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The Medieval Period (1100AD - 1499AD)

Life In The Middle Ages

Harness Pendant


This copper alloy horse harness pendant has traces of gilding.


These pendants were hung from bridles and harness from around 1200 onwards to

demonstrate the status or importance of the rider, often using heraldic devices.


The pendant consists of a central cruciform element with a suspensory loop at the top, the other arms being longer and which terminate in zoomorphic heads. Although much of the original surface is now missing there are surviving details on two of these arms which

suggest the heads may have had bodies stretching back along the arms of the cross.


This is not a common design for a pendant, and can only be paralleled by one other

example from Surrey. While this is unusual decoration for a harness pendant many recent

discoveries have demonstrated a tendency for objects associated with hunting or

equestrianism to be decorated with animal heads, including spurs and the leashes from hunting equipment. These were activities associated with the secular elites, but also with a particular elite ideal of dominion and control over the natural world which these same

activities represented. These are objects intended for a particular context, and the use of animal heads a good example of the type of symbolic language commonly found on

medieval objects.



Notes from a TTU report by Stuart Campbell


metal & copper alloy
length 77mm, width 87mm, depth 8mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Dumfries and Galloway Council

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