On the Oswestry’s Racecourse Common, there is a distinctive sculpture designed for tactile interaction with visitors.

I refer to the Janus Horse statue.

The near-identical stylised horse heads have no bodies and they are conjoined by a single saddle. One can imagine a rider going nowhere, or both ways simultaneously. Alternatively, one can sit in its saddle and choose a direction to ‘ride’ in. The scuplture provides options for child’s play, interactive reflections, and even imaginary races and journeys on these stony steeds.

I think this sculpture attempts to materialise borderland identities, not simply the equestrian heritage of the Racecourse Common, which was the focus of races, balls and festivities up until the 1840s, but the wider landscape, caught between identities and nationalities, between poles. I’m not saying this is an appropriate way to think of oneself if a resident of NW Shropshire, but the sculpture prompts such musings on the liminal and ‘fuzzy’ – ‘third space’ – characteristics of borderlands.

The inscriptions enhance this sense of betwixt and between projected by this equine sculpture. The horse-head facing west is denoted with the inscription beneath of ‘Cymru’, that facing east with ‘England’ – but where are these nations, these languages, these peoples? The horses are looking towards these destinations, but it seems itself to be in a third space, neither one nor the other!

On its south side, the plinth is inscribed with the year of its sculpting or placement: 1995. To the north, its name: ‘Janus Horse’, emphasising its own artistic identity in place but also in time.

Janus Horse therefore evokes not only the historic significance of the hill as the Racecourse Common: attracting audiences and racers from both sides of the border. The sculpture also seems to argue that journeys and races conjoin borderland communities: this is a meeting place, not a dividing place. In a zone of Shropshire that is as much a part of Wales as it is England, the Janus Horse celebrates the distinctiveness of borderland peoples in opposition to nationalist discourses. The horses look to nations, but sits firm in place. In perpetual tension between each other place, being of both, or in both, is an idea the sculpture plants in the locality.

And this is where the precise positioning of the sculpture is significant too. Janus Horse is not upon the Mercian frontier work close by: Offa’s Dyke. This skirts lower contours of the hill to the west. Equally, it doesn’t ride atop the modern Welsh/English border runs 1.55km to the west at Rhydycroesau. It is instead upon the common close to the ruins of the grandstand, but also at a point where walkers head south towards Trefonen.

Thus, the sculpture lies on the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail. As art, it walks the line between nations just as walkers on the Offa’s Dyke Path wend their way between England and Wales many times over between Sedbury and Prestatyn. Indeed, art like this doesn’t serve to emphasise divisions, but the connections that bind and perpetuate societies through borders, forged by shared similarities as opposed to asserted differences.

In that regard, Janus Horse has more cultural and social significance than the actual territorial line of the modern border.