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12Th Century Horse Tack Research Project

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#1 Aart



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Posted 25 August 2012 - 02:06 AM

Hello everybody,

Let me tell you about -what you call- a research project. Living archeology. This summer my kids (25 and 20) went to build a castle. No sandcastle - no dream castle-
ROCK and Tmber !

Here back in France, in 1997 a group of enthousiasts started to build a 12th century
castle from the bottom up. The project will take some 25 years to finish but they are getting there. http://www.guedelon.fr The building material they find on site. With ancient techniques and handmade tools they are forgetting time.

No thatís wrong: They are focussing on time, Well spent!

In the beginning the project needed some initial and financial help but now is completely self supporting. ( 3 000 visitors per day) And each and every craftsman (there are around 60 of them) explains and shows what he does. What his part in this project means.
And all of them are happy and show their pride in their craftmanship.

Now why this on Leaterworker?

They do not use any electrical or motorised tool or engine. Theyíve built their lifting machines. They make their own rope. They cut down their own oak trees. It is truly awesome AND inspiring. And so they have two Percherons horses for all transport.

BUT when I went to visit I was ofcourse drawn to the stables and amazed to find that a modern harness with liverpools are being used. What an anachronism...

The idea is to help.
Is there anybody on this forum with research information on 12th century horse tack.
Iíve looked through the reenactment part but found nothing on medieaval horse tack.

Please ???


#2 Sylvia


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Posted 25 August 2012 - 11:32 AM

Hello Aart:

Sounds like a fun project. I did a google search and came up with a wikipedia article that talks about middle age harnesses.

The issue I see is that since then the technology has improved, most likely to prevent injury to the horse... a valuable animal.
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#3 amuckart



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Posted 26 August 2012 - 05:36 PM

Gudelon is pretty much the coolest project ever, and high on my list of places I really really want to visit as a reenactor.
Given what I know of the people involved, and my experiences of doing medieval reenactment for the last 13 or so years, I'd say that there are likely to be two main reasons they're using modern harness: firstly that there's almost no concrete information on what 12th-13th century harness looks/works like; and secondly that modern harness is probably far better for the animals they're using.
There are also issues that you can't really find 12th-century equivalent horses any more, modern horse breeds are quite different.
It's an anachronism, but it's a second-order effect for the work they're doing, i.e. it doesn't have a direct impact on the outcome of the build the way, say, using power tools instead of medieval stonemason's tools would.
The only resource I'm aware of that's easily available is the Museum of London book The Medieval Horse and its Equipment.

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#4 gesa



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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:19 AM

Here I found two pictures, that don't look too different to the working harness like in the picture from the web site of Guedelon.


For the health of the horses I would use the modern harness. It is important that it fits a working horse very well.

#5 Aart



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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:26 AM

Once again what a wonderful Forum...
Sylvia, Amuckart and Gesa; Thank you
Articles have been read,
Book has been ordered.
The kids went bck last week and I may spend some time there...
I'll try to keep you posted.
Best regards

#6 rufusjames



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:30 AM

Wow! What a cool project. I have been a Mason for the last 23 years. I slowed down the last few years due to the flood of CHEAP labor here in the US. Unfortunately the mass view of my trade has gone from master craftsmen to simple laborer. Nobody wants to pay for quality masonry anymore. I can't make any money at it and it is too hard of work to do for free. I would guess I have moved close to a million pounds of materials in my career. It sure feels like it at least.
It has been a career long dream of mine to go to Europe and lay just ONE stone on a project like this. Masonry has not change that much in the last hundred years. Still one brick/stone at a time.
Sorry my post wasn't about medieval tack, but I got excited about the project. I would love to see pics.

#7 immiketoo


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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:16 AM

Wow. I was close to that three times in the last five years and I never knew about it. I NEED to go back to Europe and see this!
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