THESE days the land is popular among walkers and pet owners.

However for centuries Oswestry's Racecourse Common was the venue for the Sport of Kings.

For 70 years this spot was a working, racetrack patronised by local lords and gentlemen, who had enjoyed sitting on the hillside known as the Horns of the Buck just east of Offa's Dyke and the Welsh border 1,000 feat above sea level.

Sitting on a hillside known as Cyrn y Bwch - the Horns of the Buck, Oswestry Racecourse sits on a plateau running north to south just to the east of Offa's Dyke and the Welsh border, some 1,000 feet above sea level.

Racing began at some point in the early 1700s and the annual race meetings were a big event, usually lasting three days with the entire town grinding to a halt.

Horses were raced around a two mile-long figure of eight-shaped track that straddled the road from Oswestry to Llansilin, which forms the modern day B4580 road.

The festivities were never confined to the common and the races were the signal for drinking and merry-making in the town.

The racecourse in Oswestry. Picture by Tim Heaton/Wiki.

The racecourse in Oswestry. Picture by Tim Heaton/Wiki.

Local horse racing enthusiast Jack Mytton of Bicton Heath had been a supporter of racing in Oswestry, once owning a stable of 40 horses and naming his son after one of his favourites.

The course was relaid with new turf by French prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars - and it was decided to build a grandstand close to the finish line.

This building provided some cover and a vantage point for those with the money to pay for a seat, and was used by traders selling food and drink to the racegoers.

Old Racecourse and the Janus Horse. Picture by Tim Heaton/Geograph.

Old Racecourse and the 'Janus Horse. Picture by Tim Heaton/Geograph.

However gambling and crime soon became rife at the racecourse which led to people starting to avoid the venue altogether which would lead to the inevitable end for Oswestry Racecourse.

The arrival of rail to Shropshire also meant horse owners could transport their animals further afield for races.

The last meeting took place in 1848 - the same year that the Shrewsbury to Chester railway line opened - and the course was abandoned.

Today the Racecourse Common is a recreation area full of bluebells and attracts a wide variety of birds.