BAJR Federation Archaeology

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Quote:Let's say you stumbled across the remains of a battlefield, which was strewn with the bones of men and horses, and there were lots of horseshoes.

What would be the earliest period this could be from?

I know the history of the horseshoe, but can't seem to find any info on how common they were on warhorses at various times. Any thoughts?

For purposes of this question... the area is UK / Western Europe.

This in from a friend... any ideas?

plus references would be good :face-approve:

I love Wikipedia. If there's a photo available of someone in a third-world country sitting down making something then that's the photo they use!
Have dug a short-lived Norman castle where the bailey area was littered with fiddle-key nails (implying lots of shod horses) but precious few horseshoes/fragments, suspect they're big enough to get rescued and re-cycled? Have also done 2 pipeline jobs across the Neville's Cross battlefield (English trashing the Scots again, sorry....) and recovered no recognisably contemporary ironwork, no arrowheads, nothing, so suspect that contemporary re-cycling was pretty good, a handy top-up to the average peasant's income? Hence you may need to find a battlefield in a suitably non-acidic bog somewhere, or maybe a nice sandy desert where stuff gets buried immediately. Do the battlefield end of the metal-detecting contingent ever pick that sort of stuff up or do they usually have their machines in discriminating mode?
In early periods, the use of horse shoes (or the hippo boot thingies) is influenced by the type of going and how it affected the horses' ability to move on the surface.

If horseshoes were collected from the battle field for recycling I would expect to see a lot of footless (dare I say "legless" bearing in mind the time of year...) horse skeletons as that is the quickest way to get them off a dead horse. (Cavalry horses of the 18/19th century also had their number branded on their hooves so one had to be chopped off to prove it was dead and not sold...hence the chappie with the axe you see riding in a black tunic on the Trooping of the Colour...but I digress)

If the battle field is plundered by metal detectorists you can almost guarantee all the shoes will go for scrap metal a bit like their ancient counter parts.

But realistically you're looking at anything from 1400 to modern for a good covering of horse shoes across the battle suggests one hell of a battle though or horses up against's not Sevastopol is it??????????.:0

So now can I ask...where is this and who is excavating it??? Would love to go see...

Oops...forgot the references...

Ann Hyland: Equus, Horse in the Roman World (Not my favourite as she has a thing about Arabs which weren't really a breed until 800AD...and she goes on about Western riding which I don't agree is a suitable parallel to Roman riding)


Andrew Ayton: Knights and Warhorses (English Aristocracy under Edward III) nothing directly about horse shoes as such but a LOT of very detailed detail on numbers and costs of horses...quite a hard book to read as it is crammed with facts and figures.

Shire book of Horseshoes?

Like the image of detectorists staggering around with pockets full of scrap iron, bits of tractor, ploughshares, horseshoes etc :face-approve:

- although in my experience they never dig the stuff up unless specifically asked to, unlike scrap lead, bullets etc which they normally dig up and dump at the side of the field to avoid repeat exhumation next time around....
they also do it to clear it for the farmer, who is quite grateful.. but not many detectorists collect iron objects..

and good point about the horse shoe deadly.. would be a hell of a battle to have that many across a battlefield.

I am passign this al on, and Dave is very grateful.
Some of the detectorists around my neck of the woods only get access to fields if they do remove the iron they find as a quid pro quo for the farmer giving them access. The rest of us pick flint out of the paddocks...wouldn't say I collect it in the "keep" sense but I do "collect" it in the remove sense.

Glad to know the info may be of use...I was beginning to think it wasn't a serious query.

Oh, and one last point...Franco Prussian War of 1870 - 1871 was probably the last major campaign which involved a lot of cavalry on both sides. The last proper cavalry battle was 31 August 1920 between the Polish and the Bolsheviks at Komarow...but you've probably already know about this from wikipedia!:0
Worth considering the size of the horses too. As time went on horses were generally bred larger. Though of course there was a difference between horse sizes for light/heavy cavalry.
The Debauched Sloth Wrote:Worth considering the size of the horses too. As time went on horses were generally bred larger. Though of course there was a difference between horse sizes for light/heavy cavalry.

PLEASE don't tell me you believe the Roman cavalry went into battle on 13.2hh ponies too or I will probably do myself a mischief...if not you!Wink
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