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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in Roman Britain

Hipposandal

Length: 22.500 cm

P&EE 1871 7-14 22

Hipposandal

From: Sun Street, Bishopsgate, London
Date: 1st-2nd century AD

'Hippos' is the Greek word for horse, so this is a kind of horseshoe. Horses provided the main form of transport in Roman Britain.

The Romans built an impressive network of roads with surfaces made from stone, gravel or even metal pieces. As the roads were so hard, horses, ponies and mules had to wear shoes to protect their feet when carrying goods and people.

Rather than nailing a horseshoe to a horse's hoof, the Romans fitted horses with these iron 'sandals', which were only worn during journeys. Can you work out how it might have fitted onto the hoof? The underside of the hipposandal often had a 'tread' to increase the animal's grip on the road.