Equipment for horses and riders - medieval edition

Horse equipment from the middle ages does not differ as much as you might think from modern equipment. At Lödöse museum there are bits, spurs and horseshoes from the 13th and 14th centuries and even though they are over 700 years old, a horseman of our age can immediately see how they would be used!

Horses were small and sturdy in the Middle Ages. Their height from withers to front hoof was about 130-135 centimetres and they resembled an Iceland pony or a Norwegian fjord horse. Horses were used mostly for riding and carrying packs, but also as draft animals to tow wagons and ploughs.

Sweden exported large quantities of horses in the Middle Ages. To bring new horses into the country they were imported; primarily from Spain, France, Flanders and northern Germany. They were called Friesian and were considered to be the best riding horses due to their size and robustness.

Military riding equipment

Weapons and military equipment were a relatively small part of the finds in Lödöse, although many of the objects associated with horses are likely to have had a military function. Excavations in Lödöse have produced spurs, bits and horseshoes, among other things.

In the picture we can see a piece of a bit from the 13th or 14th century in the top left. It is 13 centimetres long and was found during the excavations in Lödöse 1916-1920. Under the bit, in the same picture, we can see a brick with the imprint of a hoof. Judging by the size it was a small horse. Possibly a foal?

Spurs from the Middle Ages

Next to the brick we can see a "rowel spur" (length 19.5 centimetres) from Lödöse from the 13th-14th century. In the same cabinet in the museum there is also a spur with a large rowel and long spikes.

Above the spur we can see horseshoes from Lödöse (length 10.2 and 9.3 centimetres), found during the excavations in 1916-1920. They are probably from the early Middle Ages.

Updated: 2017-02-09 12:26