Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/181

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173
English Folk-Drama.

horns and handled them — as I hope to do early in the coming summer — I will report further on the matter. Not that I doubt they are reindeer horns — not for a moment would I doubt the deliberate opinion of Dr. Cox on such a point — but they may possibly be fossilised ; in which case one's imagination would run riot over the time when the reindeer was a denizen of this land ; or, turning to the alternative of their importation from Norseland, the fossilization would be fraught with possibilities of discovery as to why fossilised horns should be brought over. Again, one thinks of the reindeer tribes of France and the discoveries made by M. Lartet and Christy in the caverns of Perigord ; and the idea of relics of the Stone Age reaching this country from the south, without the least regard for one's predilection for northern origins, is quite distracting. Mr. Udale says he is "of opinion they came over at the Conquest with the Bagots — now Lord Bagot— of Blithfield, near Abbots Bromley. In his park are some goats, huge things, the descendants of a stock they brought over with them at or near the Conquest." If so, they may be relics of the reindeer tribes and the Stone Age in France? All conjecture : but conjecture is the investigator's lantern. I will read an extract from a letter which the Vicar of Abbots Bromley kindly sent me on the subject : —

"I hardly know how to begin about the Horn-Dance. I know very little about it, as I have only been here a short time ; and I am sorry to say that in the time of my predecessor and his predecessor, comprising some ninety-six years, many interesting particulars about this and other matters have been allowed to die out, and details cannot now be recovered. At present, the six pairs of horns, with a bow and arrow, and the frame of a hobby-horse, are ____ in the church tower, together with a curious old pot with a __dle, all of wood, in which the money is collected at the dance. The Horn-Dance takes place now only on the Monday after 'Wakes' Sunday, which is the Sunday next to September 4th. The tradition __at, some two hundred years ago, the dance took place on several consecutive Sundays, after morning service, in the churchyard —