Gift of Hogg the Builders of York
Prehistory and Europe
Horse bits from the chariot burial at Wetwang
Iron Age, around 300 BC
East Yorkshire, England
When buried, the horse bits were probably still attached to the reins, wrapped around the wooden yoke. As a result, when excavated, the bits were found lying on top of the yoke. As the wood rotted, one of them fell into the space left behind.
The bits are made of iron and bronze. The central part is formed of cast bronze, and bronze sheet has been hammered over iron rings on either side. The bits are delicately made; even the part in the horses' mouths was decorated. In cleaning the bosses on the outer ring of each bit, the conservator discovered red glass 'enamel' inlay in a four part design. The design has only been seen on one other Iron Age object in Britain, the Battersea Shield. As this shield was found in the River Thames, there has always been a problem establishing its exact date; the new evidence from the grave at Wetwang might help.
To find out more and see a reconstruction of the chariot, take the 'Wetwang Chariot Burial' tour.