount, also a district called The Brooks; running past All Saints Church is Brooman's Lane, and the "rape" of Lewes contains the hundreds of Barcomb and Preston. The princ.i.p.al church in Lewes is that of St. Michael, which is known curiously as St. Michaels in _Foro_, and it stands, in all probability like the Brutus Stone, in _Fore_ Street, Totnes, in what was the centre or _forum_ of the original settlement.
The name Lewes is thought to be _lowes_, which means barrows or toothills, and this derivation is no doubt correct, for within the precincts of Lewes Castle, which dominates the town, are still standing two artificial mounds nearly 800 feet apart from centre to centre.
These two barrows, known locally as the Twin Mounds of Lewes, may be connoted with the _duas tumbas_ or two tumps, elsewhere a.s.sociated with St. Michael: at their base lies Lansdowne Place, and at another Elan's Town, or Wick, _i.e._, Alnwick on the river Aln or Alone, near Berwick, we find a remarkable custom closely a.s.sociated with so-called Twinlaw or Tounlow cairns. This festival is thus described by Hope: "On St. Mark's Day the houses of the new freemen are distinguished by a holly-tree planted before each door, as the signal for their friends to a.s.semble and make merry with them. About eight o'clock the candidates for the franchise, being mounted on horseback and armed with swords, a.s.semble in the market-place, where they are joined by the chamberlain and bailiff of the Duke of Northumberland, attended by two men armed with halberds.
The young freemen arranged in order, with music playing before them and accompanied by a numerous cavalcade, march to the west-end of the town, where they deliver their swords. They then proceed under the guidance of the moorgrieves through a part of their extensive domain, till they reach the ceremonial well. The sons of the oldest freemen have the honour of taking the first leap. On the signal being given they pa.s.s through the bog, each being allowed to use the method and pace which to him shall seem best, some running, some going slow, and some attempting to jump over suspected places, but all in their turns tumbling and wallowing like porpoises at sea, to the great amus.e.m.e.nt of the populace, who usually a.s.semble in vast numbers. After this aquatic excursion, they remount their horses and proceed to perambulate the remainder of their large common, of which they are to become free by their achievement. In pa.s.sing the open part of the common the young freemen are obliged to alight at intervals, and place a stone on a cairn as a mark of their boundary, till they come near a high hill called the _Twinlaw_ or Tounlaw Cairns, when they set off at full speed, and contest the honour of arriving first on the hill, where the names of the freemen of Alnwick are called over. When arrived about _two miles_ from the town they generally arrange themselves in order, and, to prove their equestrian abilities, set off with great speed and spirit over bogs, ditches, rocks, and rugged declivities till they arrive at _Rottenrow Tower_ on the confines of the town, the foremost claiming the honour of what is termed 'winning the boundaries,' and of being ent.i.tled to the temporary triumphs of the day."
The occurrence of this horsey festival on St. _Mark's_ Day may be connoted with the fact that in Welsh and Cornish _march_, in Gaelic _marc_, meant _horse_: obviously _marc_ is allied to the modern _mare_.
There is a Rottenrow at Lewes, and Rottenrow Tower on the confines of Alnwick is suggestive of the more famous Rotten Row in London. It would seem that this site was also the bourne or goal of steeplechases similar to those at Alnwick, for upwards of a mile westward there was once a street called Michael's Grove, of which the site is now occupied by Ovington Square. This "Ovington" may be connoted not only with Offham Hill and Uffington of the White Horse, but also with Oving in Bucks, where is an earthwork also a spring known as "the Horse Spring,"
traditionally a.s.sociated with Horsa.
Ovington Square at Kensington seems also to have been designated Brompton Grove, and as _Bronde_sbury, a few miles northward, was known alternatively as _Bromesbury_, and _Bromfield_, in Shropshire, as _Brunefield_, we may safely regard the _Brom_ which appears here, and in numerous Bromptons, Bromsgroves, Bromsberrows, Bromleas, also Brimham Rocks, as being the same word as _Bron_. The Latin name for broom--_planta genista_--apart from other evidence in my notebooks is an implication that the golden broom was deemed a symbol of Genista, the Good Genus or Ja.n.u.s: and as Ja.n.u.s of January, and _planta genista_, was the _first_, the word _prime_ may be connoted with _broom_. On 1st January, _i.e._, the first day of the first month, it was customary in England to make a globe of blackthorn, a plant which is the first to come into flower: we have already connoted the thorn or spica with the Prime Cause, and with the prime letter of the alphabet A, or Aleph, whence in all probability _bramble_ may be equated also with _broom_ and _prime_.
Mitton, in _Kensington_, observes that before being Brompton Grove this part of the district had been known as Flounders Field, but why tradition does not say. Flounders Field is on the verge of, if not within, the district known as Kensington Gore, and those topographers who have a.s.signed _gore_ to the old English term meaning _mud_ are probably correct. From Kensington Gore, or Flounders Field, we may a.s.sume that the freemen of Kensington once wallowed their way as at Alnwick to Rottenrow, and the plight of these sportsmen must have been the more pitiable inasmuch as, at any rate at Alnwick, the freemen were by custom compelled to wear white robes. In this connection it may be noted that at the triennial road-surveying ceremony known in Guernsey as the _Chevauchee_ or Cavalcade of St. Michael (last held in 1837), a white wand was carried and the regimental band of the local militia was robed in long white smocks. "This very unmilitary costume," says a writer in _Folklore_, "must, I think, have been traditionally a.s.sociated with the Chevauchee as it is quite unlike all the uniforms of that date worn by our local militia; it may have been a survival of some ancient, perhaps rustic, possibly priestly band of minstrels and musicians."
Whether our Whit or White Monday parade of carthorses has any claim to antiquity I am unaware, but it is noteworthy that the Scouring of the Uffington White Horse was celebrated on Whit Monday with great joyous festivity. The Cavalcade of St. Michael, in which all the n.o.bility and gentry took part, was ordained to be held on the Monday of Mid May and was evidently a most imposing ritual. It seems to have culminated at the Perron du Roy (ill.u.s.trated on p. 315), which was once the boundary stone of the Royal Fief: at this spot stood once an upright stone known as _La Rogue des Fees_, and a repast to the revellers was here served in a circular gra.s.s hollow where according to tradition the fays used to dance. During the procession the lance-bearer carried a wand eleven and a quarter feet long, the number of Vava.s.seurs was eleven, and it is possible that the eleven pools in Kensington, which were subsequently merged into the present Serpentine, were originally constructed or adapted to this Elphin number in order to make a ceremonial course for the freemen floundering from Flounders Field to Rottenrow.
Kensington in days gone by was pre-eminently a district of springs and wells; the whole of south-west London was more or less a swamp or "holland," and the early Briton, whose prehistoric canoe was found some years ago at Kew, might if he had wished have wallowed the whole way from Turnham Green, _via_ Brook Green, Parson's Green, Baron's Court, Walham and Fulham to Tyburn.
If it be true that Boudicca were able to put 4000 war chariots into the field there must at that time have been numerous stud farms, and the low-lying pastures of the larger Kent, which once contained London, were ideal for the purpose. The Haymarket is said to have derived its name from the huge amount of hay required by the mews of Charing Cross; a mile or so westward is Hay Hill; old maps indicate enormous mews in the Haymarket district, and there are indications that some of the present great mews and stables of south-western London are the relics of ancient parks or compounds. According to Homer--
By Darda.n.u.s, of cloud-compelling Jove Begotten, was Dardania peopled first, Ere sacred Ilium, populous city of men, Was founded on the plain; as yet they dwelt On spring-abounding Ida's lowest spurs.
To Darda.n.u.s was Erichthonius born, Great King, the wealthiest of the sons of men; For him were pastur'd in the marshy mead, Rejoicing with their foals, three thousand mares; Them Boreas, in the pasture where they fed, Beheld, enamour'd; and amid the herd In likeness of a coal-black steed appear'd; Twelve foals, by him conceiving, they produc'd.
These, o'er the teeming corn-fields as they flew, Skimm'd o'er the standing ears, nor broke the haulm; And o'er wide Ocean's bosom as they flew, Skimm'd o'er the topmost spray of th' h.o.a.ry sea.
Boreas, whom we may connote with Bress, the Consort of Brigit, or Bride, is here represented as _wallowing_, a term which Skeat derives from the Anglo-Saxon _wealwian_, to roll round: he adds, "see voluble," but in view of the world-wide rites of immersion or baptism it is more seemly to connect _wallow_ with _hallow_. Mr. Weller, Senr., preferred to spell his name with a "V": there is no doubt that Weller and Veller were synonymous terms, and therefore that Fulham, in which is now Walham Green, was originally a home of Wal or Ful, perhaps the same as Wayland or Voland, the Blacksmith of Wayland's Smithy and of Walland Park.
It is supposed that Fulham was the swampy home of _fowlen_, or water _fowls_, but it is an equally reasonable conjecture that it was likewise a tract of marshy meads whereon the _foalen_ or foals were pastured. As already noted the Tartar version of the Pied Piper represents the Chanteur or Kentaur as a _foal_, coursing perpetually round the world.
The coins of the Gaulish Volcae exhibit a _wheel_ or _veel_ with the inscription VOL, others in conjunction with a coursing horse are inscribed VOOL, and we find the head of a remarkable maned horse on the coins of the Gaulish Felikovesi. As _felix_ means happy, one may connote the hobby horse with _happi_ness, or one's _hobby_, and it is not improbable that both Felixstowe and Folkestone were settlements of the adjacent Felikovesi, whose coins portray the Hobby's head or Foal.
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIGS. 247 to 253.--Gaulish. From Akerman.]
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIGS. 254 and 255.--Gaulish. From Barthelemy.]
At Land's End, opposite the t.i.tanic headland known as Pardenick, or Pradenic, is Cairn Voel which is also known locally as "The Diamond Horse": there is likewise a headland called The Horse, near Kynance Cove, and a stupendous cliff-saddle at Zennor, named the Horse's Back. It would thus seem that the mythology of the Voel extended to the far West, and it is not improbable that Tegid Voel, the Consort of Keridwen the Mare, _alias_ Cendwen, meant _inter alia_ the Good Foal.
Prof. Macalister has recently hooked up from the deep waters of Irish mythology a deity whose name Fal he connotes with a Teutonic Phol. This Fal, a supposedly non-Aryan, neolithic (?) "pastoral horse-divinity,"
belonging to an older stratum of belief than the divine beings among the Tuatha De Danann, Prof. Macalister a.s.sociates with the famous stone of Fal at Tara, and he remarks: "He looks like a Centaur, but is in parentage and disposition totally different from the orthodox Centaurs.
He is, in fact, just the sort of being that would develop out of an ancient hippanthropic deity who had originally no connection with Centaurs, but who found himself among a people that had evolved the conception of the normal type of those disagreeable creatures."
In Cornwall is a river Fal; a _well_ is a spring, the _whale_ or elephant of the sea was venerated because like the elephant it gushed out a fountain of water from its head. The Wilton crescent, opposite one of the ancient conduits by Rotten Row, Kensington, may well have meant _Well town_, for the whole of this district was notoriously a place of wells: not only do we find Wilton Crescent, but in the immediate neighbourhood of Ovington Square and Flounders Field is _Walton_ Street and Hooper's Court. Sennen Cove at Land's End was a.s.sociated with a mysterious sea-spirit known as the Hooper, and we shall meet again with Hooper, or Jupiter, the Hidden one in "Hooper's Hide," an alternative t.i.tle for the game of Blind Man's Buff.
The authorities derive _avon_, or _aune_, the Celtic for a gently flowing river, from _ap_, the Sanscrit for water, but it is more likely that there is a closer connection with Eve, or Eva--Welsh Efa--whose name is the Hebrew for life or enlivening, whence Avon would resolve most aptly into the _enlivening one_. Not only are rivers actually the enlivening ones, but the ancients philosophically a.s.signed the origin of all life to water or ooze. According to Persian, or Parthian philosophy--and Parthia may be connoted in pa.s.sing with Porthia, an old name for the Cornish St. Ives, for St. Ive was said to be a Persian bishop--the Prime appointed six pure and beneficent Archangels to supervise respectively Fire, Metals, Agriculture, Verdure, the Brutes, and Water. With respect to the last the injunction given was: "I confide to thee, O Zoroaster! the water that flows; that which is stagnant; the water of rivers; that which comes from afar and from the mountains; the water from rain and from springs. Instruct men that it is water which gives strength to all living things. It makes all verdant. Let it not be polluted with anything dead or impure, that your victuals, boiled in pure water, may be healthy. Execute thus the words of G.o.d."
Etymology points to the probability that water in every form, even the stagnant _fen_--the same word as _Aven_, _font_, and _fount_--was once similarly sacred in Britain, whence it may follow that even although Fulham and Walham were foul, vile, evil, and filthy, the root _fal_ still meant originally the _enlivening all_.
The word _pollute_ (to be connoted with _pool_, Phol, or Fal) is traced by Skeat to _polluere_, which means not necessarily foul, but merely to _flow over_. The _willow_ tree (Welsh _helygen_), which grows essentially by the water-side, may be connoted with _wallow_.
Of Candian or Cretan G.o.d-names only two are tentatively known, to wit--Velchanos and Apheia: Apheia may be connoted with Hephaestus, the Greek t.i.tle of Vulcan or Vulca.n.u.s, and the connection between Hephaestus and Velchanos is clearly indicated by the inscribed figure of Velchanos which appears upon the coins of the Candian town of Phaestus. That the _falcon_ was an emblem of the Volcae is obvious from the bird on Fig.
248, and the older forms of the English place-name Folkestone, _i.e._, Folcanstan, Folcstane, Fulchestan supposed to mean "stone of a man Folca," more probably imply a _Folk Stone_, or Falcon Stone, or Vulcan Stone. The Saxon gentleman named Folca is in all probability pure imagination.
The more British t.i.tle of Wayland or Voland, the Vulcan or Blacksmith of Uffington, and doubtless also of the Blacksmith of Walland's Park, Offham, is Govannon. One may trace Govan, the British Hammersmith, from St. Govans at Fairfield near Glasgow, or from St. Govan's Head in South Wales, to St. Govan's Well, opposite De Vere Gardens in Kensington. In Welsh _govan_ was a generic term for _smith_; one of the triune aspects of St. Bride was that of a metal worker, and it is reasonable to equate the Lady G.o.diva of _Coven_try, with Coventina or Coven of the Tyne, whose images from Coventina's Well in Northumberland are here reproduced. As will be seen she figures as Una or the One holding an olive branch, and as Three holding a phial or vial, a fire, and a what-not too obscure for specification. "The founding of the Temple of Coventina," says Clayton, "must be ascribed to the Roman officers of the Batavian Cohort, who had left a country where the sun shines every day and where in pagan times springs and running waters were objects of adoration." But is there really no other possible alternative? Mr.
Hope describes the G.o.ddess represented in Fig. 256 as floating on the leaf of a water-lily; the legend of the patron saint of St. Ives in Cornwall is to the effect that this maiden came floating over the waves upon a leaf, and it thus seems likely that Coventry, the home of Lady G.o.diva, derived its name from being the _tre_, _tree_, or _trou_ of Coven, or St. Govan.
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 256.--From _The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England_ (Hope, R. C.).]
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 257.--From _The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England_ (Hope, R. C.).]
In his account of a great and triumphant jousting held in London on May Day, 1540, on which occasion all the horses were trapped in _white_ velvet, Stow several times alludes to an Ivy Bridge by St. Martin's in the Fields, and this Ivy Bridge must have been closely adjacent to what is now Coventry Street and Cranbrook Street. _Crene_ is Greek for _brook_, the Hippocrene or the _horse brook_ was the fountain struck by the hoof of the divine Pegasus: _Cran_brook Street is a continuation of Coventry Street, and I rather suspect that the neighbouring Covent Garden is not, as popularly supposed, a corruption of Convent Garden, but was from time immemorial a grove or garden of Good Coven. The Maiden Lane here situated probably derived its t.i.tle from a sign or tablet of the Maiden similar to the Coventina pictures, and it is not improbable that Coven or Goodiva once reigned from Covent Garden _via_ Coventry Street to St. Govan's Well in Kensington. Near Ripon is an earthwork _abri_ known seemingly as Givendale, and on Hambleton Hill in this neighbourhood used to be a White Horse carved on the down side. The primal Coventrys were not improbably a tribal oak or other sacred _tree_, such as the Braintree in Ess.e.x near Bradwell, and the Pick_tree_ previously noted.
At Coveney, in Cambridgeshire--query, _Coven ea_ or Coven's island?--bronze bucklers have been found which in design "bear a close resemblance to the ribbon pattern seen on several Mycenaean works of art, and the inference is that even as far north as Britain, the Mycenaean civilisation found its way, the intermediaries being possibly Phoenician traders". But the Phoenicians having now been evicted from the court it is manifestly needful to find some other explanation.
Coveney is not many miles from St. Ives, Huntingdon, named supposedly after Ivo, a Persian bishop, who wandered through Europe in the seventh century. Possibly this same episcopal Persian founded Effingham near Bookham and Boxhill, for at the foot of the Buckland Hills is Givon's Grove, once forming part of a Manor named Pachevesham. On the downs above is Epsom, which certainly for some centuries has been _Ep's home_, and the Pacheve of Pachevesham was possibly the same _Big Hipha_: there is second Evesham in the same neighbourhood. Speaking of the British inscription EPPILOS, Sir John Rhys observes that it is very probably a derivation from _epo_, a horse; and of the town of _Ep_eiacon, now _Eb_chester, the same authority states: "The name seems to signify a place for horses or cavalry". Near Pachevesham, below Epsom, is an old inn named "The Running Mare".
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 258.--British. From _A New Description of England and Wales_ (Anon, 1724).]
In connection with Givon, or Govan, or Coven, it is interesting to note that the word used by Tacitus to denote a British chariot is _covinus_.
Local tradition claims that the scythes of Boudiccas _coveni_ were made at Birmingham, and there may be truth in this for the _bir_ of Birmingham is the radical of _faber_, feu_ber_, or _fire father_, and likewise of _Lefebre_, the French equivalent of Smith. That Birmingham was an erstwhile home of the followers of the Fire Father, the Prime, or Forge of Life, is deducible not only from the popular "Brum" or "Brummagem," but from the various forms recorded of the name. The variant Brymecham may be modernised into Prime King; the neighbouring Bromsgrove is equivalent to Auberon's Grove; Bromieham was no doubt a home of the Brownies, and the authorities are sufficiently right in deriving from this name "Home of the sons of _Beorn_". Bragg is a common surname in Birmingham: Perkunas or _Peroon_, the Slav Pater or Jupiter, was always represented with a hammer. In Fig. 175 _ante_, p. 332, the British Fire Father, or Hammersmith, was labouring at what is a.s.sumed to be a helmet or a burnie, and Fig. 258 is evidently a variant of the same subject. In the _Red Book of Hergest_ there occurs a line--"With Math the ancient, with Gofannon," from which one might gather that Math and Gofannon were one. In any case the word _smith_ is apparently _se mith_, _se meath_, or _Se Math_, and the Smeath's Ridge at Avebury was probably named after the heavenly Smith or _Gofan_.
According to Rice Holmes the bronze image of a G.o.d with a hammer has been found in England, but where or when is not stated: it is, however, generally believed that this Celtic Hammer Smith was a representation of the Dis Pater, to whom the Celts attributed their origin.
The London place-name Hammersmith appears in Domesday Book as Hermoderwode: in Old High German _har_ or _herr_ meant _high_, whence I suggest that Hermoderwode has not undergone any unaccountable phonetic change into Hammersmith, but was then surviving German for _Her moder_ or _High Mother_ Wood. From Broadway Hammersmith to Shepherd's Bush runs "The Grove," and that originally this grove had cells of the Selli in it is somewhat implied by the name Silgrave, still applied to a side-street leading into The Grove. "Brewster Gardens," "Bradmore House," "British Grove," and Broadway all alike point similarly to Hammersmith being a pre-Saxon British settlement. Bradmore was the Manor house at Hammersmith, and the existence of lewes, leys, or barrows on this Brad moor is implied by the modern Leysfield Road. The lewes at Folkestone were in all probability situated on the commanding Leas, and as the local p.r.o.nunciation of Lewis in the Hebrides is "the Lews" there likewise were probably two or more lowes or laws whence the laws were proclaimed and administered. Bradmore is suggestive of St. Bride, the heavenly Hammersmith who was popularly a.s.sociated with a falcon, and the great Hammersmith or Vulcan may be connoted with the Golden _Falcon_, whose memory has seemingly been preserved in Hammersmith at Goldhawk Road.
When Giraldus Cambrensis visited the shrine of the glorious Brigit at Kildare he was told the tale of a marvellous lone hawk or falcon popularly known as "Brigit's Bird". This beauteous tame falcon is reported to have existed for many centuries, and customarily to have perched on the summit of the Round Tower of Kildare. Doubtless this story was the parallel of a fairy-tale current at Pharsipee in Armenia.
"There," says Maundeville, "is found a sparrow-hawk upon a fair perch, and a fair lady of fairie, who keeps it; and whoever will watch that sparrow-hawk seven days and seven nights, and, as some men say, three days and three nights, without company and without sleep, that fair lady shall give him, when he hath done, the first wish that he will wish of earthly things; and that hath been proved oftentimes."
Goldhawk Road at Hammersmith is supposedly an ancient Roman Road, and in 1884 the remains of a causeway were uncovered. Both _road_ and _route_ are the same word as the British _rhod_, and Latin _rota_ meaning a wheel, and it is likely that the term roadway meant primarily a route along which _rotae_ or wheels might travel: as _rotten_ would be the ancient plural of _rot_, Rottenrow may thus simply have meant a roadway for wheeled traffic. According to Borlase the British fighting chariot was a _rhod_, the rout of this traffic presumably caused _ruts_ upon the route, whence it is quite likely that Rotten Row was a rutty and foul thoroughfare. The ordinary supposition that this t.i.tle is a corruption of _route du roi_ may possibly have some justification, for immediately opposite is Kingston House, and at one time Rotten Row was known as the King's Road: originally the world of fashion used to canter round a circular drive or ring of trees, some of which are still carefully preserved on the high ground near the present Tea House, and thus it might reasonably follow that Rotten Row was a corrupted form of _rotunda_ row.
Opposite to Rotten Row are Rutland Gate and Rutland House, where lived the Dukes of Rutland, anciently written Roteland. Rutlandshire neighbours Leicester, a town known to the Romans under the name of Ratae; Leicestershire is watered by the river Welland, and in Stukeley's time there existed in a meadow near Ratae "two great banks called _Raw_dikes, which speculators look on as unaccountable". That Leicester or Ratae paid very high reverence to the horse may be inferred from the fact that here the annual Riding of the George was one of the princ.i.p.al solemnities of the town, and one which the inhabitants were bound legally to attend. In addition to the Rottenrows at Kensington and Lewes there is a Rottenrow in Bucks, and a Rottenrow near Reading, all of which, together with Rottenrow Tower near Alnwick, must be considered in combination.
Redon figures as a kingly name among the British chronologies, and as horses are a.s.sociated so intimately with the various Rotten Rows, the name Redon may be connoted with Ruadan, a Celtic "saint" who is said to have presented King Dermot with thirty sea-green horses which rose from the sea at his bidding. Sea horses are a conspicuous feature on the coins of the Redones who dwelt in Gaul and commanded the mouth of the Loire. The horse was certainly at home at Canterbury where Rodau's Town is in immediate proximity to what is now called Riding Gate.
There is a river Roden at Wroxeter, a river Roding in Ess.e.x; Yorkshire is divided into three divisions called Ridings, and in East Riding, in the churchyard of the village of Rudstone, there stands a celebrated monolith which is peculiar inasmuch as its depth underground was said to equal its height above. There is another Rudstone near Reading Street, Kent, and the Givon's Grove near Epsom is either in or immediately adjacent to a district known as Wrydelands. To _ride_ was once presumably to play the role of the Kentaur Queen, whether _equine_ as represented in the Coventry Festival or as riding in a triumphal _biga_, _rhod_, _wain_ or _wagon_. That such riding was once a special privilege is obvious from the statement of Tacitus: "She claimed a right to be conveyed in her carriage to the Capitol; a right by ancient usage allowed only to the sacerdotal order, the vestal virgins, and the statues of the G.o.ds".
That the Lady of Coventry was the Coun or Queen is possibly implied by the _Coun_don within the borough of modern Coventry which also embraces a Foleshill, and Radford.
The coins of the Gaulish Rotomagi, whose headquarters were the Rouen district, depict the horse not merely cantering but galloping apace, whence obviously the Rotomagi were an equine or Ecuina people. With their coins inscribed Ratumacos may be compared the coinage of the Batavian Magusae which depicts "a sea horse to the right," and is inscribed MAGUS. Magus, as we have seen, was a t.i.tle of the Wandering Geho, Jehu, or Jew, and he may here be connoted with the "Splendid Mane" which figures under the name Magu, particularly in Slav fairy-tale:--
Magu, Horse with Golden Mane, I want your help yet once again, Walk not the earth but fly through s.p.a.ce As lightnings flash and thunders roll, Swift as the arrow from the bow Come quick, yet so that none may know.
[Ill.u.s.tration: FIGS. 259 and 260.--Gaulish. From Akerman.]
The French _roue_ meaning a wheel, and _rue_, a roadway, are probably not decayed forms of the Latin _rota_ but _ruder_, more _rudimentary_, and more _radical_: like the Candian Rhea, the Egyptian Ra or Re, and our _ray_, they are probably the Irish _rhi_, the Spanish _rey_, and the French _roi_.