The Uffington white horse marks an area of open grassland that has been subject to common rights of pasture for over 3,000 years. Image: Dave Price (Flickr, used under a CC )
A chance for a good meal
These meetings were much more than the chance for a good meal. Feasts reinforced links and relationships within and between communities: such occasions provided at very least a context for resolving disputes about livestock and grazing, at times when animals were taken to the pastures in the spring or rounded up in the autumn and disagreements were most likely to occur. Post-medieval folklore suggests that these meetings may have been accompanied by games and competitions, the making of marriages and other formal agreements between groups, and opportunities to catch up between members of extended families.