The Horse: England's Sacred Beast?

The English aversion to eating horse flesh, recently highlighted in a number of food scandals, dates back to the coming of Christianity, as Jordan Claridge explains.

The Uffington Horse, Oxfordshire, dates from the Bronze Age. Corbis/SkyscanThe recent controversy in Britain over traces of horse meat found in a variety of processed food products has raised questions as to why the British generally do not eat horse meat. This is in contrast to a number of places in present-day Europe, where horse meat is still eaten regularly (in France boucheries chevalines specialise in it). Where do such attitudes stem from and when, exactly, did British practice diverge from other places in Europe? Documentary and archaeological evidence clearly illustrates that English attitudes concerning the human consumption of horse meat have their roots firmly planted in the medieval world. Even in the Middle Ages English people had a strong aversion to horse meat and avoided eating it in all but the most dire of circumstances.

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