Medieval horse harness bling

Friday, April 19, 2019 1:57:00 PM Categories: Accessories Animals Medieval Metal Metal working

It has long been the habit of the human race to decorate and embelish certain prized possessions with what in modern parlance we might call "bling". Cars with mean looking alloys and go faster stripes are a contemporary example, but the principle mode of transport before the car, namely the horse, has been given the same treatment across the centuries. Horse brasses and plumes attached to heavy horse harness are still just within living memory for some. Many centuries ago though horse harness accoutrements were not only about decoration, they were also about showing ownership, wealth and allegience and in some instances religion and superstition to ward off the evil eye.

Our artefact this month then was found near Reepham and is a rather unusual and richly decorated Medieval gilt copper alloy composite horse harness pendant comprising an elaborate sexfoil frame within which a separate sexfoil is suspended. The divisions between the petals of the former are emphasised by projecting fillets. Cells on the petals of the inner pendant contain dark red enamel and there is a large separate decorative rivet with quatrefoil head with lozengiform central boss. The broken suspension-loop at the top has a projection at the front of the apex and one broken upper perforation and one complete lower perforation, both drilled, for suspension. This horse harness pendant would date circa AD 1200-1400.

 

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