• New

Cheiron: Vol. 2/Issue 1 (2022)


ISSN 2786-3182 

Editors-in-Chief: Anastasija Ropa, Miriam A. Bibby 

Guest Editor: Patricia Stafford

Vol.  2 (Issue 1/2022)

Pages 1-196

DOI: 10.22618/TP.Cheiron.20221.1

 You can read this issue in open access






Stability and Utility of a First Century AD Roman Cavalry Saddle and the Influence on an Alternative Design for the Saddle

Moira M. Watson

Abstract: The four horned, stirrup-less, no-flap saddle can be traced in Roman cavalry for at least seven centuries and its origins with the Gallic tribes of Northern Europe probably extended before that. It is proposed that its longevity compared to other aspects of equine equipment, other than the stirrup, lies in its functionality; it was fit for purpose until finally outperformed by saddles with stirrups as mounted warfare became heavily armoured. The publication of a study into a no-flap saddle in 2018 presented the opportunity to explore this functionality and to compare the observations in stability and utility of the no-flap saddle with a reconstructed, first century AD Roman cavalry saddle. Assumptions about the design of the Roman cavalry saddle were originally made from the identification of stretch marks on a leather cover found in military contexts. This work, principally by Connolly, has influenced how Living History and other parties have assumed that the saddle had a wooden frame despite comments from contemporary riders that the saddle was too rigid, unstable and prone to breaking. In experiments with a Connolly saddle compared to conventional European saddles with flaps and no-flaps (but always with stirrups), it was found that riders reported a better feeling of stability in the Roman saddle. Due to the lack of archaeological evidence for a wooden framed saddle, an alternative design for the Roman saddle was constructed using material other than wood and produced an effective and viable alternative to the Connolly design. The alternative saddle design will be tested again with the addition of saddle horn covers, or “stiffeners,” to further explore stability and to assist the maintenance of a half seat, or raised position, to allow full weapon effectiveness. 

A Saddle from Wieluń dated to the Turn of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries 

Marcin Ruda

Abstract: The study represents a reconstruction of a historical late medieval saddle found in Poland, Wieluń, in 2010/11. The reconstruction was affected by creating a 3D model based on the leather and wooden elements preserved, and comparing it to iconographic evidence. The saddle was also tried on the back of three horses of different height, in three gaits – walk, trot and cantor.

What Can You Do with Mare’s Milk and a Stallion’s Teeth? A Brief Overview of the Uses of Equine Substances in Classical and Medieval Pharmacology

Marian E. Polhill

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of select premodern materia medica containing equine substances as their principal ingredients. The various horse parts used, for example, blood, dung, and milk, among others, as well as their specific remedies will be discussed. Sources include pharmacological treatises, such as Dioscorides’ De materia medica, Sextus Placidus’ Liber medicinae ex animalibus, the fifteenth-century pharmaceutical bestiary or Tierbuch by Hans Minner; the magically oriented Cyranides; and encyclopedic texts, for example, Pliny’s Historia naturalis and Albert the Great’s De animalibus.

Perceval and the Gift of Natural Horsemanship in Medieval and Post-medieval Literature

Anastasija Ropa

Abstract: This study focuses on an instance of free riding in a Middle English Arthurian romance, Sir Perceval of Gales. While the figure of Perceval has been studied by many scholars, and it has been noted how Perceval’s mounts in romances reflect on his social status and his progress into the ranks of chivalry, this particular romance, and Perceval’s horses in it, has received little scholarly attention. It is argued that, far from being seen in the positive light in which we view it today, Perceval’s gift of natural horsemanship would have been perceived by the romance’s audience as a sign of the hero’s immaturity and wildness, though also related to his innocence. The study also examines Perceval’s horsemanship in other medieval and post-medieval works of literature, arguing that horse’s and horsemanship constitute a mark of the hero’s initiation into the ranks of chivalry.

The Materiality of the Horse in Iron Age and Historical Finland as observed in Zooarchaeological and Folk-Belief Material

Auli Bläuer, Sonja Hukantaival, Juha Kantanen

Abstract: In this article, we combine zooarchaeological, ethnological and folk-belief material to study the deposition of archaeological horse remains and the beliefs and symbolic or social attributes associated with horses. We collected zooarchaeological data from 58 Iron Age, medieval and post-medieval archaeological sites and studied abundance of horse remains, their anatomical distribution and their archaeological context. From the nineteenth to the early twentieth century, horses were considered apart from other farm animals and were thought to possess special abilities, such as sensing other-worldly activity. The understanding of the complex traditions, beliefs and practices affecting the material remains of horses is aided by the large dataset spanning a long period, careful consideration of find contexts, and the anatomical distribution and multisource approach.

A Little “Bit” of Early Medieval Scotland: An Examination and Analysis of the Lochlea Crannóg Snaffle

Rena Maguire

Abstract: A snaffle bit, made of copper alloy and iron, found at Lochlea crannóg in 1878 has no direct parallel in the Scottish archaeological record. It has previously considered Iron Age, but a re-assessment of the site indicates it is more likely to have been made during the early medieval period, most likely the sixth century AD. Its unusual construction also illustrates how the earlier and problematic triple-link bits of the first and second centuries AD fitted. The design of the snaffle, with its mixture of equestrian cultural influences, poses questions about identities and hybrid technology in the face of a changing society. 

A Companion on the Way: Horses and Ponies, Agency and Material Culture on the Montana Trail, c. 1865

Edward Owen Teggin

Abstract: This article examines the concept of the companionship and utility of horses and ponies on the mid-nineteenth-century Montana Trail. In particular, aspects such as the enjoyment and usefulness of these animals are highlighted. The travel journal of Sarah Raymond Herndon serves as a case study due to her detailed chronicling of her experiences on the plains, especially in connection with her pony. As such, this study combines an investigation into experiences on the Montana Trail with one of the usages of material culture, agency and anxiety. In this way, the important role of horses and ponies on the western emigrant trails of the mid-nineteenth century is reassessed to more fully reflect this methodology.

The California Vaquero and Texas Cowboy: Tracing the Legacy of Spanish Medieval Horsemanship

Sarah Sargent

Abstract: This article uses a lens of cultural history, cultural heritage and heritage to trace the legacy of Spanish medieval horsemanship across time and space in the development of the California vaquero and Texas cowboy. The Texas cowboy is  a highly recognizable icon in American national myths and narratives. Myths and narratives present idealized and factually inaccurate accounts of history. This article examines the development of equestrian practices in their historical context alongside the conflation of history and horsemanship. It thus reveals the influence of geopolitical ambitions, rivalries, and practical necessity, on the development of two new equestrian cultures in the New World. 


Floriana Bardoneschi, Chevaux, paysans et artisans Le travail attelé entre Meuse et Loire (XII -XVI siècle)

Reviewed by Anastasija Ropa

Sally Mitchell and Nick Creaton, A Brief History of the Side Saddle and 
Erica Munkwitz, Women, Horse Sports, and Liberation. Equestrianism and Britain from the 18th to the 20th Centuries

Reviewed by Anastasija Ropa

Brenda Wahler, Montana Horse Racing, A History

Reviewed by Patricia Stafford


Specific References

You might also like

Clients say