Blog February 10th 2015
horese harness strap joiner

The horse harness strap joiner - the face in the crowd

Back to another intruiging part of the Viking Age horse equestrian equipment: the horse harness strap joiner.

I will use 'horse harness strap joiner' as there appears to be a tree of terms to describe these kind of artefact, as : horse harness strap distributor, horse harness strap fitting, horse bridle fitting, horse harness strap junction, horse harness checck piece and even horse harness mount..

These horse harness strap joiners are an 11th century feature within England, and can be addressed 'Viking-Age' although they diverse stylistically between 'Anglo-Saxon' or 'Anglo-Scandinavian'. A thorough reference to these specific type of equestrian equipment seems to be lacking to me. A book like 'The medieval horse and its equipment' - Medieval finds from excavations in London c. 1150 - c. 1450 AD by John Clark regrettably isn't addressing these.

The Late Saxon Stirrup-strap Mounts: A Classification and Catalogue by David Williams is adressing stirrup mounts and terminals but no other parts of equestrian equipment.

Nevertheless ! If someone can give a better reference to these horse harness strap joiners, let me know ! Back to the subject..

The horse harness strap joiner was part of the bridle of the horse, and like stirrup mounts and terminals and horse harness pendants were executed in a very adorned style..

The horse harness strap joiner on top is of Anglo-Saxon type. It is a cheeck piece with face decoration. These 'faces' are executed in very diverse form, as is the main purpose of this article, as you are going to see.

Beneath, an image of the place on the horse harness where the horse harness strap joiner was placed.

The horse harness strap joiner slide show beneath shows a true Anglo-Scandinavian type. The 'mask' face is recalling images on stones from Denmark as the Sjellebro stone and the Aarhus mask stone, although in a very deformed way.. I have never seen this specific type of horse harness strap joiner before and it would have a very special meaning regrettably only known by the smith and its owner..

horse harness strap distributor
face mask rune stone Denmark
sjellebro stone

On the slide show beneath another form of a face horse harness strap joiner of Anglo-Saxon type. Although 'Anglo-Saxon' these type could also have been used by 'Anglo-Scandinavians' or true vikings. The image on this horse harness strap joiner could depict anything, from a cat to the devil or... Loki ?

The Norse god Loki was known as a shapeshifter, and could turn up within a horse harness strap joiner as well..

Another remarkable horse harness strap joiner I'd like to show you in the slide show here under. It is of an Anglo-Saxon type I haven't came across either and is clearly showing us a human face.

Glaring at us with great, almost surprised or frightened eyes, it appeals to our imagination. Although a part broken - the same kind of problem as appears with the trefoil brooches found within England - a truly amazing piece of art.

'One for the road' is this last horse harness strap joiner beneath..another intruiging form of a face, we wished it could talk back to us...

Finally, some more images of the horse harness strap joiner on top of this weeks article..

If I get to know more background information and references, of course I will ad them in the forthcoming time.

Meanwhile I hope I have entertained you with the slide shows !


I am always interested in other people's articles/images from an artefact they know, or have themselves. If you like to write a guest blog - you are more than welcome !

Please contact me at :


Thomas Kamphuis

February 10th 2015


Graham-Campbell, James, Anglo-Scandinavian equestrian equipment in eleventh-century England, p. 87-89 (I have ordered this, because relevant information might be addressed here also);

Hammond, B. British Artefacts, Volume 2 - Middle Saxon & Viking, 2010p. 85;

Pedersen, A, Riding gear from Late Viking-age Denmark, Journal of Danish Archaeology, Volume 13, 1996-1997, Odense University Press, p. 137 see:

Link to article last week - January 31th 2015