The Hoard from Bækkedal in Northern Denmark and the Use of Two-Horse Teams in the Late Nordic Bronze Age

In: Acta Archaeologica
Torben Sarauw Head of Cultural Heritage, Historical Museum of Northern Jutland Aalborg Denmark

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Per Thorling Hadsund Head of Collections and Conservator, Historical Museum of Northern Jutland Aalborg Denmark

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Hana Lukesova Senior Conservator, Department of Collection Management, University Museum of Bergen Bergen Norway

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This article examines the use and significance of two-horse teams within the Nordic Late Bronze Age cultural sphere in southern Scandinavia and the southwestern Baltic region. Its point of departure is a remarkable hoard found in the late summer of 2014 at Bækkedal in northern Jutland, Denmark. The hoard, dated to period V of the Bronze Age, differs from many other hoards of this period by virtue of its abundant and almost complete content of bridles and other harness components for a two-horse team, including cheek pieces, phalerae and jingle plates. Furthermore, organic material was preserved in the form of parts of the bridle, with bronzes in situ, together with bits and reins. It therefore provides important new information about the group of hoards that contain horse tack, given that it is now possible, for the first time, to see how a bridle was constructed. Moreover, it contributes to our understanding of driving with two-horse teams and four-wheeled wagons, which, given the quantity of horse tack in hoards, must have been more commonplace than indicated by the other finds in the archaeological record. Lastly, the local context of the hoard is examined and reveals an area rich in other contemporaneous deposit finds and numerous settlement traces.

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