Sunday 13 August 2023


 Last week, I hiked into the Red Horse Vale in Warwickshire from the village of Tysoe. The small village was once part of the old English kingdom of Mercia and was originally named Tiw Hill after the war god Tiw. The Red Horse Vale got its name because there used to be a galloping horse carved on to the hills above the village. The original figure was carved to celebrate a battle victory by the Mercians and dedicated to Tiw. The fact that the horse a sacred animal to Tiw was cut into the hill in such a commanding site in the old Mercian Kingdom is a testimony to the importance Tiw held to the English.

The horse was 285ft long and 95ft wide and was re cut every year for over a thousand years until, 17th century when a pub land lord had it ploughed over. He received so much hostility for his actions that three years later he paid for a new horse to be carved on a nearby hill. This new horse was covered over in 1910 and the site of the original horse was planted with trees in 1960. 

Tiw, was connected to the `thing' the Germanic law assembly, so he was a god of war and law; who used war to create cohesion and peace. Our knowledge of our ancestors heathen beliefs are vague but I have no doubt Tiw's Red Horse, carved on the hill must have had a huge effect on the people who saw it. This legend inspired Tolkien, when he weaved  `Lord Of The Ring's.'

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