Length: 10.000 cm
Prehistory and Europe
Toggles from the Polden Hill hoard
Iron Age or Roman, AD 1-100
From Polden Hill, Somerset, England
Jewellery for a horse?
These toggles are made from bronze and were originally decorated with red glass. They were found with many other decorated bronze horse harness fittings buried together at Polden Hill. This is probably a ritual offering of Iron Age objects, but was made at least thirty years after the Romans had conquered this part of England. This is known because bronze brooches found in the hoard were types only made after the Roman Conquest.
All the toggles were cast in clay moulds using the lost wax technique. Carved wooden blanks were used to prepare the identical wax patterns that were used in the casting process. A leather strap went through the middle of each toggle, but we do not know exactly what the toggles were used for. Were they just for decorating the straps of a horse harness - a horse's jewellery? Or did they help hold the leather straps of the horse's harness together? The importance of horsemanship is demonstrated by the surviving metal harness, which is larger and more decorative than most personal ornaments.
S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)