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.
Between 2800 and 2400 cal BC pastoralists from Central Europe migrated into the eastern Baltic paving the way for the Corded Ware Culture (CWC), and a new type of economy, animal husbandry. Traditionally the CWC people were viewed as highly mobile due to the lack of substantial traces of dwellings and material culture at settlement sites; they were reliant on an economy based on animal husbandry as demonstrated by zooarchaeological and stable isotopic evidence. However, this paradigm is beginning to shift. Here, we present new AMS radiocarbon (14C) measurements, pollen and macrobotanical data from sediment samples and a portable fish screen, as well as technological, molecular and isotopic data obtained from ceramic vessels from three CWC sites in the eastern Baltic. Overall, our results indicate a de-Neolithisation process undergone by some CWC groups, particularly in lacustrine and coastal ecotones, and a shift to hunting, gathering and fishing.