Rhiannon Rides Again Continued...  Again she came slowly, slowly along the track and now the prince drove his  fastest horse toward her. But the beautiful lady passed by slowly, slowly along  the track and remained beyond him. At last the prince, realising that this task  was beyond earthly means, called out to her. “Oh! Lady,lady won’t you wait.”  “It is well that you spoke Pwyll” she said “you should have spoken sooner”.  Then the Lady Rhiannon came to converse with Pwyll and made an arrangement  to return again in a year’s time when they could be betrothed.    It’s notoriously difficult to see the chalk figure of a horse or “dragon” from down  in the valley anywhere close to the slope of the ridge of grass covered chalk at  Uffington Castle. It is positioned on the curve of the hilltop and is most easily  visible from the Northwest. As I’ve had many years of experience looking at  “landscape calendar” sites it was immediately evident that a sightline to the  midwinter sunrise was possible over the White Horse. A bit of checking with the  map and on the ground produced a very interesting alignment up the valley called  the “Manger” and over a spur of land with a flat area just north of the B4507  above the village of Woolstone. Furthermore a visit to the pub in Woolstone  which is serendipitiously called “The Rising Sun” revealed, around the pub and  in the footings of some of the older buildings in the village, an abundance of  “Sarsen Stones”. These special stones, beloved of the builders of Stonehenge and  Avebury, seem to have been taken from somewhere local. Could they have been  rolled or sledded down the 100yds or so from a setting in the field above? That’s  an attractive speculation but not an easy thing to prove.  Something else that needs consideration is the connection between Rhiannon, the  beautiful lady, and midwinter sunrise. Firstly we have to remember that for the  Celtic people who preserved this story the Sun was female. This is still the case  in Germanic languages, Die Sonne, Der Mund and in many other early cultures  as well. Secondly it’s easiest to understand the repetition of a “beautiful lady”  repeatedly riding slowly, slowly along a “track” which no-one can catch up with  her on, as a heavenly body passing across the sky.  So, just as prince Pwll set out with his court for a ceremonial feast no doubt on a  special day of the year, I set out with my partner on the winter solstice to stand at  the foot of the “mound” at Uffington. It was fortunately a sparkling clear day  with not a cloud in the sky. I arrived early because I hadn’t worked out the time  of sunrise and spent a very chilly couple of hours waiting to see what would  appear. Eventually, at about 9.45am, the first gleam of direct sunlight appeared as  a sparkle right over the tail of the horse, which is pointing in the same direction  as the sun’s travel, and climbed in less than five minutes into the sky over its  head. That was a wow moment if ever there was one. We had been brought by  some coincidences and associations of ideas to a place where seasonal ceremonial  observances were still available after lying dormant for maybe 3,000 years.  Though one does wonder what beliefs and convictions have lead the people of  this place to keep the horse scoured and cleaned for all this time too.  © Jon Appleton 2010 under construction Jon Appleton This site brings together a kaleidoscope of ideas derived from 60 years of enquiry: it shares insights into fields as disparate as:- Archaeology, Landscape alignments, Megaliths, Henges, Prehistoric measurement, Astronomy, Mythology, Calendars of the past and Seasonal celebration. Click here to contact Jon Winter Solstice greetings card