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Get it right about medieval horses….!

We definitely do have set beliefs about medieval horses, mostly incorrect. Just because we see illustrations of medieval lords riding what look like ponies too small for them, we think it must be the fault of the illustrator. But no, for journeys they really did have small trotting horses that could keep going on and on and on, with a swift steady gait that was comfortable for both horse and rider. To our modern eyes it looks a little silly, but they knew what they were doing.

It’s the same with similar illustrations that show them riding with straight legs, especially knights in armour etc. But that was the way they rode, and very sensible it was too, enabling them to “stand” in the stirrups with great ease.

Richard II, King of England, presiding at a tournament, 1377-1379 (15th century). Watched by the king, mounted knights in armour joust with lances. In the pavilion on the left musicians play trumpets while in the one on the right the audience observes the combat.

As you can no doubt tell, I’m not a rider, and can only describe what I see, but if you go to this video you’ll see someone who definitely knows it all telling you about medieval horses. Thoroughly recommended.

Digging up Britain’s Past

This Channel Five documentary has just completed a second series, with Alex Langlands and Raksha Dave, late of Time Team, in place of Helen Skelton. One particular episode was about Auckland Castle, where the “Prince Bishops” of Durham have lived for centuries and where archaeology is being carried out around the building.

One of these influential Bishops was William Bek who, surprisingly for a cleric, co-commanded the English army against William Wallace at Falkirk, shortly after Wallace and Moray’s victory at Stirling Bridge. Consequently, Langlands and Dave visited a few other venues associated with the story, including those in Scotland.

The series has also covered the lost Roman town of Silchester and HMS Invincible, as well as the Catterick garrison and Sudeley Castle.

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