Historic find in Scotland provides insights into use of horse harness 3000 years ago

Pieces of the Bronze Age horse harness recovered from a field in southern Scotland. Photo: Treasure Trove Scotland

A 3000-year-old hoard unearthed in southern Scotland provides new insights into how Bronze Age horse harness operated.

Archaeologists were able to trace the remaining outlines of the leather straps attached to the metal rings discs and buckles, providing important information on how the harness was used and assembled.

The cache of items, described by officials as a find of national significance, was found in a field near Peebles, 36km south of Edinburgh.

Metal detectorist Mariusz Stepien is credited with the find. After unearthing a bronze object 50cm below the field, his detector signalled there were further items nearby. He and his friends immediately contacted Treasure Trove Scotland, the Crown agency that deals with such discoveries.

Archaeologists spent 22 days investigating and recovering items from the site. Mr Stepien slept in the field for the duration of the excavation, watching as the items were unearthed.

The recovered treasures included a sword still housed in its scabbard, decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps.

There was also what appeared to be a rattle pendant, most likely hung from the horse harness.

Emily Freeman, who heads the Treasure Trove Unit, said few Bronze Age hoards have been excavated in Scotland.

Ground conditions had helped preserve some organic material, which allowed archaeologists to learn more about some of the items.

All artifacts are now with the National Museums Collection Center in Edinburgh, where they will undergo careful investigation.

Researchers are still working to understand how the items came to be deposited there.


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One thought on “Historic find in Scotland provides insights into use of horse harness 3000 years ago

  • August 16, 2020 at 9:44 am


    I would dearly like to learn more about the find and will try to contact Emily Freeman

    Congratulations and thanks to Mariusz Stepien

    Robert Cook, Maryland USA


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