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These horses had been butchered for horsemeat; but a revival of the cult of the Celtic goddess Epona, protector of horses, donkeys and mules, may account for horse carcasses buried whole at Dunstable, with "special care".

Horse remains dating from the Mesolithic period, or Middle Stone Age, early in the Holocene, have been found in Britain, though much of Mesolithic Britain now lies under the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel, and material which may include archaeological evidence for the presence of the horse in Britain continues to be washed into the sea, by rivers and coastal erosion.

During the Devensian glaciation, the northernmost part of the peninsula from which Britain was formed was covered with glacial ice, and the sea level was about 120 metres (390 ft) lower than it is today. Coles named this low-lying area "Doggerland", in which the River Thames flowed somewhat to the north of its current route, joining the Rhine to flow west to the Atlantic Ocean along the line of what is now the English Channel.

In Robin Hood Cave, also in Creswell Crags, a horse tooth was recovered dating from between 32,000 and 24,000 BC; this cave has also preserved one of the earliest examples of prehistoric artwork in Britain – an engraving of a horse, on a piece of horse bone.

Identified with the current warm period, known as "Marine Isotope Stage 1", or MIS 1, the Holocene is considered an interglacial period in the current Ice Age.

The earliest horse remains found in the area now covered by Britain and Ireland date to the Middle Pleistocene.

Two species of horse have been identified from remains at Pakefield, East Anglia, dating back to 700,000 BC.

Horse improvement as a goal, and horse breeding as an enterprise, date to medieval times; King John imported a hundred Flemish stallions, Edward III imported fifty Spanish stallions, and various priories and abbeys owned stud farms.