Horse harness from the Stanwick hoard

Iron Age, AD 40-80
Stanwick, Melsonby, North Yorkshire, England

Parts of Brigantian chariot or wagon

These objects were found in a large hoard of metal artefacts. The hoard was buried for religious reasons near the important royal centre at Stanwick, capital of the tribe called the Brigantes. It contained 140 different objects and was buried in the period when the Romans had conquered southern Britain, but northern England was still independent. Most are parts from horse harnesses and carts or wagons. But other parts, like a bronze model of a horse's head, might come from a bucket. In the Iron Age, large groups of metal objects were often deliberately buried. Because these objects are usually of particular types, and because of how and where they were buried, archaeologists now think such burials were part of acts of religious worship.

The hoard was accidentally found in 1845, but no one knew exactly where the objects were found. Archaeologists have recently discovered and excavated the place were the hoard was buried. Many other hoards containing fine decorated metal parts of horse harnesses were buried at this time in the Late Iron Age, including those found at Polden Hill and Westhall. Only a few of the horse harness pieces found at Stanwick are shown here. They include part of a single-link bridle-bit, two different central terrets, a strap union and a button and loop fastener.

Recent scientific research has shown that many pieces are made from brass rather than bronze. Brass was not used to make objects in Britain until the Romans invaded the south of England in AD 43.

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More information

Bibliography

R.L. Fitts, C. Haselgrove, P. Lowther and S. Willis, 'Melsonby revisited: survey and excavation 1992-95 at the site of discovery of the 'Stanwick' North Yorkshire hoard of 1843', Durham Archaeological Journal, 14-15 (1999), pp. 1-52

MacGregor, 'The Early Iron Age metalwork from Stanwick, N.R. Yorks.', Proceedings of the Prehistor-4, 28 (1962)

I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)

Dimensions

Length: 14.400 cm (single-link bridle-bit; max.)
Height: 6.000 cm (winged central terret)
Width: 7.500 cm (winged central terret)
Height: 6.000 cm (winged central terret)
Width: 7.500 cm (winged central terret)
Length: 14.400 cm (single-link bridle-bit; max.)
Width: 7.500 cm (winged central terret)
Length: 14.400 cm (single-link bridle-bit; max.)

Museum number

P&EE 1847.2-8.26, 36, 41, 55, 72

BCB52465;BCB52476;BCB6368;BCB52482;BCB52517

Gift of the Duke of Northumberland

Location

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