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iV 1^/ CENTER 

Por un clavo se pierde una herradura, por una ^herradura un Cavallo, por un Cavallo un 
Cavallero. — Oiti Spanish Proverb. 

A little neglect may breed great mischief. For want of a nail the shoe was lost ; for want of a 
shoe the horse was lost ; and for want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by 
the enemy ; all for want of a little care about a horse-shoe nail. — Benjamin Franklin. 

A proper mode of shoeing is certainly of more importance than the treatment of any disease, or 
perhaps of all the diseases incident to horses. The foot is a part that we are particularly required 
to preserve in health ; and if this art be judiciously employed, the foot will not be more liable to 
disease than any other organ. — Professor E. Coleman. 












t^ -r? ~7 rN 


To all who possess an interest in or a love for the horse, but little 
apology will be required in offering for their acceptance a work like the 
present. The result of much labour and research, it is an attempt to 
trace, for the first time in England, the origin and history of the art of 
shoeing horses. Since the publication, in 183 1, of Bracy Clark's essay 
' On the Knowledge of the Ancients respecting the Art of Shoeing the 
Horse,' the science of ethnological archaeology has made wonderful 
progress in throwing light upon much that was obscure, or altogether 
lost, in the darkness of pre-historic, and even historic times, and the 
manners and customs of ancient peoples have been largely elucidated 
by it. Some of its rays have been incidentally shed upon the early 
condition of this apparently humble handicraft, tending considerably to 
modify, or altogether disprove, the opinions held by various authorities 
as to the antiquity of horse-shoeing. 

Though but of minor importance in archaeology, yet the discussion 
of this subject has attracted much notice at times, and engaged a large 
share of attention on the part of men much celebrated as antiquarians 
and scholars. And the origin of the art, though of comparatively little 
moment in an utilitarian point of view, is nevertheless one of those 
interesting subjects which will always prove interesting to the anthro- 
pologist and archaeologist. 

To make this portion of the work complete, every discovery of 
relics connected with the subject has been inquired into, when possible, 
and no pains have been spared in the investigation of its unwritten 

With regard to the Middle Ages, much original research has, I 
trust, satisfactorily brought the history forward to a period when 
authentic records become abundant, and these have been made suffi- 
ciently available for the purpose; while, for the succeeding centuries. 

viii PREFACE. 

and up to our own time, the principal kinds of shoeing introducedj and 
their various defects, have been noticed in detail. 

The importance of the farrier's art to civilization, and to the welfare 
of the horse, with its evils and how to remedy them, have been con- 
sidered in separate chapters. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to assert, 
that if the progress of this craft, as it has been practised in Europe, had 
been carefully studied, and the teachings of its most notable exponents 
kept in view, the modern patent offices would have been much less 
patronized, the equine species would have been benefited to an extent 
which those who abhor cruelty to animals little dream of, and a large 
saving in horse-power and horse-life would have been the result. It is 
to be hoped that the investigations now published may prove useful in 
this respect, and that the latter portions of the work may attract atten- 
tion to the great injury done to the horse by the barbarous treatment 
its feet are generally subjected to, so that tlie lessons atforded by history 
may not be without advantage to the noble animal and his master. 

For many years the anatomy, functions, and management of the 
horse's limbs and feet have been made the object of careful observa- 
tion. The present treatise contains a portion of the results arrived at ; 
the remainder will appear, I trust, at no distant day. 

The assignment of the diversely-shaped antique shoes to certain 
ages — a matter of much difficulty — resulted from the examination and 
comparison of specimens found in various parts of Great Britain and 
the Continent of Europe, and the remains discovered with them. 

Nothing has been omitted, so far as I am aware, that might prove 
useful or interesting in this inquiry into the origin, progress, traditions, 
and utility of an art to which our Western civilization owes so much. 
The drawings have been most carefully prepared to illustrate its various 
phases, and, whenever possible, photography has been resorted to for 
greater correctness. 

For obliging assistance in my labours, I gratefully beg to acknow- 
ledge the kind services of Messrs Mayer, F.S.A., Morgan, Moor, and 
Picton, of Liverpool, in furnishing me with information relative to 
specimens in the free Museum of that city ; Mr C. Roach Smith, 
F.S.A., Strood, for much assistance in obtaining specimens, and in aid- 
ing me in every possible way; Mr Murray, British Museum; and M. 
Megnin, veterinary surgeon to the Horse Artillery of the Imperial Guard, 
at Versailles, for a copy of his excellent treatise on French farriery. 

BrotiiptotL Barracks, 

Chaihain, yuiie i, i86g. 




The value of the Horse as a hving Machine depends to a great 
extent upon his Feet. The care taken of them by Ancient 
People. Xenophon and his Advice. The necessity for Sound 
Feet. History of the Art of Shoeing. The Hoof in a Natural 
State. Effects of Domestication and Climate. The Persians, 
Ethiopians, Abyssinians, Tartars, Mongols, and other Nations. 
The Greeks. Difficulty in tracing the Origin of Shoeing. 
Scriptural Times. Homer, and ' Brazen- Footed.' Tryphiodo- 
rus. Bronze Shoes, and Shoeless Hoofs. Xenophon on the 
Management of Horses' Feet. Aristotle. Polydore Vergil. 
The Greek Marbles. Climate of Greece. Effects of March- 
ing. Translators' and Commentators' Mistakes. Arrian and 
Artemidorus. The Coin of Tarentum. 

CHAPTER n. . . 38 

The Horse with the Romans. Their Cavalry. Pliny. Camel- 
shoeing. Silence of Roman Hippiatrists in regard to Shoeing. 
Cato, Varro, Horace, Virgil, Lucan, Claudianus, Fitz-Stephen. 
Roman Roads, and Couriers. Columella, Julius Pollux. 
Diocletian's Edict. Hoof Instruments. Apsyrtus, Palladius, 
Vegetius, Renatus, Renatus Flavins. Polybius. Carbatinai and 
Embattai. Soleae Ferrese. Catullus, ScaHger, Suetonius. Gold 
and Silver Soleae. Extravagance of the Romans. Caligula, 
Nero, Poppaea, and Commodus. Theomnestus. Solea Spartea, 
and the Glante Ferreo. Hippopodes. Chariot-racing. 
Opinions as to the existence of Shoeing with the Ancients. 
Montfau9on, Winckelmann, Fabretti, Camerarius, Pancirolus, 
Vossius, Pegge, Smith, Heusinger, Rich. Supposed negative 



evidence of Written History and Sculpture. Temporary 
Shoes, and other expedients to preserve the Hoofs in Japan, 
China, Manilla, Singapore, etc. Straw Shoes. Iceland and 
Central Asia. 


Overthrow of the Roman Empire by the Barbarians. The 
' Dark Ages.' The Emperor Leo, and his ' Tactica.* Fer- 
rea Lunatico. The Emperor Constantine and ' Selenaia.' 
Archaeology. Ancient Customs of Europe, Chifflet's De- 
scription of King Childeric's Tomb. Douglas and the Ahhk 
Cochet. Discovery of Antique Horse-shoes. Burial with 
Horses. The Ancient Germans and other Races ; their Super- 
stitions. The Gauls and Britons. Rarity of Horse-shoes in 
Graves. The Celts shod their Horses ; their History. The 
Gauls as a Nation : Warriors and Agriculturists. The Druids. 
Gallic Names. An Equestrian Nation. Horses, Waggons, 
and Roads. Alesia and its Tombs. Primitive Farriery. The 
Druid's Workshop and Altar. The Pontitf Blacksmith. The 
Gaulish Cavalry. Defeat of Vercingetorix. Napoleon HI. 
and his ' Vie de Caesar.' Besan^on and its Relics. Small- 
sized Horse-shoes. Gallo-Roman Shoes ; their Peculiarities. 
Specimens found with Roman remains. Vaison and its Tes- 
timony. Creqy. Suppression of Druidism in Gaul. In- 
vasion of the Franks, and Effeminacy of the Gaulish Nobles. 
The Franks not an Equestrian People. Levies of Cows instead 
of Horses. Absence of Horse-shoes from Merovingian Graves. 
The Carlovingian Dynasty. Advantages of Cavalry. Charle- 
magne and Revival of Equestrianism. Traditions. Shoeing 
in France in the 9th and subsequent Centuries. The Comte 
de I'Etable, and Ecuyer. Origin of Chivalry and its Constitu- 
tion. Duties of the Knights. The Mareschal. 


Horse-shoes found in Switzerland : their Antiquity and Shape. 
M. Quiquerez's Researches and Obervations. Valuable In- 
dications afforded by the Shoes as to the Breeds of Horses, and 
the different Races of People. Forges in the Jura Alps. Very 
ancient Shoe. Prevalence of Shoes with Celtic Remains. 
Roman Camps. Horse-shoes of different Forms. The Bur- 



gundians and Grooved Shoes. Increase of Sizes. Shoes 
found in Btlgium. Germany. Horse-loving Tribes. In- 
ferior Horses. Ancient Horse-shoes of large and small sizes. 
Grosz's Description. Roman Camp of Dalheim. The Burgun- 
dian Groove. Steinfurt. Monument with Runic Inscription 
and Figure of a Horse-shoe. The Burgundii. The Farrier 
as Armourer. The Dwarf Regin. Saint Eloy's Day at the 
Burgundian Court. The Patron Saint. German History. 
Wide prevalence of the Grooved Shoe. Scandinavia. The 
Smith's Art. Golden Shoes. Peat-mosses and their contents. 


Shoeing among Eastern Nations. Brand-mark of Cir- 
cassian Horses. Lycian Triquetra. The Hegira. Tartar 
Horse-shoes. The Koran. Introduction of Shoeing to Con- 
stantinople. Arab Traditions and Customs. Arab Shoes, 
and Management of the Hoofs. Syrian, Algerian, and Moorish 
Shoes. Horses on a Journey. Instinct of Arab Horses. Arab 
Method of Shoeing. Comparison between French and Arab 
Methods. Cenomanus. Strong Hoofs. Muscat. Portugal, 
Spain, and Transylvania. Central Asia. John Bell and 
Tartar Tombs. Marco Polo. Cossacks. Tartar Songs. 
Peking and its Neighbourhood. Chinese Shoeing. Shoeing 
Bullocks. North American Indians and Parfleche. 


Britain, its Early Population. Their Manners and Customs. 
Equestrians. Caesar's Invasion. Great numbers of Horses, 
Working in Iron. Chariots. Rarity of Ancient Horse-shoes. 
British Barrows. Silbury Hill and its Antiquities. The Great 
King. Old Horse-shoes. Clark's Specimens. Beckhampton 
Relics. Springhead and its Remains. York Specimens. 
Colney, London, and Gloucester. Excellent Illustrations. 
Cotswold Hills. Roman Villa at Chedworth. Cirencester. 
Pevensey Castle. Hod Hill and ils Story. Spurs. Hoof- 
pick. Uriconium and Conderum. Liverpool Examples. 
Repulseof the Britons. Laws of Howel the Good. Division 
of Wales. Trinal System. Welsh King's Court. The Judge 
of the Court and Groom of the Rein. Duties, Privileges, and 
Protection of the Smith. The Three Arts. Value of the 



Horse's Foot. List and Valuation of Smiths' Tools. Triads. 
Sons of the Bond. The Smith's Seat at Court. Sir Walter 
Scott and the ' Norman Horse-shoe.' King Arthur's Stone. 
Traditions of Hoof-prints. Renaud and the Black Rocks of 
Ardennes. The Chevalier Mason. Scythe-stone Pits of 
Devonshire. Strange Imprint. The Seat of a Zoophyte. The 
Anglo-Saxons. Their Horse-shoes. Equestrian Habits. Monks 
and Mares. Sporting Priests. Anglo-Saxon Laws. Value of 
Horses. Saxon Cavalry. Harold and the Danes and Nor- 
mans. Saxon Weapons, Graves. Fairford, Caenby, 
Brighton Downs, Gillingham, Berkshire. Battle Flats. 
Anglo-Saxon Illuminations. Matthew of Paris. Shoeing 
Front Feet. Frost. Shoeing in Scotland. Norman Invasion. 
A Noble Saxon Farrier. Bayeux Tapestry. Shoeing with 
the Normans. Armorial Bearings. Simon St Liz. Earl 
Ferrers and Okeham. Curious Custom. Death of William 
the Conqueror. 


Discovery of so-called ' Hipposandals.' Diverse Opinions. 
Various Models. Prevalence on the Continent and in Eng- 
land : their Characteristics. Three Types. Different Hypo- 
theses. Discoveries at Dalheim. Pathological Shoes. Erro- 
neous Conclusions. Hill of Sacrifices. M. Bieler. Chateau 
Beauregard, Vieil-Evreux, and Remencourt. M. Defays. 
Hipposandals on Hoofs. Mule and Ox-sandals. Third Type. 
English Specimens. Stuttgart. Are they Foot Defences ? 
Arguments adverse to this Supposition. Quiquerez and Dela- 
croix. Busandals. Cato the Censor. Liquid Pitch. Shoes 
or Skids for Wheels. Ancient References. 


Probable Date of the Invention of Shoeing. Employment of 
Metals by Early Peoples. The ' Iron Age.' Ancient Iron 
Mines. Antiquity of Iron Weapons. Value of Legends. 
Wayland Smith and his Craft. Traditions. Cromlechs. 
Wayland Smith's Cave. The Armourer and Farrier of the 
Celts and Gauls. Wayland's Renown. Morte D'Arthur. 
Smiths, their Position and Traditions. Druid Smiths. St 
Columbus and Celtic Priests. Smith-craft among the Anglo- 


Saxons. Domes-day Book. Monkish Smith. St Dunstan 
and the Evil One. St Eloy and Highworth Church. Zurich. 
Abyssinia. Arabia. Persia. Java. Acadie. Mysteries of 
Samothrace and Druidism. First of November. Reasons for 
Roman Ignorance of Shoeing. The Caledonian Wall. 
* Horse -shoe ' Medal. Change in Designation of the Farrier. 
Early Marechals and their Rank. Age of Chivalry. Appren- 
ticeship of a Chevalier. Archbishop Hughes of Besan9on. 
Rights of the Marechal. Normans in France. Origin of 
Marshall and Farrier. Fleta. The London Marescallis. Seal 
of Ralph, The Marshall Ferrer. Superstitions concerning 
Horse-shoes in various Countries. German Legends. Moon- 


Shoeing in England after the Norman Conquest. Eustathius. 
Revival of Veterinary Science. Jordanus Ruffus. Petrus de 
Crescentius. Laurentius Rusius. Shod Oxen. Shoeing 
Forges. Counting the Horse-shoes and Hob-nails. Liber Quo- 
tidianus. The Dextrarius and Hobby. Hawking. Stratagem 
of Reversing Shoes. Robert Bruce and Duke Christopher of 
Wurtemberg. Value of Shoes and Nails for Horses in England 
in the 13th and 14th Centuries. Coal. The Revolt of the 
Duke of Lancaster. Tutbury Castle and the River Dove. 
Curious Discovery of Treasure and Horse-shoes. Froissart. 
Wars of Kings Edward II. and III. Gloucester Corporation 
Seal. Status of the Farrier. Different Breeds of Horses. 
Grooved imported Shoes. The Days of Chivalry. Family 
Coats of Arms, Lombardy and Flemish Horses. The Chate- 
laine of Warrenne. Hamericourt. Farriery in Scotland. An 
unjust Law. Statutes of Edward VI. Henry VIII, and 
Shoeing with Felt. Curious Customs and Extravagance. 
Gold and Silver Shoes. Farriers. Caesar Fiaschi. Diversity 
of Shoes. German Writers. Carlo Ruini. 


Horse-shoeing in the i6th and 17th Centuries. Influence of 
the Italian Hippiatrists. Different Forms of Shoes in England. 
Escape of Charles II. An Observant Farrier. The Farriers' 
Company. The Edinburgh Hammermens' Corporation. 






Marston Moor Shoe. Thomas Blundevil. ItaHan Technical 
Terms. Blundevil's Art of Shoeing. The 'Butter.' Its 
Derivation. Manner of Making and Piuting-on Shoes. Un- 
prohtable Devices. The German and Ilahan Anti-shpping 
Shoes. Shoes without Nails. Jointed Shoes. Every Gen- 
tleman could Shoe his Horse in Germany. Tlie ' Planche ' 
Shoe. Injurious Results of Blundevil's Teaching. Baret and 
•Markham. Snape. France. The Marechaux Ferrants. 
Solleysel. Royal Farriers. Home's Translation of Solleysel. 
Shoeing in France. 


The Establishment of Veterinary Schools in France. Treatises 
on Shoeing. Clumsy Specimens of Shoes. Latosse, sen., the 
greatest Authority on Modern Farriery. The Evils of Shoe- 
ing. Destructive Paring. Improved Shoeing, The Short 
Shoe and the Incrusted Shoe. Opposition of the Parisian 
Farriers. Lafosse, junior. Bourgelat, the Founder of the 
Veterinary Schools in France. The Adjusted Shoe. Burning 
the Hoofs when fitting the Shoes. Jeremiah Bridges. The 
Influence of Locality on the Hoofs. The ' Screw ' Shoe. 
Numerous Diseases of the Foot. Osmer. Complaint against 
Farriers. English Shoeing. Contracted Hoofs. Navicular 
Disease. The Evils of Paring. The Seated Shoe. Just Re- 
marks. The Use of the Rasp. The Flat Shoe. Expansion 
of the Horse's Foot. Clark's Treatise. Prejudice against 
Improvements. The Earl of Pembroke. Unshod Horses. 
Management of the Hoofs. Defective Shoes. Clark's Shoe. 


Establishment of the London Veterinary School. M. St Bel. 
Moorcroft. The Qualities of a good Shoe. Coleman. Errors 
in Physiology. Conclusions of Coleman as to Shoeing. Im- 
practicable Shoeing. Bracy Clark. Exaggerated Notions and 
Re-discoveries. Futile Experiments. Various Writers. Mr 
Goodwin's Method. Its Recommendations and Appropriate- 
ness. Its Composite Character. Preparation of the Hoof and 
Application of the Shoe. Errors in this Method. The Bar 
and Jointed Shoe. Discouragement of Veterinary Science in 
Britain. The Unilateral Shoe. Youatt and his Teaching. 
Miles' Method of Shoeing. Its Fallaciousness. Hot-fitting. 



Hallen and Fitzwygram's Method. Its Disadvantages. Ma- 
vor's Patent Shoe. 


Modern Farriery in France. Podometric Shoeing. The 
' Ferrure a Froid ' and ' Ferrure a Chaud.' Conflicting 
Evidence. Evils of Cold-titting. Interesting Experiments. 
Conclusions. New Inventions. Sanfarouche. Anti-slipping 
Shoes. The ' Ferrure Watrin.' Naudin and Benjamin's 
Methods. Machine-made Shoes in France. The * Periplan- 
taire,' or ' Charlier ' Method of Shoeing. Its Description. M. 
Charlier's Account. Practice of Shoeing. Tools, and Fabri- 
cation of the Shoe. Its Application. Discussions. Modifi- 
cations and Results. Shoeing in England. The latest Novelty. 
The Transatlantic ' Invention.' Its Admirers and Success. 
Steel-faced Shoes. 


Importance of Shoeing to Civilization. The Greeks and 
Romans. Inconveniences attending the Employment of 
Unshod Animals. Roads and Cities. Manual Labour. In- 
troduction of Shoeing and its Erfects. Various Breeds of 
Horses. Changes in the Art of War. Increase in Cavalry. 
Armour. Riding Double. Heavy Equipment. Increasing 
Importance of Shoeing. Examples. Napoleon's Retreat from 
Moscow. Danish Retreat from Schleswig. Farriers' Strike 
in Paris. 


Progress of the Art of Farriery. Futile Attempts to Improve 
it. Disadvantages of Shoeing. Functions of the Foot to be 
Studied. Advantages of the Ancient System. German Shoe- 
ing and Hoof-paring. Its Evil Results. Traditional Shoeing. 
Routine. Erroneous Theories. Maltreatment of the Horse's 
Foot. Lafosse's Teaching. Requirements of Good Shoeing. 
Structure and Functions of the Hoof. Bad Shoeing. Rules 
to be Observed. Best Form of Shoe, and Method of Applica- 
tion. Hereditary Diseases. Shoeing in America and Arabia. 
Effects of European Shoeing. Dangers of Improper Shoeing. 
Scientific Application of the Farrier's Art. An Appeal to 


Page 334, line 19, for ' brass ' read ' bronze ' 
,, 4S4, line 5, y^^ ' 1763' 7va(^ ' 1673' 







The horse is justly considered, even in these days, 
when the application of steam power has to a certain 
extent limited some of his more important functions, one 
of the most tractable and serviceable living machines, 
viewing him as a motor, ever pressed into slavery by 
man, and consequently ranks high above all those crea- 


tures which have submitted themsehes to domestication 
and toll for the benefit of the human species. 

The varied uses to which he has been subjected, since 
taken from a wild state, and the willing and cheerful man- 
ner with which he has undergone fatigue, and performed 
duties which are, one would think, quite foreign to his 
nature, have all been owing to his combined and un- 
equalled qualities of strength, courage, speed, fidelity, 
and obedience, as well as docility ; and though his great 
value depends essentially upon a just disposition of these, 
yet more especially is it as a living machine, capable of 
moving or producing motion, and communicating it to 
inert masses at all times and in nearly all situations, that 
he is to be prized. 

Where, and at what period of the world's history, he 
was first brought into a state of servitude ; whether at one 
or more points of the earth's surface man commenced to 
utilize his noble attributes, we know not. Certain it is, 
however, that some of the pre-historic races of the human 
family sought his aid ; and the ancient Aryans, more than 
three thousand years ago, as we learn from the Riga-Veda, 
in their home towards the upper valley of the Indus, loved 
and bred the horse, harnessed him to their chariots with 
spoked-wheels, and made him assume the principal part in 
their greatest religious sacrifices. 

The history of mankind abundantly testifies, that 
every possible use and application of this animal, whether 
in war, commerce, or pleasure, seems to have been antici- 
pated by the most ancient peoples ; proving the earliest 
sense and conviction of his immense importance to man. 
Those old-world nations which, long ages ago, most largely 


employed the horse, were the great centres of antique civil- 
ization ; and it may safely be asserted, that, without him, 
the human race could not have reached its present state 
of refinement, or have been able to contend against the 
numerous obstacles to comfort and happiness which have 
surrounded it; indeed, it has been said, that next to the 
want of iron, the want of horses would have been, per- 
haps, one of the greatest physical barriers to the advance- 
ment of the arts of civilized life. 

Doubtless, what might be termed the moral qualities 
of the horse, had largely conduced to make him so serv- 
iceable in all ages, but by far the largest share must be 
attributed to those of a physical kind. Strength, speed, 
endurance, and astonishing alacrity have endowed him 
with his most useful characteristics, and given him the 
pre-eminence over all other domesticated animals ; and 
these qualities again depend upon a marvellous adaptation 
of the organs and textures of which he is composed to 
the most varied requirements. 

Cuvier has somewhere said of the horse, that but for 
the space of bare gum between the incisor and molar 
teeth which affords space for the insertion and action of 
the bit, it would never have been subjected to the power 
of man. Far rather with truth may it be said, that but 
for the horse being endowed with a hoof which covers 
and protects the most beautiful and delicate of structures, 
and which being solid and a slow conductor of heat and 
cold, fits it for travelling in snow and ice during the winter 
of northern regions, and in the burning sands of tropical 
climates, he would scarcely have proved himself worth 
the trouble of domesticatino;. Means could have been 


employed to ride and drive him widiout a bit in his 
mouthj but no invention or device of man could have 
compensated for the absence of his solid, hoof-cased foot. 
From the earliest ages, the attention of horsemen and 
horse-loving nations has been directed to the conservation 
or perfectioning of those attributes which make this ever- 
willing slave so worthy of our admiration and gratitude ; 
and those horses which had the best conformation, and 
proved themselves fleetest and hardiest, were ever selected 
as models for breeding and purchasing. And curiously 
enough, though it was not to be wondered at, nearly every 
one of the ancient writers, when speaking of the horse, 
centre their attention on his feet ; no matter how beauti- 
fully formed the other points of his conformation may 
have been, if his feet were defective, all was bad. The 
excellent horseman and gallant soldier, Xenophon, to 
whose extant treatises on the horse we are indebted for so 
much of what we know of equestrian matters in the an- 
cient world, tersely specifies how essential even in his day, 
when the uses of this animal were more limited, it was 
that he have good feet, or there was no profit in him. 
He says : ' In respect to the horse's body, then, we assert 
that we m.ust first examine the feet ; for as there would 
be no use in a house, though the upper parts were ex- 
tremely beautiful, if the foundations were not laid as they 
ought to be, so there would be no profit in a war-horse, 
even if he had all his other parts excellent but was un- 
sound in his feet ; for then he would be unable to render 
any of his other good qualities effective.' ' 

And from the days of Xenophon to the present, when 

' De Re Equestri. 


the uses of the horse have been so multiplied and so much 
more necessary for our business or pleasure, the truth of 
this advice has been daily receiving confirmation, until the 
aphorism ' No foot, no horse,' has become a painful reality ■ 
in modern days, though it is but a re-echo of what was 
enunciated centuries beyond two thousand years ago. 

For the manifestation of his strength and the due 
performance of his useful qualities, the horse must, there- 
fore, rely upon the soundness of his feet, as in them are 
concentrated the efforts created elsewhere ; and on them 
depend not only the sum total of these propulsive powers 
being properly expended, but also the solidity and just 
equilibrium of the whole animal fabric. So that it is 
wisely considered that the foot of the horse is one of the 
most, if not the most, important part of all the locomotory 
apparatus; and that all the splendid qualities possessed by 
the noble creature may be diminished in value or hope- 
lessly lost, if through disease or accident, natural or ac- 
quired defects, or other causes, this organ fails to perform 
its allotted task. 

Seeing, then, the great interest which attaches to this 
animal, in its being of all creatures most concerned with 
man in promoting a progressive and long-continued civil- 
ization, and to the means and appliances which the lord 
of the creation has from time to time brought to bear in 
increasing the utility (would I could say comfort and 
happiness !) of this devoted servant, I have entered on 
the present inquiry into the origin and early history of 
what is generally looked upon as a humble art ; for the 
simple reason that it affords us a glimpse, or rather a faint 
idea, of an obscure occupation, a modest handicraft, in- 


creasing a hundred-fold the value of the horse, and testi- 
fies to what an apparently insignificant operation very- 
much of our immense progress in civilization has de- 
pended. I refer to tlie art of shoeing, by which, in arm- 
ing that portion of the horse's hoof coming in contact 
with the ground, and sustaining the whole weight, while 
it receives the full force of the propelling power, would 
(in our northern climate, at least) under the strain of load- 
bearing or draught, soon be destroyed, and the animal 
rendered useless, injury is not only averted, but the utility 
and power of the horse are largely increased. 

An art which has exerted some influence on the des- 
tinies of man, and lent its aid to the restless wave of 
human action, deserves some notice from those who care 
to note the sources and influences on which improvem.ent 
and increased communication have relied ; and if this be a 
modest one, it is at least endowed with all the more in- 
terest in consequence of its being so closely related to the 
conservation of the best qualities of the noblest quadruped 
on earth. 

In a state of nature the hoof requires no protection. 
The solidity and toughness of its inferior border ; the ab- 
sence of artificial roads ; nothing but the weight of the 
body to be supported ; and the matter of which the 
horny case is composed never being subjected to any 
other influences than those which it is naturally adapted 
to resist, all tend to obviate any injurious amount of attri- 
tion in the roaming-at-will life of the feral horse. But in 
connection with climate, domestication alters, more or 
less, the conditions on which the horn depends for its in- 
tegrity as an efficient protection to the highly sensitive 


and vascular textures it encloses. In eastern countries, 
where the climate is dry and the earth elastic and soft, 
and where the equine species is usually wiry and firm in 
its organization, with dense inflexible hoofs, an armature 
of any kind is seldom, if ever, required. Not unfrequently, 
however, we learn that the care and attention of the people 
who so employ horses is bestowed on the quality and re- 
sistance of the hoof; and as this has an important bearing 
on our inquiry, we will notice a few of the authorities who 
mention the fact. Thevenot informs us that the Persians 
cared little for shoes for their horses ; ' the Ethiopians, 
in the time of Ludolphus, although they seldom rode, 
did not employ any defence for the hoofs, and Vv^hen 
they had to travel over rough and stony ground, they dis- 
mounted and sat on the backs of mules, leading their 
horses in hand, so that these might tread lighter, and do 
their hoofs less damage. 'They do not defend their 
horses' hoofs with iron shoes ; if they travel over rough 
and uneven ground, they lead them, and ride mules.' - 
The same authority asserts that the Tartars, who ride so 
much, never shod their steeds. ' In the winter time, 
when, on account of the frost, roads are rough and hard, 
they cover their horses' feet with the recently flayed hide 
of cattle, if nothing else is at hand.' ^ 

A recent traveller in Abyssinia states that the horses 

' Voyages, vol. ii. p. 113. Paris, 1684. 

^ Joh. Ludolplnis. Hist, ^thiopic, vol. i. cap. 10. * Ideo nee 
ungulas eorum soleis ferreis muniunt : si per aspera et salebrosa loca 
eundum lit, eos duciuit, ipsi mulis insidentes.' 

3 Ibid, in Commentario, p. 149, ' Tempore vero hyemis, viis ob 
gelu asperis et duris, corio houm, etiam rece?iti, si-aliud non suppetat, 
pedes equorum suorum involvunt.' 


and mules of that country are not shod/ The wandering 
Mongols who roam between the Great Wall of China, 
the desert of Gobi, and the Russian frontier, with their 
flocks of sheep and droves of horses and cattle, do not 
employ shoes for their hardy but uncouth solipedes, ac- 
cording to the account of my friend and fellow-traveller, 
Mr Michie. Whenever a pony selected from a drove has 
become footsore from being ridden too long a time, the 
rider dismounts, a fresh steed is caught from the crowd, 
and the hoof-worn one is set at large again, to recover as 
it best may the loss it has sustained. So that a traveller 
often requires to change his invaluable steed when crossing 
these inhospitable wilds. But in this there does not appear 
to be any difficulty, as an exchange can be readily effected 
by paying a slight difference to the nomadic owner of a 
drove, who knows that by allowing the lame creatures to 
pasture quietly for a few weeks, they will soon have re- 
placed the lost horn, and be as serviceable as ever. 

It would appear, however, that horses are sometimes 
shod here, but they may only be Russian ones. Tim- 
kowski in travelling through this country, and when at a 
halting-place, writes : ' While the smith was shoeing our 
horses, a lama, who kept walking about, and seemed very 
attentive to what he was doing, suddenly mounted his 
horse and galloped away. It was afterwards discovered 
that this priest had stolen one of the smith's tools.' ^ 

Marco Polo, in the 13th century, travelling in Badak- 
shan, says : ' The country is extremely cold, but it breeds 

' Mansjiehl Parkyns. Life in Abyssinia, vol, ii. See also Baker, 
Nile Tributaries in Abyssinia. Proc. Roy. Geo. Soc., 1866. 
'' Travels through Mongolia to China, vol. i. p. 188. 


very good horses, which run with great speed over these 
wild tracts without being shod with iron.' ' 

The Tanghans, or Tibetan ponies Hooker saw in the 
Himalayas, are described as w^onderfully strong and endur- 
ing. ' Tlieij are never shod, and the hoof often cracks 
and they become pigeon-toed.' ^ 

Horses are never shod in the Moluccas, or the Straits 
of Malacca. With regard to Java, Sir Stamford Raffles 
says : ' Horses are never shod in Java, nor are they secured 
in the stable as is usual in Europe and Western India. 
A separate enclosure is appropriated for each horse, within 
which the animal is allowed to move and turn at pleasure, 
being otherwise unconfined. These enclosures are erected 
at a short distance from each other, and with separate 
roofs. They are generally raised above the ground, and 
have a boarded floor.' ^ The same kind of floor is in use 
at Manilla. 

Lichtenstein remarks of the Cape of Good Hope 
horses, that, owing to their being accustomed from their 
youth to seek their nourishment upon dry mountains, 
they are easily satisfied, and '^ grow so hard in the hoofs 
that there is no occasion to shoe them.' "* 

Anderssen, describing some of his journeys in South 
Africa, says: ' On an after-occasion, I remember to have 
performed upwards of ninety miles at a very great pace, 
only once or twice removing the saddle for a few minutes. 
And be it borne in mind that the animals were young, in- 

' Narrative of the Travels of Marco Polo. London, 1849. P- ^34- 

* Himalayan Journals, vol. ii. p. 131. 

3 History of Java, vol. ii. p. 319. 

'^ Travels in Southern Africa, vol. ii. p. 27. London, 1812. 


differently broken in, unshod, and had never been stall- 
fed; ^ 

Dr Browne reports of the horses in Jamaica: ^They 
are generally small, but very sure-footed and hardy, which 
renders them extremely fit for those mountainous lands ; 
and their hoofs are so hard that they seldom require 
shoes ; but this is the effect of the heat of the country 
and dryness of the land.' ^ 

Iron shoes are not used for horses in Japan, and Head, 
in his ride across the Pampas of South America, tells us 
that shoes are utterly unknown to all the South Am_erican 
country horses. ' But even when unshod, the wear of 
their boundless plains, on which scarcely a stone is seen, 
is so insignificant, that to keep the hoofs of a proper 
length, they have even to be shortened by the hammer 
and chisel.' ^ Another traveller in that region asserts that 
the mule of the Peruvian Sierras, with its massy and well- 
rounded hoof, needs no shoes on hard or soft ground, in 
summer or in winter. 

Clark says of the north of Sweden : ' Neither the men 
nor their horses are shod, but go bare-footed. In some 
parts of Sweden, as at Naples, the hinder feet only of the 
horses are left unshodden ; but here horses of a beautiful 
breed were put to our waggon, without a shoe to any of 
their feet, as wild and fleet as Barbs ;' and again, when en- 
tering Finland from Sweden, he writes : ' The horses are, 
as usual, small, but beautifully formed, and very fleet. 
The peasants take them from the forests when they are 

' Lake Ngami, p. 339. 

" The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica, p. 487. London, 1756, 

3 A Ride Across the Pampas, p. 387. 


wanted for travellers, and, with very little harness, fasten 
them to the carriage. In this state, they are ivithout shoes, 
and seem perfectly wild ; but it is surprising to observe 
how regularly and well they trot.' ' Brooke, however, re- 
marks, that ' so dangerous are the wolves in some parts 
of Svv^eden that the peasants, on turning their horses out, 
generally tip their feet with iron, by which means of de- 
fence they are frequently enabled to beat off their fero- 
cious assailants.' ^ 

It is well known that in many southern regions there 
is but little need for any attempt at shoeing. The littoral 
of Libya, and some parts of Arabia and Persia, furnish ex- 
amples. In Tartary, whole tribes ride horses without 
shoes of iron, and in Senegal the French squadron of 
Spahis have no farriers, for the simple reason that they 
have no shod horses.^ In the East Indies, among some 
races shoeing is far from general. 

So we can easily understand, that in certain parts of 
the world, horses have been and can be made service- 
able to a certain extent without employing an iron de- 
fence. If one may judge from the paintings of Ancient 
Egypt and the sculptures of Assyria, where we see the 
horse portrayed with great skill, and with that minute 
perception of his external form which seems to us even 
now very remarkable, no protection for the hoof was e^xr 
had recourse to, and no remains of anything bearing a 
resemblance to such an appliance have been found. And 
though these countries were acquainted with many arts, 

' Travels in various countries of Scandinavia. London, 1838. 

- Travels in Sweden, p. 19. 

3 Megnin. Ferrure du Cheval, p. 8. 


and had attained a comparatively advanced state of civil- 
ization, in which the horse played no insignificant part, yet 
in the absence of this craft, even with their favourable 
climate and soil, the use of this animal must have been but 
limited, compared to what it is in our own days. It is 
only when we reach the period in wdiich the ancient Greeks 
begin to figure in history, that doubts and inquiries arise 
among modern investigators with regard to a real iron or 
other metal shoe being employed ; and for nearly two 
hundred years, various writers have spared neither time 
nor patience in attempting to arrive at some definite con- 
clusion as to whether or not the Greeks and Romans were 
cognisant of this art, or at what period it first became 

' ^- ^_ With the spread of civilization, the demands upon the 
services of the horse became, doubtless, very much ex- 
tended ; and the diversity of climate, as well as of races, 
would lead one to suppose that greater wear and modifica- 
tions, more or less wrought in the nature and consistency 
of the hoof, must at an early period have rendered some 
kind of defence absolutely necessarjn; and that this again 
would be mentioned in the writings of men who largely 
devoted their attention to the welfare of this animal. 

I Nev^ertheless, the antiquity of shoeing, notwithstanding the 
well-directed labours of many learned men, is yet a subject 
admitting of consider? ble diversity of opinion, simply be- 
cause of the absence of written documents, or records of a 
positive character, by which this art could be traced to its 
origin in any particular part of the world. 7 True, there 

' Among the principal writers who have occupied themselves in this 
investigation may be mentioned the following : — 


would not probably be much gain in finally deciding as 
to which race of the human family, or to what age, the 
successful utilization of the horse by arming its hoofs 
with a hard rim of metal is due ; and it would, perhaps, 
be more satisfactory and instructive to trace briefly the 
progress of the art from its earliest known introduction 
into the social economy of civilized nations, up to the 
present time, than attempt to seek its inventors in the 
perplexing obscurity surrounding this subject. But, as 
before noticed, the interest which attaches to all that per- 
tains to the horse, and particularly to the management of 
its feet, by those people who were among the first to dis- 
cover the beauties and merits of that noble animal, and 
to press its strength,' fleetness, courage, and endurance 

Raphael Fabretti. Syntagma de Columna Trajani. 
A. IFinckebnann. Description des Pierres Antiques Gravees, p. i6g. 
Florence, 1760. 

/. Pegge. Archaeologia, 1776. 

Beckmau. History of Discoveries and Inventions, vol. ii. London, 


Bourgelat. Essai Theorique et Pratique sur la Ferrure. 

Hazard. Theatre d' Agriculture, vol. i. p. 630. Paris, 1804. 

Bracy Clark. An Essay on the Knowledge of the Ancients re- 
specting the Art of Shoeing the Horse. London, 1831. 

T. D. Foshroohe. Encyclopaedia of Antiquities. London, 1840. 

An anonymous writer in United Service Magazine, 1849. 

C. H. Smith. The Naturalist's Library, vol. xii. p. 128. 

H. Bouleij. Dictionnaire Veterinaire, vol. vi. Art. Ferrure. 

H. S. Cuming. Journal Archaeological Association, vol. vi. xiv. 

F. Defays. Annales de M^d. Veterinaire, p. 256. Brussels, 1867. 

/. P. Megnin'. De I'Origine de la Ferrure du Cheval. Paris, 

La Marechalerie Frangaise. Paris, 1867. 

Nickard. Memoires de la Soc. Nationale des Antiquaires de France, 


into their service, is a great inducement to review, in as 
graphic a manner as possible, all that has been said in re- 
lation to the existence, non-existence, or status of this art 
among them. And in this inquiry the poet, painter, and 
sculptor have some interest, inasmuch as the correctness 
or incorrectness of their delineations, when this apparently 
trifling detail comes to be treated, will depend. This 
will be exemplified hereafter. 

It is a remarkable circumstance that, considering the 
mighty influence the horse has been called on to exercise 
on the destiny of nations and the progress of civilization 
from the earliest times, — at one period an important ad- 
junct to luxury, as well as a mainspring of utility ; at 
another, an essential element in the arts of peace, and a 
still more potent one in that of war, — the first written indi- 
cation of horse-shoeing (as we now understand the term) 
is only found in the annals of a comparatively recent 
period. The knowledge of being able to defend from un- 
due wear and injury such an important organ as the horse's 
foot, and by such an efficacious, yet simple means, one 
would think indispensable to those who, in primitive times, 
so largely employed horses, and sought from them such im- 
portant services. Such is not the case, however, if an en- 
tire omission of the fact in their vvritings or on their monu- 
ments be received as proof; and though several authors 
of some weight have in recent years asserted that the an- 
cients were acquainted with this art, and have adduced 
evidence which appears to substantiate their opinion, yet 
a careful examination of the times and the meaning of 
the texts has, in nearly every case, tended to lead others 
to the opposite conclusion. 


^ That shoeing was not known to Old Testament people, 
no one has yet, so far as I am aware, offered a doubt. 
Deborah' (b.c. 1296) sings, ' Then were th.e Aor^e-Zioo/i 
broken by the means of their prancings, the prancings of 
their mighty ones ; ' or, as it might perhaps more cor- 
rectly be rendered, 'Then did the horses' hoofs smite the 
ground, and were broken from the haste of their riders.' 
Isaiah ^ (b.c. 760), in the grandly prophetic language in 
which he foreshadows the downfall of Jerusalem by the 
armies of Rome, mentions the hoofs of their horses and 
what was esteemed their best quality. He says, ' Whose 
arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses'' 
hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a 
whirlwind.' And Jeremiah ^ (b.c 607), when foretelling 
the punishment of the Philistines, says : ' At the noise 
of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the 
rushing of his chariots.' 

It is in Homer (e.g. iooo) that we find some investi- 
gators contending for the first notice of a metallic foot- 
defence. Among these appear Fabretti, Bourgelat, Mont- 
fauqon, Cuming, and a few others. In reality, however, 
it was Eustathius, who lived in the 12th century, who, in 
his Commentaries on Homer, first speaks of that poet 
mentioning horses as shod. In the 'Iliad' (Book xi., 
lines 150-2) occurs the passage noted by Eustathius : 

TTt^ot fiEV TTE^ovQ oXe/coj' (j)£vyoPTaQ aiayi^r] 
Imvelg S' imrrjug — vwo Si (T(pi(nv oypro kovit] 
tfc Treciov, T))y lopaay eplyCovTTOi iroSei; 'imrojy. 

' Judges V. 22. " Isaiah v 28. 

3 Jeremiah xlvii. 


And this striking picture has been thus translated by a 
recent and celebrated scholar : 

' Foot on foot, and horse on horse : 
While from the plain thick clouds of dust arose 
Beneath the armed hoofs of clatt'ring steeds.' 

This it will be readily perceived is an error. The 
passage, literally rendered, ought to read something like 
the following : ' Foot on foot and horse on horse, they 
perished forcibly while flying ; and under them the dust 
arose from the plain, and the loud-sounding (crushing or 
thundering) feet of the horses raised it.' 

The word is spl-y^ouTroi. Another translator of the 
Iliad renders this passage : 

' Horse trod by horse lay foaming on the plain. 
From the dry fields thick clouds of dust arise. 
Shade the black host, and intercept the skies ; 
The brass-hoof d steeds tumultuous plunge and bound. 
And the thick thunder beats the labouring ground.' 

In another place (Book viii., lines 44-5) Bourgelat, 
Cuming, and others, found their opinion in favour of the 
Greeks having shod their horses at this early period, on 
the fact that Homer speaks of Jove's horses as 

' The Irazen-footed steeds 
Of swiftest flight, with manes of flowing gold.' 

The translation of -^ak-^QTroV ^tttto) is correct, and is 
rendered so by Chapman, an old versifier : 

'This said, his brasse-hou'd (brass-hoof'd) winged horse 
He did to chariot binde.' 

The ' brass-hoof was undoubtedly used by Homer in 
a metaphorical sense to denote firmness and solidity, not 


a hoof shod with brass ; it was meant to convey an idea of 
the really good qualities of the horn in those days, and 
which, not being garnished with a defence of brass or 
bronze, was ever in danger of being destroyed when of a 
weak nature. Besides, brazen-footed and solid or strong- 
footed (^potTspcovo^) appear to be synonymous terms ; thus 
(in Book xxii., lines 192-3) he sings of the time 

' When the sulid-fuoted horses fly • 
Around the course, contending for the prize.' 

And again (Book xxiv., line 33 1), strong-hoofed mules are 
mentioned. The terms were used for many purposes, 
but never as an indication of shod hoofs. Homer made 
Achilles and Stentor brazen-voiced.' Bulls, fabular stags, 
and horses, had solid or metallic feet. Thus Pindar ^ (b.c. 
520) tells us that Bellerophon was enjoined to sacrifice a 
strong-footed bull to the mighty encircler of the earth be- 
fore subduing the winged horse Pegasus; and we find that 
the Grecian heroes who went in search of the golden fleece 
would all have been destroyed by the brazen-footed bulls, 
from whose nostrils flames issued, had not Medaea inter- 
posed and driven away these taurine monsters belonging 
to King JExqs? Virgil "^ frequently mentions animals of 
various kinds with metal feet, and Ovid ^ also alludes to 
them oftener than once. And an older authority than 

' IHad, book v. 785. ^ Olynip. xiii. 

^ Ibid. Olymp. iv. : 

' His furious bulls, whose nostrils bright 
Flames of consuming tire diftused, 
Battering the ground with brazen tread.' 

^ ^neid, book vi. 803. 

^ Heroid. ep. xii. 93 : Metamorphosis vii. 105 : Apollonius, iii. 228. 


either of these, and next to Homer himself, the prophet 
Micah (b. c. 710), exclaims: 'Arise and thresh, O 
daughter of Zion : for I will make thine horn iron, and I 
ivill make thy hoofs brass : and thou shalt beat in pieces 
many people.' ' 

So that really there is no foundation for supposing 
that the words quoted bear any reference whatever to 
shoeing. Homer is very minute in some of his descrip- 
tions of horses, chariots, armour, and equipment, but 
there is nothing particular in his poem to lead any one 
to suspect that the steeds of his warriors were shod. 
Had they been so, or had he been aware of the art, we 
can scarcely doubt but he would have introduced some 
notice of it ; entering as he does into so many particu- 
lars about horses, which were, next to man, the chief 
figures in his word-pictures. For instance, he speaks of 
the method of securing horses ; Neptune's team was 
stabled in a cave 

' 'Twixt Tenedos and Imbro's rocky isle.' 

After driving the brazen-footed steeds through the sea, 
skimming the waves of blue, Neptune takes them to his 
retreat, then 

' Loosed from the chariot, and before them placed 
Ambrosial provender ; and round their feet 
Shackles of gold, which none might break nor loose. 
That there they might await their lord's return.'^ 

As Homer's famous epic describes the misfortunes 
and the siege of Troy, occurring about twelve hundred 
years before our era, it is important that the words sup- 
posed to denote shoeing be properly understood. 

^ Chap. W. 13. ^ Iliad, xiii. 41-^'J. 


A passage from the Greek poet Tryphiodorus has 
often been quoted to support the argument in favour of 
Homer's brazen-footed horses being provided with shoes ; 
and it has been asserted from this passage that shoes of a 
description similar to those now^ in use were known at the 
siege of Troy, because this poet, when speaking of the 
fabrication of the Trojan horse, mentions that the artist 
did not forget to put the metal or iron on the hoofs of 
that wooden machine, in order to make the resemblance 
more complete. It must be remembered, however, that 
Tryphiodorus flourished at some period between the third 
and sixth centuries of our era, when, as will be shown 
hereafter, this art was not unknown ; and as the poem is 
of comparatively modern date, he may have introduced 
imaginary shoes to make his picture more complete, just 
as some of the modern translators of the Iliad have done, 
but without the slightest authority, to prove that these 
were in use at the time of the war between the Greeks 
and Trojans. 

In his verses, however, I can find no proof of any such 
intention, nor any mention of an iron rim for the wooden 
horse's hoofs. 

A literal translation of the original Greek is as follows: 
' Then at length he finished the work, the hoofs appearing 
not without brass, and shone forth, being covered with 
tortoise-shell.' Dr Merrick,' who furnishes a Latin and 
English version, renders the passage thus : 

* To deck each hoof and grace the artist's skill. 
The clouded tortoise yields her polished shell.' 

There has been nothing more advanced, so far as I 

' Tryphiodorus, by Merrick. Oxford, 1742. 


am aware, to prove that the ancient Greeks were cogni- 
zant of hoof defences, as we now employ them, except the 
finding of a horse s hoof (of stone ?) in the ruins of the 
Parthenon. In alhiding to this, Mr Syer Cuming, who 
appears to have taken some interest in the subject, asks, 
'Does not Homer alUide to shoes when he speaks of 
" brazen-footed horses ?" {^ctkx.oirohBglnrTroi). Mr Cureton 
informs me that he has seen horse-shoes of bronze.' ' 

And at a later period he writes, ' Since the publication 
of my paper a few facts have come to light, which tend 
to prove in an eminent degree the assertion therein ad- 
vanced, namely, that the horses of the classic ages were 
shod in a similar way to those of our own day. At the 
time the paper was produced, we had little to countenance 
the idea that the early Greeks protected the feet of their 
steeds with metallic shoes, beyond the bare fact that some 
ancient horse-shoes of bronze were known to be in exist- 
ence, and the poetical mention of " brazen-footed horses" 
in the Iliad (viii. 41, xiii. 23). Within these few years, 
however, Mr Charles Newton, while Vice-consul at My- 
tilene, found among the fragments of the Parthenon, a 
horse's hoof with holes all around the inside, clearly indi- 
cating where a metallic shoe had been fastened, and it is 
quite unlikely that any such defence should appear upon 
a statue if a similar article had not been in actual use at 
the time.' ^ 

It must be confessed that the discovery of a horse's 
foot among the world-renowned ruins of the Parthenon, 
with what appeared to be holes all round the inside only, 

' Journal of the Archaeological Association, vol. vi. 
^ ^ Ibid. vol. xvi. 


is no indication whatever that a metallic shoe had ever 
been fastened to it. Had such an article been used, the 
ancient Greeks would have left us more indisputable proof 
than a few holes only round the inside of the hoof of one 
of their statues. The holes were doubtless made for 
some other purpose, and it is to be regretted that no de- 
scription beyond this is to be found. This, however, will 
be referred to hereafter. 

An allusion to lioofs of horses is frequently discovered 
in the Greek poets and writers of a later date than the 
days of Homer, but all negative the idea that they had any 
brass, bronze, or iron protection. Aristophanes (b.c. 427), 
for example, in his Comedy of the ' Knights,' makes the 
chorus address Neptune as the god 'who loves the noise 
of the hoofs of horses and their neighing.' Further refer- 
ence to the noise made by the hoofs of horses will be 
furnished when we speak of the Romans. 

The strongest evidence that shoeing was not prac- 
tised among^ the Greeks of this period, is to be found in 
the great attention paid to the nature and durability of 
the hoofs by horsemen and others, and this testimony one 
would think perfectly convincing. Of these we may 
select Xenophon, the celebrated Athenian General, in 
whose eloquent writings enough will be found to 
satisfy the most incredulous in this respect. This cele- 
brated cavalry officer appears to have carefully studied 
that animal's character and habits, and all the precepts he 
gives in his treatise on horsemanship are dictated with an 
amount of udsdom and humanity which has not, perhaps, 
been excelled since his day. The safety and comfort of that 
animal and his rider were ever before him, and his teach- 


ing wa5 principally directed to make the horse particularly 
adapted for war, as the importance of cavalry was begin- 
ning to be perceived by the Greeks in their contests with 
that nation of horsemen, the Persians. He displays great 
judgment when specifying the proper form and disposi- 
tion of parts which collectively make up the nearest ap- 
proach to a perfect horse, and markedly shows to what 
a high degree in that distant age this kind of knowledge 
was cultivated ; indeed, from his writing, we are led to in- 
fer, that in his time, and perhaps for long before, there 
were accomplished horse-breakers and public riding mas- 
ters, as well as men who were excellent judges of horses' 

Xenophon's instructions are well worthy of a place 
in every treatise on horses and horsemanship, and as his 
chief experience was no doubt derived while following 
the profession of arms, and during his command of the 
cavalry in conducting and covering the glorious retreat 
of the Ten Thousand Greeks from the interior of Persia, 
abundant opportunities must have presented themselves 
to justify him in afterwards urging on the attention 
of those who had the care of horses, the most scrupulous 
circumspection in the preservation of their hoofs ; thus 
strongly indicating that shoes were not in use. 
^> In advising as to the good ' points ' to be sought for 
in a horse, he employs the clearest terms to express his 
meaning. ' A person,' he says, ' may form his opinion of 
the feet by first examining the hoofs ; for thick (or strong) 
hoofs are much more conducive to firmness than thin 
ones ; and it must not also escape his notice whether the 
hoofs are high or low, as well before as behind ; for high 


hoofs (that is, concave or hollow-soled hoofs) raise what 
is called the frog (^sXiooua.) far above the ground ; and 
low ones tread equally on the strongest and weakest parts 
of the foot, like in-kneed men, or like cripples among 
men, who limp on parts which were never intended by 
nature to support them/ Simo ^ says that horses which 
have good feet may be known by the sound; and he says 
this with great justice, for a hollow hoof rings against the 
ground like a cymbal.' It is somewhat strange to find 
Markham, in the 17th century, laying stress on this 
sounding property of a good hoof: ' If a horse's hoofs be 
rugged, and as it were seamed one seam over another, 
and many seams ; if they be dry, full and crusty, or 
crumbling, it is a sign of very old age : and on the con- 
trary part, a smooth, moist, hollow, and ic ell-sounding hoof 
is a sign of young years.' ^ 

Xenophon continues : * As attention must be paid to 
the horse's food and exercise, that his body may be vigor- 
ous, so must care be likewise taken of his feet. Damp and 
smooth stable-floors injure even naturally good hoofs ; 
and to prevent them from being damp, they ought to be 
sloping ; to prevent them from being smooth, they should 

' Oi yojO -Kaytic ttoXv tCji' XewTijJv CiCKfjipovtrtv eig tuTroo/ar. fVftra 
ovhe TOVTO Zti Xaj'9cu'£U', irurtpov a'l oirXcii elati' v'ipi]\ai 7} raTrtircii, kciI 
tfiTrpocrdey, kuI oTriadei', 1) )(«^(jjXa/. a'l ju£i' yap v\pr]\ai Troppu) utto tov 
caTtidov ej^oi/fft tov ^^tX/^orct KaX(wfxirr]v^ at ^£ raiTEiyal ofioiuQ (^aivovai 
TU) Ti laj(^vpoTaTti), Kai tui /uaXavwrarw tov Trohog, &anip ol (i\aiao\ tSjv 
a»^epw7rwj'.— nEPI 'inniKHS, Ed. Leunc. p. 932. 

^ Simo, an Athenian, mentioned by Suidas and cited by Pollux, 
was, according to Pliny, the first who wrote on horsemanship. Some 
reference to him is made in a fragment of Hierocles, which is inserted 
in the De Re re terinarid of Simon Grynaeus. Basil, 153 ?• 

^' The Perfect Horseman, p. 129. London, 1655. 


have irregularly-shaped stones inserted in the ground (or 
be paved), and close to one another, similar to a horse's 
hoofs in size ; for such stable floors give firmness to the 
feet of horses that stand on them.' In alluding to groom- 
ing a horse out of doors, he continues : ' The ground 
outside the stable may be put into excellent condition, 
and serve to strengthen the horse's feet, if a person throws 
down in it, here and there, four or five measures full of 
round stones, large enough to fill the two hands, and 
each about a pound ( r ) in weight ; surrounding them 
with an iron rim, so that these may not be scattered ; for 
as the horse stands on these, he will be in much the same 
condition as if he were to travel part of every day on a 
stony road. 

Isaac Vossius observes on this passage, that Xenophon 
speaks of iron shoes trrspi lujT^ri^ris, where he directs the 
hoofs of horses to be protected with iron zrspi^rj^iba-ai 
(ridripou. This is the iron hoop to bind the stones. He 
also says that in an old manuscript of the Greek Hip- 
piatrics in his possession, which was illustrated with paint- 
ings, the mark.s and traces of the nails that pierced their 
hoofs were plainly seen. No reliance can be placed on 
this author's statements, unfortunately, for marks on a 
hoof in an old drawing are no great proofs of shoeing ; and 
besides, the strange construction he puts on Xenophon's 
words, furnishes another instance of how little he could be 
received as an authority on such a subject. He was re- 
markable for believing the strangest inconsistencies, and 
almost anything but the truth ; which caused Charles II. 
to say of him, ' This learned divine is a strange man ; he 
believes everything but the Bible.' 


The Greek warrior adds : ' A horse must also move 
his hoofs when he is rubbed down, or when he is annoyed 
with flies, as much as when he is walking ; and the stones 
which are thus spread about strengthen the frogs of the 
feet.' In another book he ' repeats the suggestion as to 
the improvement of the feet by this kind of pavement, 
and adds, ' He that makes trial of this suggestion will give 
credit to others which I shall offer, and will see the feet of 
his horse become firm.' The word SrpoyyuXoy^, here 
employed to denote firmness, has evidently the same 
signification as the Latin word te?-es : that is, something 
smooth, round, and of a proper shape, indicative of 
strength, soundness, and durability. 

It is curious to note a similar expression in use at the 
present day among the Arabs of the Sahara. 'The hoof 
round and hard. The hoof should resemble the cup of 
a slave. They walk on hoofs hard as the moss-covered 
stones of a stagnant pool. The frogs hard and dry. The 
frogs concealed beneath the hoofs are seen when he lifts 
his feet, and resemble date-stones in hardness.' ^ 

Furthermore, Xenophon says: 'Those horses whose 
feet are hardened with exercise, will be as superior on 
rough ground to those which are not habituated to it, 
as persons who are sound in their limbs to those who are 
lame.' In the same work, when treating of the duties 
pertaining to a commander of cavalry, he dwells on the 
necessity of attending to the horses' feet : ' You must pay 
attention to their feet, so that they (the horses) may be in 
a condition to be ridden even on rough ground, knowing 

' Hipparchicus, p. 611. 
' Diuiias : The Horses of the Sahara. 


that when they suffer from being ridden they become 
useless.' He also, in the treatise on horsemanship, speaks 
of the water used to wash the horses' legs as doing harm 
to the hoofs by, I suppose, softening them, as the spirit of 
his teaching was to keep them hard and dry. He makes 
no mention whatever of any defence for the horses' feet ; 
though he notices the fashion of defending the legs of 
soldiers by emhattai or leggings (sjajSarai), and in pass- 
ing them under the feet, he says, they might also serve as 
shoes. These may have been used in cases of emergency 
for horses, but nothing is said on this point. He specifies 
horse-armour and its value : ' Since, then, if the horse is 
disabled, the rider will be in extreme peril, it is necessary 
to arm the horse also with defences for his head, his 
breast, and his shoulders. But of all parts of the horse 
we must take most care to protect his belly, for it is at 
once a most vital and a most defenceless part ; but it is 
possible to protect it by something connected with the 
housings. It is necessary, too, that that which covers the 
horse's back should be put together in such a way that 
the rider may have a firmer seat (than if he sat on the 
horse's bare back), and that the back of the horse may 
not be galled. As to other parts, also, both horse and 
horseman should be armed with the same precaution (so 
that the armour may not chafe).' ' 

In a treatise on hunting, ascribed to this author, in 
speaking of the horse, it is remarked : ' Before the task is 
accomplished, he falls, the hoofs worn off.' ^ And in an- 
other work 3 he incidentally relates that certain people of 

' Hipparchicus, c. xii. - Stiirz, Lex. Xeiinph, CynegeUcon. 
3 De Cyri Min. Expedit., p. 328. 



Asia (Armenians ?) whom he saw, were in the habit of " 
tying sandals, or rather, drawing socks over the feet of their 
horses when the snow lay very thick on the ground, to 
prevent their sinking too deeply. ' The horses in this 
country were smaller than those of Persia, but far more 
spirited. The chief instructed the men to tie little bags 
(Kup Ava3) round the feet of the horses, and other cattle, 
when they drove them through the snow, for without 
such bags they sank up to their bellies.' 

This is the only m^ention made of a garniture for the 
feet of horses by the renowned author and soldier, and I 
am not aware of any recent writer mentioning this con- 
trivance in the uplands of Armenia. It may be remarked, 
however, that in Kamschatka the dogs employed to draw 
sledges or catch seals wear socks provided with small 
holes to allow the claws to protrude. These may to some 
extent not only protect the feet from injury, but also help 
to guard against sinking in the snow. Arctic travellers 
have likewise availed themselves of these appliances for 
their dogs.' 

The only Greek writer before the Christian era, after^ 
Xenophon, who alludes to a defence for the feet of animals ^ 
is Aristotle (b.c. 340). In describing the camel's foot, he 
writes : ' The foot is fleshy underneath, like that of a bear; 
wherefore, when camels are used in war, and become foot- 
sore, their drivers put them on leather shoes ('TIIOAE- 
OTSI Kao^arivaig).''- They were probably most frequently 

' See Beitriige zur Phys. Oekonomie der Russischen Lander. Berlin, 
1786. Captain Cook's Last Voyage, and the later Voyages of Arctic 

^ Hist. Animal, lib. ii. p. 850, 


made of raw hide or coarse cloth (as Ludolphus tells us 
the Tartars used cow-hide for their horses' feet), passing 
round the feet and up the legs, like a laced boot. They 
will be noticed hereafter as solea. 

Polydore Vergil (a.d. 1550), in his ' De Inventoribus 
Reruni,' informs us that the Thessalians were reported to 
have been the first who protected their horses' hoofs with 
shoes of iron. ' Hos quoque (Peletronios, qui Thessaliag 
populi sunt) primos equorum ungulas munire ferreis soleis 
coepisse ferunt.' ' This author, whose Latin was generally 
more elegant than his descriptions were faithful, does not 
give his authorities for this statement, which is unsup- 
ported by any proof of its correctness. In all likelihood, 
as Mr Pegge observes,^ he has misled himself by referring 
to Virgil, where that poet asserts that 

' The Pelian Lapithse 
Invented bits, and mounted on the back ; 
Broke horses to the ring, and made them spring 
Under the arm'd, and proudly pace the round.' ^ 

Vergil made a mistake, or allowed himself to be deceived, 
when he described these primitive people of North Greece 
as the inventors of horse-shoes. 

If we turn from the Greek writers who lived previous 
to our era, to the wonderful productions of the Greek 
sculptors, those divine works of art — those graceful chisel- 
lings portraying groups of men and horses, which are 

' Lib. ii. cap. 12, '^ Archaeologia, 1776. 

3 Georgics, iii. 115 : 

* Frena Pelethronii Lapithse gyrosque dedere 
Imposili dorso, atque equitem docuere sub armis 
Insultare solo, et gressus glomerare superbos.' 


' Not yet dead. 
But in old marbles ever beautiful,' 

we will find our suspicions as to the inaccuracy of those 
who assert that this people provided an armour for their 
horses' feet, more than confirmed. 

It must be remembered that the Greeks were the first 
true interpreters of nature. To this their physical organ- 
ization, their climate, but, perhaps, most of all their re- 
ligion, concurred to develop those principles of beauty 
that induce man to select from nature the forms and 
combinations which give the highest and most endurable 

The creations of these people, who, according to Pin- 

' Strew'd o'er their walls, their public ways. 
The sculptured life, the breathing stone,'' 

now that two thousand years have passed away, yet, and 
will ever, command the admiration of refined taste, speak- 
ing, as they do, to our imagination and understanding, 
while carrying with them the greatest beauty of proportion, 
the utmost simplicity and truth in design, and blending a 
harmony with a purity and regard for nature such as has 
never been surpassed. We recognize in their sculptures 
of horses that intense and astonishing expression of life, 
which none but the greatest artists are capable of bestow- 
ing on their imitations of nature, when teeming with 
vitality and action. Theocritus, two thousand years ago, 
was enraptured with these chisellings : 

* How true they stand, and move, and quite appear 
Alive, not wrought ! What clever things men are ! ' - 

' Olympic Ode, VII. "- Idyll xv. 8.3. 


Such a people must have loved the bold, dauntless 
courage of the horse, and while seeking to do its un- 
matchable powers justice in their poetry and adoration 
in their religion, they have testified to all posterity, by 
the unerring delineations of their chisels, the beauty and 
the grandeur of his form and disposition. We have an 
example of this in the Panathenaic frieze, where the 
horses are not only of exquisite beauty, but full of life 
and fire. No two out of the hundred and ten which are 
introduced are in the same attitude, and each is charac- 
terized by a different expression. Flaxman ever spoke of 
these horses with enthusiasm, and w-e cannot wonder at it. 
' The horses in the frieze in the Elgin collection,' he 
said, ' appear to live and move, to roll their eyes, to 
gallop, prance, and curvet ; the veins of their faces and 
legs seem distended with circulation ; in them are dis- 
tinguished the hardness and decision of bony forms, from 
the elasticity of tendons and the softness of flesh. The 
beholder is concerned with the deer-like lightness and 
elegance of their make, and although the relief is not 
above an inch from the background, and they are so 
much smaller than nature, we can scarcely suffer reason 
to persuade us they are not alive.'' 

The horses of Thessaly are there depicted as they 
exist at the present day, even to the characteristic large 
heads and thick necks.^ 

To say that they are exactly portrayed in every 
anatomical detail, is to declare nothing but the simple 
truth, and is sufiicient for our object. And yet the very 

' Lectures on Science, vol. iv. p. 104. 
' Do(//rr/I. Travels, vol. i. p. 339. 


closest scrutiny of the horses' feet in these marbles with a 
practised — ^might I add a professional — eye, leads to the 
unhesitating conclusion that they are exact copies of nature 
in every respect, but nature never adorned or protected 
by an iron or bronze furniture. So true do they appear 
to real life, that we can almost fancy the animals in their 
spirited movements have chipped their hoofs at the sides 
(or quarters) ; and they are of a shape and perfectness 
which one seldom sees in hoofs that have been shod for 
any length of time. 

These unrivalled relics of antiquity offer additional 
proofs that metal shoes were not in use. The ancient 
Greeks were very careful in representing the different 
costumes worn by the riders of these horses, even to the 
fashion of their foot covers. Not only this, but they 
had their marble statues adorned with metals in many 
instances, which again were not unfrequently gilt. ' For 
the fragments show that the weapons, the reins of the 
horses, and other accessories, were in metal, probably 
gilt.'' The horses appeared to have had bits in their 
mouths, and the holes yet remain at the commissures of 
the lips wherein they have been fixed ; but no evidence 
is to be found that any metal was attached to the hoofs. 
In a bas-relief of Castor and Pollux in the Townley gal- 
lery of the British Museum, instead of metal bridles for 
the two horses, red paint appears to have been used. No 
paint, however, is to be discovered on the feet of any 
horses to indicate that shoes were worn. 

In the Temple collection (case ^6) in the British 

' Description of the Collections of Ancient Marbles in the British 
Museum. Part IV. page 26. London, 1830. 


Museum, among bronze fragments of a statue and sacrificial 
implements, is a very perfect hind foot and pastern of a 
horse, from Magna Grascia. This is unshod, and from 
the shape and general appearance of the hoof, there can 
be no doubt that the original of this model had never 
been submitted to this badge of servile subjection, as old 
Gwillin has been pleased to designate the modern horse- 
shoe. And among all the relics to be found in this and 
other museums, nothing can be discerned that the most 
lively imagination would transform into a horse-shoe, as 
employed by the ancient Greeks. Weapons there are 
without number, articles belonging to religious and do- 
mestic requirements, armour and spurs for riders, armour 
and bits for horses, and in the British Museum are also 
two excellent specimens of muzzles for horses. Xenophon 
informs us that, in his day, the groom put on the muzzle 
{xr^[jt,og) when the horse was led from his stable to be 
groomed or exercised ; indeed on every occasion when 
he had no bridle on his head or bit in his mouth, to 
prevent his doing any mischief to other horses or to men. 
While it prevented the horse from biting it did not inter- 
fere with his breathing.' 

A civilized nation which prized the horse so highly, 
and so largely employed it in war and in the public 
diversions, could not but display its wisdom in providing 
everything for its comfort and well-being ; but it appears 
that the Greeks did not understand extending its utility 
by preventing undue wear of the hoofs and consequent 
lameness. All the paintings on vases and elsewhere re- 
present the horse with nude feet. 

' Xenophon, Hipp., chap. v. 3. Polhix, i. 202. 


The climate of Greece, it must not be forgotten, is 
dry, and favourable to the hardness and durability of 
horses' hoofs ; so that solipedes brought from the north or 
west, where their journeys would be of a limited character 
without shoes, may there acquire sufficient strength and 
cohesiveness in the horny box covering the inferior ex- 
tremity of the limbs, as to perform a certain amount of 
labour with no defence. 

Paul Louis Courier,' who translated Xenophon's 
treatise on horsemanship, was so pleased with his method 
of managing the feet of horses, that during the very brief 
campaign in Calabria in 1807, while with the army corps 
to which he belonged, he rode horses without shoes, and, 
as he believed, with advantage. In a note he adds : ' The 
ancients did not shoe their horses ; this is evidenced in all 
the writings and monuments they have left us, and we 
cannot be astonished that the people who, in so many 
different countries, do not know the use of shoes, should 
not yet have introduced them. The Tonguses, as well as 
the majority of the Tartars — the best and the most inde- 
fatigable horsemen in the world — scarcely work at all in 
iron ; and for that reason it is impossible for them to 
shoe their steeds. The Dutch at the Cape of Good Hope 
have little horses which are never shod, according to 
Sparmann. And M. Thunberg has made the same re- 
mark in the island of Java. Another traveller assures us, 
that at Mogador, and the west coast of Africa, all the 
horses journey without shoes, and Niebuhr says the same 
for those of Yemen. Pallas has seen the horses of the 
Kalmucks, which have small and extremely hard hoofs, 

' Traite de Xenophon sur I'Equitation. Pantheon Litteraire. 



ridden without any shoes, and the Cossacks' on the banks 
of the Ja'ik, he adds, are never shod.' 

Of the evil effects of prolonged marches, and conse- 
quent excessive wear of the undefended hoofs in the 
Greek armies, we find casual mention now and again in 
the early historians. Diodorus Siculus (b.c. 44) in one of 
his volumes, when describing the victories of Alexander, 
states that 'the hoofs of the horses, through ceaseless 
journeying, had been worn away, and the materiel of 
war was used up.' ' 

And Cinnamus speaks in the same strain of the war 
in Attalia. ' He ordered them to await the rest of the 
army in Attalia, and to look after the horses, for a disease 
to which they are liable had attacked their hoofs, and had 
done serious hurt.'^ 

In the account which Appian gives of the victory 
achieved by LucuUus over Mithridates, King of Pontus, 
at the siege of Cyzicum (b.c 73), we find that Mithri- 
dates sent part of his cavalry back to Bithynia, such as 
were useless, feeble from want of forage, and footsore or 
lame in consequence of their hoofs being worn out {xa) 

This description has been differently given by H. 
Stephanus (edit. Stephanus, 1592, p. 221), and this has 

' Diod. Siculus, lib. xvii. cap, 94, p. 233. Edit. Weissilingii. 
'Equorum ungulae propter itinera nunquam remissa detritae et armorum 
pleraque absumptae erant.' 

^ Edit. ToUii Traject. ad Rhenum, 1825. Lib. iv, p. 194. 'Caeteras 
copias manere in Attalia et equos curare jussit, nam malam cui est 
obnoxium equinum genus plantes pedum acciderat, graviterque effi- 

3 De Bello Mithrid. p. 371. Edit. Tollii. 


given rise to a serious mistake. His translation is as 
follows: 'Equos vero turn inutiles et infirmos ob inediam, 
claudicantesque solearum inopia, detritis ungulis, aversis 
ab hoste itineribus, misit in Bithyniam.' No such words 
as solearum inopia occur in the original text ; they are an 
interpolation by the learned translator without the faintest 
authority, and have led several writers of note to believe 
that horse-shoes were then in use : whereas the contrary 
may be inferred, for the horses, it is explicitly mentioned, 
were lame by the attrition of their hoofs ; which implies 
that horses were not shod. Montfauqon was led astray 
by this addition to the original account. He writes : 
' There are certain and undoubted proofs that the ancients 
shod their horses; thus much Homer and Appian say;'' 
and Fosbrooke^ remarks that ' an iron horse-shoe is men- 
tioned by Appian ; so that the conclusion from Xenophon's 
recommendation for hardening the hoof, that the ancients 
did not shoe beasts of burden, is too rash.' 

Subsequent to the Christian era, we find Arrian ^ (a.d. 
200) comparing the human body to a pack-ass — ovap/ov 
s77Ti<rEay[x£vov, and speaking of a kind of shoe for that 
animal : ' Orav s^slvo ovapiov fi, ra.7O^0(, yivsrai ^aT^ivapia 
Tou ovaploo, (r^ri[xarioL, uziTO^r^ixaTia, xpiSaij ^oprog. Some 
translators have rendered uzuo^ri^aria as ' ferreac calces ; ' 
but Didot, in his new Collection of Classical Greek authors, 
translates it as sparte^ calces : ' Si asselus est corpus, cetera 
freni erunt aselli, clitellae, sparteas calces, hordeum, foenum.' 

A.rtemidorus, in his Interpretation of Dreams, about 

' Antiquite Expliquee, vol. iv. p. 50. 
' Ency. of Antiquities. London, 1840. 
3 Comnientar. in Epictetum, lib. iii. 



the same period as Arrian, also speaks of a horse shod 
with a sock or shoe, uro-oSi^jaa, which was probably made 
of spartea, like the above. 

I find on a silver coin of Tarentum/ now in the 
British Museum, and struck, it is surmised, about b.c. 300, 
a curious representation of a horse and two men, which 
might, at the first glance, be supposed to be connected 
with our subject (fig. i). 

The horse is beautifully delineated, and admirably 
represents the breed then famous in this part of Magna 
Grascia. A groom or boy, nude as the horse attendants 
are generally represented on ancient Greek vases and 
sculpture, is seated on the horse's back, and strokes his 

' Tarentnra, the modern Taranto, an ancient town of Italy, in the 
kingdom of Naples, is bnilt on a small island, in the Gulf of Taranto, 
near Brindisi. It was founded b.c. 700, as a Greek colony, by Lace- 
daemonian Parthenii, the descendants of a people noted for their love of 
horses and excellent horsemanship. This city was one of the most 
flourishing and powerful of Magna Graecia, and was distinguished for 
its luxury and splendour, as well as for its encouragement of the fine 
arts. For a long time it resisted the Romans, but at last submitted to 
them, B.C. 272. The above drawing is twice the size of the coin. 


mane as if to soothe him, while another individual, also nude, 
holds up one of the fore feet, as if to apply a shoe. The atti- 
tude is very striking, and it would be interesting to discover 
why such a group should be represented on a coinage. 

It may be observed, however, that there is no instru- 
ment in the hands of the dismounted figure whereby to 
fasten on the shoe, if such be his vocation, and that his 
attitude is not a very convenient one. This is, never- 
theless, the posture assumed on the continent of Europe, 
and generally all over the East, by the workman who arms 
the hoofs, but then there is another person to hold up the 
limb. In this example he may be only trying on a shoe ; 
though the figure on the horse's back would not add to 
the facility with which this operation might otherwise be 
performed. I may mention that I have seen and heard 
of troop horses which, though otherwise tractable, would 
scarcely allow themselves to be shod unless a man were 
seated on their backs, stroking their ears and necks in the 
manner shown on the Greek coin ; and Caesar Fiaschi,^ 
in the fifteenth century, recommends for horses that will 
not be shod quietly, that ' mots plaisants ' be used, and 
'faire mettre un cavalier sur le dos.' It has been sug- 
gested that a stone is being removed from the sole ; but 
without shoes it is almost, if not quite, impossible that a 
stone could lodge in the foot. Might he not be fastening 
on a temporary shoe or sock ? 

Beyond the illustration this affords, we have no evi- 
dence of shoeing among the Greeks ; and, after all, this 
may be only an allegorical representation, or a reference 
to some mythological subject. 

' Marechalerie. 3rd French edit., cap. 29. Paris, 1563. 




POLLUX. Diocletian's edict, hoof instruments, apsyrtus, 


The Romans began to use the horse at a very early 
period, but not with much advantage until seven hundred 
years after he had been introduced into Greece ; so that 
the Greeks were well advanced in the management of that 
animal, and skilled in its employment long before the 
Romans. For this reason it is that we find much in the 
writings of the latter that was borrowed from the older 
civilization ; while their system of equitation and general 
care of the horse was altogether Grecian. During a long 
time, and even up to a comparatively late date, the army 


on which the Romans depended for their conquests was 
mainly composed of infantry — they were not an equestrian 
nation. But, by degrees, they began to perceive the 
advantages of cavalry, and during the period when Rome 
was mistress of the world, and even before, many of the 
Roman battles were specially planned with a view to the 
operations of that arm. We can trace on and on, through 
the history of the Empire, a growing regard for, and 
dependence on it. Then it played a most important, and 
in most cases a decisive, part in their battles, as the num- 
ber of horses and horsemen began to be increased. 'A 
storm of horse' was the language of Antonius, for the 
brilliant charge of cavalry against an enemy.' 

But their country, and particularly their capital, was 
in general more humid than Greece, and their horses 
more lax in fibre, consequently softer-hoofed. Their 
legions, scattered in many regions of the world, were 
brought into contact with nations of horsemen, living 
and fighting on the backs of small, agile, hard-footed 
steeds, inured to incessant fatigue. 

Though mounted on stronger animals, the Roman 
cavalry could m^ake but little impression against that of 
Persia and Arabia. The faculty of moving quickly, and 
coming down in a flying cloud of skirmishers, as well as 
rapid retreating and rallying, always assured the superiority 
of the Numidian and Parthian horse when contending 
against the heavy infantry and cavalry masses of the 

Dureau de la Malle offers the following reasonable re- 
marks with regard to this subject: 'The durability of the 

' Tacitus, lib. iii. cap. ^2. 


hoof for a cavalry not shod was an indispensable condition. 
It appears that the Parthian horses, bred in the plains of 
Mesopotamia, were not provided with shoes, and this fact 
alone explains why, in the wars with the Romans, the 
Parthian armies, almost entirely formed of cavalry, and 
always victorious in their sandy deserts, melted away or 
suddenly disappeared when they had pursued their adver- 
saries into the mountainous and volcanic regions of Ar- 
menia, which are covered with obsidian and sharp stones ; 
it was simply because the Parthian or Persian horses were 
not shod. The absence of a protection to the horn ex- 
plains why — and I believe that this fact has not yet been 
remarked or appreciated at its just value — the Ten Thou- 
sand Greeks, in their retreat after the battle of Cunaxa, 
and of Mark Antony and Julian, falling back on Armenia 
and its mountains after their defeat in the plains, were able 
to escape from the numerous Persian and Parthian cavalry 
which incessantly pursued them.' ' 

If the Greeks were unacquainted with the art of 
attaching a rim of metal or other hard substance to the 
part of the hoof brought into contact with the ground, it 
might be expected that the Rom.ans who imitated them 
so closely in equestrian matters would not, at any rate for 
some time, be in a position to devise anything of the 
kind ; and that, as a consequence, the utility of the horse 
must have been as limited as with the Grecians. And 
such would appear to be the fact. When nearly all the 
arts had attained a high degree of perfection, the one in 
question, which would have been of the greatest assist- 

* Megnin. Op. cit. p. 9. — Notice siir les Races Domest'ujues des 
Chevaux. Moniteur Universe!, March 16, 1855. 

PLINY. 41 

ance to the conquering armies of Greece and Rome, was 
yet, it seems, unknown to them. Of this, in their writings, 
we have apparently ample evidence. 

We have similar injunctions and observations with 
regard to the care and quality of the hoofs, and to their 
being uncovered, as well as to the injuries sustained in 
travellmg, as we had from the Greek writers. No author 
mentions metal plates for horses' hoofs fastened on with 

Pliny (a.d. 60) is very minute and circumstantial in 
his history of discoveries, and in other portions of his 
writings. He tells us that Tychius, the Boeotian, first 
invented or taught the art of making shoes for the feet 
of men, and enumerates many other discoverers ; but 
nothing whatever as to the invention or employment of 
horse-shoes, though he speaks of the introduction of 
bridles and saddles by Pelethronius, and the people of 
Phrygia as being the first to use chariots. With regard 
to the camel, however, he follows Aristotle closely in his 
description of that animal's foot, and the way in which it 
was then protected : ' The camel has pastern bones like 
those of the ox, but somewhat smaller, the feet being 
cloven, with a slight line of division, and having a fleshy 
sole, like that of the bear ; hence it is, that in a long 
journey the animal becomes fatigued, and the foot cracks, 
if it is not shod {calceatu)! ' 

The term employed by the Roman naturalist to 

' Hist. Naturalis, lib. xi. cap. 106. ' Camelo tali similes bubulis, 
sed minores paulo. Est enim bisculus discrimine exiguo pes imus, 
vestigio carnoso^ ut ursi ; qua de causa in longiore itinere sine calceatu 
fatiscunt.' Edit. Gabriels Brotier. London, 1826. 


designate shoeing is referred to in a foot-note in the 
edition of his writings from which this paragraph is ex- 
tracted : ' Quam ob causam, inquit Philos. loc. cit. in 
bellicis expeditionibus, carbatinis calceantur, cum ipsis 
pes dolet. Est autem xap^anvr) vile et rusticum calcea- 
mentum, una sappactum solea.' The Mongol Tartars, as 
I have before noticed, seldom if ever shoe their ponies, 
chiefly, perhaps, because of the scarcity of iron, their 
peripatetic mode of life, and the large numbers of these 
animals they always have to select from ; but perhaps also 
as much from the presence of camels in their droves of 
animals, and which are their principal beasts of burthen. 
In consequence of these creatures being able to traverse 
the dreary steppes of Mongolia without suffering much 
injury, they are preferred ; and in thus economizing the 
labours of the Jiorse, they diminish the need for shoeing 
it. According to M. Hue,' however, the camel in that 
distant region is not exempt from some of the evils which 
are incidental to the unshod feet of horses ; and he relates 
that, after a long journey, when this most useful creature 
has become footsore, the Tartars make sheepskin shoes 
for it. 

My friend Mr Michie, who has travelled overland 
from Peking to Siberia, across the desert of Gobi, tells 
me that whenever a camel's feet have become tender from 
long journeying, it assumes the recumbent position ; and 
this being observed by the driver, an examination is at 
once made of the soles, when, if the thick cuticle which 
covers these pads is found raised and looking white- 
blistered, as it were, shoeing is determined on. This is 

' Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China, in 1844-5-6. 


accomplished as follows. Two or three strong Mongols 
watch their opportunity, and when the creature is still 
reposing and off its guard, they make a simultaneous rush 
upon it, throw it on its side, and in a few seconds of time 
secure it ; then with much dexterity a square piece of 
leather, large enough to cover the bruised place, is applied, 
and nimbly, yet firmly stitched ivith a slightli/ curvec 
needle to thefoot^ tlii'ough the thick skin of the sole. After 
this the beast is able at once to resume its toil. 

This is bold treatment, and eminently suggestive of 
that originality which must have prompted the desperate 
attempt, when made for the first time, to nail a rim of 
iron to the horse's foot. The one appears at first sight as 
hazardous as the other, and were we still ignorant of the 
art of nail-shoeing, I fear many of us would be incredulous 
if told that it was practised by other nations, 

Roman writers on agriculture and other subjects are 
silent on that of shoeing, as it is now understood ; though 
from the general minuteness with which they treat all 
details connected with their studies, had they not been 
unconscious of it altogether, it must, one cannot help con- 
cluding, have received at least some passing allusion. 
Nearly all, however, speak of the deperdition of the hoofs, 
and the qualities they should possess to enable them to 
withstand wear. 

Marcus P. Cato, commonly designated the Censor 
(b.c. 234-149), says nothing in reference to this matter in 
his ' De Re Rustica.' 

Marcus Varro (b.c 60), in his celebrated work, when 
advising as to the choice of a horse, says : ' It ought to 
have upright, straight, and symmetrical limbs, round 


knees, not too large, nor yet inclining inwards, and 
hard hoofs,' ^ showing that the latter were an essential 
quality in unshod horses. He also asserts that the hoofs 
are injured by standing in manure, as the horn thereby 
becomes softened.^ 

Q.. F. Horace (b.c. 30), in one of his famous satires, 
alludes to the mode of buying horses as practised by a 
certain class in his day. 'This is the custom with men 
of fortune ; when they buy horses they inspect them 
covered : that if a beautiful forehand (as very often hap- 
pens) be supported by a tender hoof, it may not take in 
the buyer, who may be eager for the bargain, because the 
back is handsome, the head little, and the neck stately. 
This they do judiciously.' ^ And the same author, in one 
of his admirable Odes, alludes to the sound caused by 
the horses' unshod feet on the smooth flagstones of their 
wonderfully paved roads, and in a sense similar to that 
noticed in the Greek writers already quoted : ' And the 
horseman will beat the streets of the city with sounding 

It is interesting to note, that the poetical epithet 
of 'sounding foot.' is almost constantly applied to the 
horse by various writers, at this and a later period. For 
example : ^ 

Virgil (b.c 20) in the Mndd, exclaims, ' Infatuate ! 

' De Re Rustica. ' Cruribus rectis et equalibus, genibus rotundis 
nee magnis, nee introrsum spectantibus, ungulis duris.' Lib. ii. p. 306. 
Edit. Gesner. 

" ' Ne sternis comberat ungulas cavendum.' Lib. ii. eap. 7. 
3 Book ii.. Satire 2. 

^ Et urhem 

Eques sonante verbernbit uvgula. 


who, with brazen car, and the prancing of his horn-hoofed 
steeds, would needs counterfeit the storms and inimitable 
thunder.' ' And again : ' Their acclamations rise ; and, 
a squadron formed, the hoof beats with trampling din the 
mouldering plain.' ^ In another place he also alludes to 
the favourite epithet by which this animal was popularly 
known to the Roman — that of Soiiipes. ' On its sound- 
ing hoofs the horse stands, and impatient champs the 
foaming bit.' ^ 

In the Georgics, when he wishes to point out in a 
particular manner, one of the most cherished qualities in 
the noble animal he so beautifully describes in that poem 
— the density and shape of the external covering of the 
foot,— he eloquently says of the war-horse : ' With his hoof 
of solid and deeply-resounding horn, he hollows out the 
earth.''^ Or as Sotheby more poetically expresses it, 

' earth around 
Rings to the solid hoof that wear the crround.' 

Virgil mentions the wheels shod with iron as ferati 
orbes, but makes not the most distant allusion to a like 
garniture on hoofs. 

And M. A. Lucan (a.d. 60) in his poem ' Pharsalia,' 
frequently mentions the nature of the horse's feet. For in- 
stance, when speaking of the horses belonging to Curio's 

' Book V. 592-4, "" Book viii. 596-8. 

3 Book iv. 135. ' Stat sonipes, ac frena ferox spumantia mandit.' 
Another example is found in the same poem : ' Quo sonipes ictu furit 
arduus altaque jactat,' 

^ Book iii. 88,— 

' Cavatque 
Tellurem, et solidus graviter sonat unguJa cornu.' 


detachment, which had fallen into an ambuscade when 
attacking the Numidians, he says : ' Not there did the 
charger, moved by the clanging of trumpets, shake the 
rocks with the beating of his hoof. .... Nor avails it 
any one to have cut short the delay of his horny-hoofed 
steed, for they have neither space nor force for the onset.'' 
And referring to an incident in the campaign which cul- 
minated in that important engagement, it is written : 
' Pompey care deters, by reason of the land being ex- 
hausted for affording fodder, which the horseman in his 
course has trodden down, and with quickened steps the 
horni/-hoofh.3.s beaten down the shooting field.' ^ 

The poet Claudianus, three centuries later, addressing 
the Emperor Honorius, in one of his epigrams exclaims, 

' O felix sonipes cui tanti fraena mereri 

Even so late as the 12th century, Fitz-Stephens, when 
describing London, and the excellent quality of the horses, 
remarks, 'Cum talium sonipedem cursus imminet,' etc. The 
expression was, doubtless, borrowed from Virgil, or some 
of the old Latin poets. And yet later, the characteristic 
designation is alluded to, for Ludwig Carrio, in comment- 
ing on Leutprand's Chronicle, quotes an old verse, a line 
of which runs : ' His parvus sonipes, nee marti notus.' 

Though the appellation may be traced to the Greeks, 
yet it has been surmised that it had its origin with the 
Romans, from the circumstance that in consequence of 
their not knowing how to protect their horses' feet in a 
substantial manner, they were compelled to construct their 
roads to accommodate the unarmed hoof; thus were formed 

' Book iv. 749-67. ' Book vi. 

'SOUNDING feet: 47 

those mighty works which surpassed all the other monu- 
ments of this people. Made at immense labour and ex- 
pense, they extended, it may be said, from the Pillars of 
Hercules, through Spain and Gaul, to the Euphrates and 
the most southern parts of Egypt. Everything was sacri- 
ficed in their construction ; hills were sometimes perfor- 
ated, and mountains and great rocks were deeply cut for 
their passage, as at Terracina. Those of Italy, if we are 
to judge by their remains, were the best made ; the Ap- 
pian Way is perhaps the most solid. These admirably 
formed highways were elaborately and curiously built. 
The centre, being subjected to the greatest amount of 
wear, was higher than the sides, and consisted of strata of 
sand, gravel, and excellent cement, overlaid by the pave- 
ment, in the form of not very large flat stones, laid 
close together and firmly bound by the cement, thus 
making a hard smooth causeway. Near Rome the flags 
were of granite. From their very even surface, and their 
passing between banks, mounds, and through valleys, the 
hard hollow hoofs of prancing steeds would sound loud 
enough, when compared with the noise made by other 
quadrupeds. Hence the epithet of ' sounding feet ' was 
very appropriate, and naturally suggested itself, according 
to Bracy Clark. 

Montfauqon says the surface was very smooth, like 
glass, a circumstance which must have made the horses 
in wet weather slide about very much ; even in the best 
weather, travelling must have been uncommonly slow, 
had horses worn iron shoes, because of their slipperiness. 
Besides, they would not have lasted nearly so long, and so 
far as I can ascertain there are no traces of horse-shoe 


wear to be discovered on their surface — a fact worthy of 
notice. The Romans travelled very fast on them, so well 
adapted were they, all things considered, for the preserva- 
tion of the horses' hoofs. 

Towards the Christian era, Augustus introduced cou- 
riers {puhlici Cursor es, or T^eredarii) to forward the public 
despatches, and along these roads government post-houses 
{mutationes) were erected at intervals of five or six miles, 
and each was constantly furnished with forty horses. By 
means of these very frequent relays, no doubt necessary 
where the hoofs were exposed to damaging attrition, it 
was possible to travel a hundred miles a day. 

About a century before our era, Cicero received at 
Rome, on the 28th September, a letter dated in Britain 
the first day of the same month. Considering the passage 
by sea, and crossing the Alps, or making a wide detour to 
avoid this troublesome mountain range, the twenty-six 
days appear a remarkably short space of time to travel 
this distance in. And three hundred years later, during 
the reign of the Emperor Theodosius, Cassarius, an im- 
portant magistrate, travelled from Antioch to Constan- 
tinople, a distance of 725 Roman (66^ English) miles, in 
six days. 

At Terracina, where a stony ridge is cut through to a 
depth of 26 feet to form the public way, the glassy surface 
of this rocky thoroughfare is grooved {sillonne) trans- 
versely, so that the horses might have foot-hold. 

It may here be noticed that at Tempe, by the side of 
the Peneus, the highway is excavated in the rock, but is 
so steep and rugged, that possibly to save their horses' 
hoofs, as well as to prevent their tumbling into the river. 


the Greeks scooped out resting-places or wide steps to 
diminish the risks attending a descent/ 

We will return again to the Roman authors. 

L. J. M. Columella of Cadiz (a.d. 40), a writer well 
acquainted with the science of his day, and a scholar, 
gives us an admirable outline of veterinary medicine as 
it was then known to the Romans ; and his influence on 
the development of this department of the healing art has 
been very great. In one of the twelve books of the ' De 
Re Rustica,' still in existence, he alludes to the stable 
management of a country villa in the following terms : 
' The master should frequently go into his stable, and 
should be particular in observing that the floor of the 
stalls is sufficiently high in the centre, and not made of 
soft wood, as ignorance or negligence often makes it. 
The floor should be made of hard oak-plank closely laid ; 
for this kind of wood hardens the hoofs oj' horses and makes 
them like stones' ^ 

It is somewhat remarkable that, as already observed, 
in Java, where horses are unshod, they are kept standing 
on hard-wood floors without any straw or other soft sub- 
stance between the boards and their hoofs ; and at Singa- 
pore and Manilla — places I visited in i860 — all the 

' See Montfau9on, ' Antiquite Expliquee,' vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 177; 
Bergier, ' Hist, des Grands Chemins de 1' Empire Romaine,' livre ii. 
chap, i.j Procopius, 'Hist. Arcana,' cap. 303 Libanius, ' Orationes/ 22, 
and ' Itineraria,' pp. 572-81. 

^ Lib. i. p. 73 ; edit. Manheim. * Diligens itaque dominus stabulum 
frequenter intrabit, et primuni dabit operam, ut stratus pontilis emineat, 
ilsuuKjue sit non ex moUibus lignis, sicut frequenter per imperitiam vel 
negligentiam ev'enit, scd roboris vivacis duritia et soliditate conipactum j 
nam hoc genus hgni equorum ungulas ad saxoram instar obdurat.' 



horses are made to stand on planks raised above the 
ground, in order, I suppose, that the undefended hoots 
may be kept dry and hard. 

In selecting horses, Columella recommends that they 
should have '^ hard, upright hoofs, hollow in the sole, 
and round, with medium-sized coronets.' ' Elsewhere he 
advises that the foal should be taken from its dam when 
a year old, and pastured among the mountains and in 
other exposed or inhospitable places, ' so that the hoofs 
may be hardened to resist wear, and then become fitted 
for long journeys.' ^ 

And Pliny, about this period, observes, in speaking of 
mules, ' They are produced by an union between the 
mare and the domestic ass ; they are swift, and have 
exlremely hard feet^. ^ 

Julius Pollux, a Greek, and the favourite and pre- 
ceptor of the Emperor Commodus, in whose reign he 
died (a.d. 238), has left us, in one of his works,'* some ex- 
cellent maxims concerning horses. Indicating the par- 
ticulars in which a good horse differed from a bad one 
he maintains that it is more especially in the nature of 
their feet. ' A corpore quidem ungulse cavae, ut scilicet 
quam vocant testudinem, elata sit, ne in solum impingens, 
molestetur : hujusmodi enim ungula (ut Xenophon inquit) 

' Lib. vi. p. 50. ' Duris ungulis et altis, et concavis rotundisque, 
quibus coronae mediocres superpositae sunt.' 

" Ibid. p. 63. 'Ut ungulas duret sitque postea longis itineribus habilis.' 

^ Hist. Natural. ' Generantur ex equa et onagris mansuefactis 
inulae velocis in cursu, duritia, eximia pedum.' 

* Oaomasticon, lib. i. cap. 11 ; De Corpore et Animo Equi Boni 
et Mali. 


cymbali instar ad solum resonat.' A bad horse was known 
by the inferior quality of its hoofs and their softness, 
' mollis ungulas ; ' while a good one should have them 
' carnefc plenea:;.' It will be observed that he refers to 
Xenophon ; he also follows him in recommending a stable 
paved with large round stones to harden the feet. In this 
work, he mentions every article of horse-furniture then in 
use, but is silent with regard to that for the hoofs. 

In 1 827, an edict of the Emperor Diocletian, supposed 
to have been promulgated about a.d. 300, was discovered. 
It fixes the maximum rate of wages and price of provisions, 
and two passages in it give us an idea, not only of the 
functions and emoluments of the individual who minis- 
tered to the requirements of sick animals, but also affords 
another proof that the hoofs of solipedes were not shod. 
The mulomedicus who clipped the hair and trimmed 
the hoofs, was to receive for each animal six denarii ; 
and for currying and cleansing the head, twenty denarii.'' 
Had shoeing been known or practised, it must have 
been mentioned in such an edict as this. And here 
we may notice, in connection with this hoof-paring 
among the Romans, that Bonanni has given drawings 
of two iron objects found at Rome, near the Castra 
Peregrina, which Montfauc^on ^ reproduces as ancient 
Roman instruments of farriery. One, he notes, is like 
the present houtoir or boiitavan of the French mareclial 

' Martin Leahe. Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, 
vol. i. p. 196. ' Mulomedicus tonsurae et aptaturae pedum.' ' Eidem 
deplecorae et purgaturae capitis.' 

' Vol. iii. lib. v. cap. 5, pt. 5. Plate 197. 

4 * 


ferrant, and the other has been intended to remove 

the horn and in- 
cise it in cases of 
disease (fig. 2). 

These are the 
only relics ot 
Roman farriery I 
have been able to 
trace ; and their 
having been found 
fig. 2 at the capital of 

that empire, would show that the hoofs required paring 
and dressing, and that this was of frequent occurrence, 
since the mulomedicus w^as bound to be satisfied with a 
fixed price for performing that duty. Vegetius recom- 
mends the employment of such instruments. 

Apsyrtus (a.d. 330 — -340), a Greek of the Byzantine 
empire, and one of the most renowned veterinarians of 
this period, who was employed in the army of Constantine 
the Great, says that those horses which have a small frog 
are swift of foot and valuable ; ' and those which have their 
frogs growing close and small were best for work.^ Lead- 
ing us to infer that those horses which had wide flat soles 
and prominent frogs, being unshod were liable to become 
lame from bruises to these parts. 

Palladius Rutilius Taurus vEmilianus (a.d. 300 — 400) 
advises that strong oaken planks be laid down as a floor- 
ing for stables, and that straw be laid over them at night 

' Apsyrtus, Scrip. Graec. Vet. p. 2152. Xekilm'a It jjiiKpar 'ix^orrf.c 
finrodtc Kftl ayadoL 

' Ibid. O'l av^(pvt~iQ i:uTii)d£i' Ka\ ■)^t\ih6i'a<: nif:p<ig t)(^orTtQ. 


only, so that it might be soft for the horses when resting, 
and hard for their hoofs when standing.' 

Publius Vegetius Renatus (a.d. 450 — 510?)% a veteri- 
narian, has left us the most complete treatise on veteri- 
nary medicine of any ancient writer. He describes more 
fully than any other Roman hippiatrist the maladies and 
accidents to which horses w'ere liable in his day ; and 
though he speaks of contracted tendons, horses and mules 
walking on the fronts of their hoofs, and the casual- 
ties these animals are exposed to, as well as the method of 
curing them, yet he says nothing of shoeing (in a modern 
sense), either as producing disease or injuries, or as a 
means of remedying these. 

When treating of the hoofs and the feet generally, 
however, it is plainly intimated that such a practice as 
nailing on iron plates was not available in his age. He 

' Scrip. Rer. Rustic, edit. Schneider, vol. iii. 

- There is much uncertainty with regard to the period in which 
Vegetius hved. Nothing whatever is known of him, and his writings 
alone offer evidence as to the date about which they were composed. 
Eichenfeld thinks he lived in the second century, and Sprengel, in his 
History of Medicine, carries him forward to the twelfth century, while 
others have placed him at various periods between these two extremes. 
A recent writer, M. Megnin (Recueil de Med. Veterinaire, 1867, p. 803), 
gives what is termed a mathematical demonstration that Vegetius knew 
the art of horse-shoeing, and that he lived and composed his work in 
A.D. 94^. He partly founds his demonstration on Lebeau's ' Histoire 
du Bas-Empire,' in the chapter in which reference to Constantine VH. 
is made. According to M. Megnin, the reason why Vegetius did not 
speak of shoeing, was because he did not wish to do so (c'est qu'il n'a 
pas voulus et qu'il la connaissait parfaitemenl). For lack of better evi- 
dence than is here adduced, I think it will be preferable to follow 
Heusinger, and retain the date I have given above. Niebuhr (Mero- 
baudes, p. 12) found at St Gallen some short fragments of a very old 
codex, (palimpseste) which were ascribed to Vegetius, and supposed to 


says : ' By the ruggedness of roads, and long journeys, the 
hoofs of animals are worn out, and hinder their walking. 
(AnimaUum uuguUe aspentate ac longitudine itinerum 
deteruntur et impediunt incessum, etc.) From a twisting 
or contusion also, if horses or mules be forced to gallop 
or run on a rugged or stony road, bruises and chafings 
arise; lastly, though no cause has preceded, when they 
stand idle in the stables, they begin to halt and go lam.e. 

You shall foment the feet that are bruised and 

worn underneath with warm water.'' After a journey, it is 
recommended that the horses' feet ' be carefully washed 
and examined, lest any clay or mud remain about their 
joints and soles. They must also be rubbed with oint- 
ment, that their hoofs may be nourished, and that what 
horn the journey has worn away may, through the virtue 
of the medicament, grow up again.' He then gives various 
prescriptions for applications which nourish the hoofs and 
make them firm. These were to be rubbed in around 
the coronets and over the feet. At the wane of the 
moon ' the soles and hoofs of the animals must be trimmed 
with a paring iron, which allows the heat to escape, cools 
and refreshes them, and makes their hoofs the stronger.' '' 
'It is a more prudent counsel to preserve the soundness 
of horses' feet, than to cure any disorder in them ; but 

have been written in the seventh or eighth century. The codex of 
Corbey belongs to the ninth century. From the quotations afforded 
above, it will be seen that he could not have known anything regarding 
shoeing with nails, otherwise he could not avoid mentioning it. As 
will be noticed hereafter, this art was practised at Constantinople 
before 945. 

^ Vegetii Renat'i. Artis Veterinariae. Lib. ii. cap. 55. Basil, 1528. 

"" Lib. i. cap. 56. 


their hoofs are strengthened if the horses or mules stand 
in a very clean stable, without dung or moisture, and if 

their stalls are floored or laid with oaken planks 

You must remember that the hoofs are renewed by grow- 
ing, and therefore after a certain number of days, or every 
month, such care ought not to be wanting, by which 
the weakness of nature is assisted and amended.' In an- 
other place, speaking of the stable and stalls, he closely 
follows Columella. ' A careful master must go frequently 
into the stable. In the first instance, take care that the place 
where they stand and lie be raised higher than the other 
parts of the floor, and that it be compactly made — not of 
soft wood, as frequently happens through unskilfulness or 
negligence, but of solid, hard, lasting oak, well put to- 
gether ; for this kind of wood hardens the horses' hoofs 
like rocks. Moreover, the trench which is to receive the 
urine ought to have a sink or drain under the ground to 
convey it away, lest the urine overflowing touch the horses 

' The hoofs of animals that are too small, grow larger, 
or such as are worn, are repaired if you take,' etc. (Ani- 
malibus exiguce crescunt, vel attritce reparantur, etc.) 
Numerous recipes are giv^en to harden soft hoofs, espe- 
cially the soles. Frequent mention is made of sufliision 
in the feet, and casting the hoofs, doubtless through injuries 
sustained from the want of shoeing. ' If perchance, from 
the fatigue of a journey, a sufflision or defluxion shall 
happen in his feet,'^ etc. ' If a horse or mule has cast his 
hoof the cure is diflicult.'^ 'But such horses or mules 
whose hoofs have become diseased by sufl^usion or spread- 

' Lib. i. cap. ^6. ' Lib. i. cap. 38. ^ Lib. ii. cap. 57. 


ing of matter, or by some voluntary act of your own, or 
by the under part having been injured by some obstacle 
in the way, and have been a long time lame, this is the 
cure.'^ The principal remedy proposed for these hoof-worn 
animals consisted essentially of pitch and rosin melted, and 
applied to the sole and the part coming in contact with 
the ground. It may be well to note here, that in the East 
Indies, melted pitch is largely applied to the feet of 
elephants when they become lame from journeying, or are 
about to travel over rocky ground. 

Perhaps a stronger proof than any that horses were 
not accustomed to be shod at this time, lies in the fact, 
that in the many directions given with great detail as to 
the management of the feet, and the performance of vari- 
ous operations in and on the sole, not a word is said as to 
removing the shoe previously, or replacing it afterwards. 
Besides, Renatus mentions every malady to which the un- 
shod foot is liable ; had nailed shoes been in vogue he must 
have spoken of the accidents arising from their use, such 
as pricks from the nails, which give rise to great lameness 
and often dangerous consequences now-a-days ; and he 
could scarcely omit noticing wounds and fractures caused 
by kicks from shod hoofs. Mention is made, however, 
of horses and mules being squeezed or bruised with the 
stroke of a wheel or an axle-tree. 

Vegetius appears to have been no stranger to the 
manners and customs of other and oftentimes distant 
countries, and to have been perfectly acquainted with the 
breeds of horses in them. For instance, in treating of 
the characteristics of horses, by which their native country 
' Lib. i. cap. 16. 


could be ascertained, he writes : ' In exclianging or selling 
horses, a lying story with regard to their native country is 
used, to introduce the greatest fraud. For men being 
desirous of selling them at the dearest rate, they falsely 
pretend that they are of the best breed ; which circum- 
stance has induced us, who, by travelling frequently into 
so many different and distant foreign countries, are per- 
fectly well acquainted with all kinds of horses, and have 
often kept them in our own stables, to explain the cha- 
racters and real merit and qualifications of every nation. 
For not to mention the meaner services they are employed 
in, it is manifest that horses are chiefly necessary for three 
uses — for war, for the circus, and for the saddle. The 
horses of the Hunni are by far the most useful for war, 
by reason of their endurance of fatigue, cold, and hunger. 
Next to them, those of Thuringia and Burgundy with- 
stand fatigue and bad usage the best. The Phrygian or 
Friesland horses are reckoned invincible, both with respect 
to swiftness and perseverance in running. Next, those of 
Epirus, Sarmatia, and Dalmatia, although they are ob- 
stinate and refractory to the bridle, yet are reckoned very 
fit for war. The noble disposition of the Cappadocian 
breed for chariots is much renowned ; equally, or next to 
these, the glory of the prize in the circus is reckoned due to 
the Spanish horses ; nor is Sicily much behind in affording 
for the circus such as are not inferior to them, although 
Africa is accustomed to furnish the Spanish breed with 
the swiftest of any. Persia, in all its provinces, furnishes 
better horses for the saddle, and they are reckoned as a 
great part of their patrimonial estate ; being very gentle 
and easy to ride upon, tractable and submissive, and of 


exceeding great value for the nobleness of their breed and 
pedigree. The Armenian and Sophenian follow next ; 
nor in this respect must you despise the Sicilian horses, 
nor those of Epirus, if their manners, or good temper and 
behaviour, and beauty do not forsake them. Those of 
the Hunni have a great crooked head, projectinS eyes, 
small nostrils, broad jaws and cheek-bones, a strong and 
stiff neck, manes hanging down to their knees, large ribs, 
crooked spine, strong bushy tail, strong legs, the lower 
part of their feet small, a.nd Jltll, spreading hoofs; their flanks 
hollow, and bodies angular ; no roundness in their quar- 
ters, or brawny development of their muscles ; their stature 
is rather in length than height ; the bones are large, there 
is a graceful leanness, and their very deformity constitutes 
their beauty. Their temper and disposition is moderate 
and prudent, and they are patient of wounds. 

'The Persian horses do not differ very much in their 
stature and build from other kinds of horses, but they are 
known and distinguished from them only by a certain 
gracefulness in their gait and manner of walking. Their 
step is short and frequent, and such as delights and ele- 
vates the rider ; nor is it taught by art, but freely bestowed 
upon them by Nature, — for their action is a mean between 
' pacers ' and those commonly called ' gallopers ; ' and 
whereas they are like neither of them, they are thought to 
have something common to both. These, as has been 
proved, have more gracefulness in a short journey, but in 
a long journey their endurance is but small. They have 
a proud spirit, and unless it be subdued with continual 
labour, they are stubborn and contumacious with their 
riders. Nevertheless, they are prudent, and, what is 


wonderful with so much fire and spirit, with the greatest 
care do they maintain their graceful carriage, the neck, 
being bent into a bow, so that the chin appears to lean 
upon the breast.' ' 

A writer who thus carefully describes the varieties of 
foreign horses, and enters into such details with each, 
would surely have mentioned the practice of preserving 
the feet of these useful creatures had it been known to 
him ; but nowhere in his writings does he allude to it. 

Vegetius Renatus Flavins, who flourished towards the 
end of the fourth century, in the reign of the Emperor 
Valentine, has often been confounded with the preceding 
writer, and his ' De Re Militari' has been, by Bracy Clark 
and many others, ascribed to Publius Vegetius. In this 
much-valued and classical military treatise, there is a par- 
ticular enumeration of everything pertaining to an army 
forge ; yet there is no mention made of workmen to shoe 
horses, nor yet of any implement or article intended for 
such a purpose. 

For examples of the losses sustained during war 
through horses' feet being unprotected, we are not so well 
supplied as in Greek history. One marked instance, 
however, would appear to be shown in Polybius, when 
that writer informs us that the horses of Hannibal's army 
(b.c. 216) lost their hoofs in the marshes of Etruria : 
' E quorum etiam multis, ob longum per paludes iter, un- 
gulas exciderunt,' 

That a defence for the feet of some of the larger 
domestic animals was in use, there can be no doubt. 
Aristotle for the Greeks, and Pliny for the Romans, state 

' Lib. iv. cap. 6. 


that the feet of camels were in time of war, or on long 
journeys, shod. And we infer that the Kaf>^arivai men- 
tioned by them were formed of a pliable leather sock 
covering the foot, stouter perhaps on the sole than else- 
where, and which, passing up the leg, was there fastened 
by thongs or bandages. 

A friend who was for a long period surveying in 
Africa, and whose duties carried him as far as the Soudan, 
informed me that horses are but seldom shod on the 
immense alluvial surface of the Sahara, where, for enor- 
mous distances, not a stone the size of a pebble is to be 
seen. In the rocky or stony regions, however, all are 
shod, and on long journeys the retention of the shoes and 
protection of the hoofs is a matter of much concern to 
the horsemen. To guard against the evil consequences 
that would follow the loss of one or two shoes by a horse 
when others could not be readily supplied, the conductors 
or followers of caravans, as well as the horsemen, are 
careful always to carry with them a sufficient quantity of 
leather to make socks to wrap the exposed hoof in. On 
the death of a camel — an event of frequent occurrence — • 
a piece of the thickest part of the hide is removed ; and 
when this begins to dry, it is subjected to long-continued 
and almost incessant manipulation, to make it soft and 
pliable, so as to fit closely to the hoof when required. 
The Arabs are often observed on the march pulling, 
rubbing, twisting, and stretching the lately-stripped camel- 
skin, solely with the intention of using it as a sock for the 
horses or camels when they become foot-sore. 

In Japan, in i860, the large black bulls used as pack 
animals, were often seen wearing foot-covers of this de- 


scription, to enable them to traverse the roads with their 
heavy burthens. 

There is nothing, however, to sliow that the 'Embattai' 
of Xenophon, or the ' Carbatinai ' of Aristotle and Pliny, 
were employed for solipedes. Nevertheless, now and 
again a curious passage occurs in the writings of some of 
the authorities we have just quoted, and in historical 
descriptions, which acquaints us that on certain occasions, 
contrivances, which would appear to have been only of 
a temporary character, were put on the feet of horses, 
mules, or oxen, to prevent injury to the horn, or to assist 
in remedying disease. As with the camel, the foot- 
defences of these creatures seems to have been suggested 
by that worn by man himself, and improvement in 
material, according to the ingenuity or wealth of indi- 
viduals, would, of course, from time to time appear. But 
there is no description of these improved defences, and 
their form and means of attachment to the limb have 
given rise to endless surmises and disputes. 

Catullus (b.c. 50) speaks of some kind of shoe, when 
he is desirous of throwing one of his too solid townsmen 
off a bridge into the river, so that he might shake him 
out of his lethargy, as a mule leaves its shoe in a stiff bog : 
' And leave your sluggish mind sunk in thick mire, as the 
mule his iron shoe in a tenacious bog.' ' 

Joseph Scaliger,^ in a note on this passage from 

' Carm. xvii. 20. 

Nunc eum volo de tuo ponte mittere proiinm. 
Si pote stolidum repente excitare veternum, 
Et supinum auimum in gravi derelinquere coeno, 
Ferream ut soleain tenaci in voragine mula.' 

' Encyclopedie Methodique, vol. ii. p. 651. Art. Anticjuites. 


Catullus, is of opinion that this solea was drawn over the 
hoof, and not fastened with nails, and in this opinion he is 
perhaps justified. An ordinary leather sock, such as 
would prove serviceable for the wear of a camel, would 
soon be found to be but little adapted to the rough usage 
of a horse or mule ; the sharp unyielding margin of the 
hoof-wall must in a very brief space, and particularly on 
paved roads or rocky ground, have cut through any 
envelope of hide or other soft material ; so borrowing the 
idea from their own caliga or calceus, or the wheel — the 
ferati orbes of Virgil, they shod this covering with stronger 
materials, such as brass, iron, or even silver, or gold, but 
most frequently iron. Like their shoes, these solece, or 
horse-sandals, were in all probability fastened round the 
legs with loops and straps, or fillets. It ma}^ be observed 
here that the name given to their own shoe or sandal — 
calceus or calceamentmn — was never given to this ap- 
pliance for horses and mules, which is always designated 
solea ; the act of shoeing, however, is found expressed 
by the verb calceo, and is alike employed for man and 

The fastening with thongs or straps must of course 
have been a very insecure one, as modern experience has 
taught us, and the leathern sole covering the ground 
surface of the foot would still further tend to weaken it, 
particularly in marshy or clayey soil. Even now, with 
our incalculably firmer-attached armature, it is well 
known that in the hunting-field, when crossing heavy 
ground, a leather sole acts like a sucker, and is almost 
certain to cause the shoe which covers it to be left in the 
mire. Such must have been a frequent occurrence with 


the solea ; so that Catullus only referred to it in a figur- 
ative but popular sense. 

To show that the soIccE were probably fastened to the 
extremity in this manner, the example afforded by Sue- 
tonius (a.d. 120), may be quoted. In that historian'.-) 
' Lives of the Twelve Emperors,' when treating of Ves- 
pasian (a.d. 60), he casually intimates that this good 
Emperor was in the habit of preserving the feet of his 
mules when travelling. Suspecting once during a journey 
that his mule-driver had alighted to shoe his mules, in 
order to have an opportunity for allowing a person they 
met, and who was engaged in a law-suit, to speak to him, 
he (Vespasian) asked him how much he got for shoeing 
the mules, and insisted on having a share of the profits.' 

The Commentator of Suetonius, under the Life of 
Vespasian, has made the same blunder in introducing 
words into the text which do not belong to it as 
Stephanus ; and this, as Bracy Clark has pointed out, has 
induced SchcefFer, the author of ' De Re Vehicular! 
Veterum,' to perpetuate the error. He writes : ' Ut testa- 
tur Suetonius in Vespasiano, qui frequenter solebat lectica 
deferri in villam suam Catiliam, sed a mulis quoniam 
quadraginta milliarum intervallo abesset Roma: Hinc 
qui lecticam ejus deferebat, solicitatoris cujusdam donis 
corruptus, e mulis retentus fingeret se aptaturum soUmm 
ferream pedi unius ex mulis, tempus dabat supplici ad 
porrigendum Imperatori libellum.' It is seen that there 
is no authority for this ' soleam ferream ' in the text. 

' Suetonius, Vita Imp. Vespasian de Facetis, Lib. xxiii. p. 120. 
' Mulionem in itinere quodam suspicalus ad calciandas mulas dcsilisse, 
ut adeunti litigator! spatiuni moramque praeberet : interrogavit, quanti 
calciasset : pactusque est lurri partem.' 


As Mr Clark has remarked, the circumstance of the 
emperors muleteer dismounting and fastening on the 
shoes of the mules, in order to detain the car while the 
solicitor who had bribed him presented his petition, 
would show that they were not attached by nails ; for 
nailed shoes are not so readily put on in the highway, 
and coachmen would not be likely to carry tools and 
other requisites for this purpose. The passage in Suetonius 
is against such an inference. The muleteer doubtless dis- 
mounted to readjust, or make more secure, the fastenings 
of some of the sokcE, which were supposed to have broken 

And Ribauld de la Chapelle,' in the last century, was 
also of opinion that the ancient Romans did not put the 
modern-shaped shoe on their horses or mules, but en- 
veloped them in a sock (sal-ot), an act indicated by the 
words, 'Jumentis soleas inducere.' He alludes to this 
instance in the Life of Vespasian, where the muleteer 
could change the coverings of the mules' feet when they 
were worn out. 

Suetonius, in commenting on the great extravagance 
of Nero (a.d. 6o), asserts that he never travelled with less 
than a thousand four-wheeled chariots, drawn by mules 
whose feet were shod with silver ; and the drivers of which 
were dressed in scarlet jackets of the finest Canusian 
cloth. ^ And the elder Pliny, speaking of the instances o 
luxury in silver plate among the Romans, amongst others 
relates the following : ' We find the orator Calvus com- 

' Dissertation sur I'Origine des Francs, etc., p. 199. 
' De Nerone ipso Tranquillas, cap. xxx. ' Nunquani carrucis minus 
mille fecisse iter traditur, soleis niularum argenteis.' 


plaining that the saucepans are made of silver ; but it has 
been left for us to invent a plan of covering our very car- 
riages with chased sih^er, and it was in our own age that 
Poppaca, the wife of the Emperor Nero, ordered her 
favourite mules to be shod even with gold.'' This refer- 
ence to shoeing has troubled many commentators. Vos- 
sius ^ notes from Xiphilinus, that Poppaea's mules were 
many of them furnished in their feet with shoes made of 
broom twisted and gilt. He calls their golden shoes 
£7rip^pyo-ia SHAPTIA. In Dion Cassius' History of 
Rome, it is mentioned that this Sabina had her mules shod 
with gold, and that the milk of 50 she-asses was devoted 
to her lavatory.3 In the same work, we learn that the 
barbarous Emperor Commodus (a.d. 190), caused his 
horses' hoofs to be gilt or covered with gold. 'When 
the horses became too old for the race-course, they were 
sent away to the country, Commodus replacing them 
by others, and introducing these into the circus with their 
hoofs gilt, and their backs covered with a cloth of gold. 
When they were suddenly brought before the people 

' Hist. Nat., Lib. xxxiii. cap. 49. ' Nostraque aetate Poppaea, con- 
jux Neronis principis, delicatioribus jumentissuis soleas ex auro quoque 
indaere.' ' Poppaea, the erapresse, wife to Nero, the emperour, was 
known to cause her ferrers ordinarily to shoe her coach-horses, and 
other palfries for her saddle (such especially as shee set store by, and 
counted more dainty than the rest), with cleane gold.' — Holland's 

"" Ad Catullus. 

^ Historicp Romance, Lib. Ixii. ' Sabina vero haec adeo delicate 
vixit (nam ex paucis quibusdam caetera intelligentur omnia) ut mulas, 
quibus agebatur, haberet auresis sole'is calceatas ; et ut quingentae asinae, 
(juse recens peperissent, quotidie mulgerentur, quo ipsa lacle earum 


loud shouts arose from every one, " Behold, Pertinax is 
here ! " ' 

The allusion made by Pliny to the garniture of Pop- 
pasa's mules, Mr Pegge remarks, would seem to imply that 
the solea was pulled on like an ordinary sock ; but, as 
previously mentioned, Vossius doubts this : ' Verum qua 
ratione absque clavis id fieri possit, non satis liquet ; ' and 
then he makes the assertion before alluded to, to prove 
that even the Greeks put on the hoof-armature with 
nails : 'in vetusto exemplari Hippiatricorum Grascorum, 
quod habeo, cui etiam picturae accedunt, clavorum quibus 
trajiciantur ungulas signa et vestigia manifeste apparent,' 
And yet, Pegge maintains, the (rma^rla ez^l^pua-a. men- 
tioned above could not well be nailed, but must have been 
drawn on and fastened in a different manner, perhaps by 
being tied round the leg, like the snow-bags Xenophon 
saw, and as ircoGT^'jaoira used for the soleae or shoes of 
mules seems to imply. Scaliger,^ from attentive examin- 
ation of all the passages referring to this subject, certainly 
was of opinion that the shoes of horses and mules, what- 
ever may have been their materials, were not fastened 

^'- ^ Ibid. Lib. Ixxxiii. ' Post haec equum euiidem, quum ob senectu- 
tem dimissus esset a cursu, et ruri ageret, Commodus arcessiverat, et 
introduxerat in circum, inauratis ungulis, ac inaurata pelle in dorso 
ornatum : qui ubi de improvise comparuit, rursum conclamatvam est ab 
omnibus, " Ecce Pertinax adest." ' 

Stephanus thinks that Popprea's mule-shoes were merely the soleae 
spartea gilt, and he adds (though we must not forget the mistake he 
previoUNly makes) : * Equi bellatores apud Romanos non habebant 
munimenta pedum seu soleas, sed sole jumenta, ut ostendit Fabrettas 

(Col. Traj.) Pertinacis tamen equi iraprifti^yuTOQ ungulas 

inaurabat Commodus, tuq oTzXaq ^aTa\p\j(TU)f7ai;. 

' Pitisc. ad Suet. Nero, cap. 30. 


on with nails, particularly in Suetonius' and Nero's 

Aldrov^andus ' remarks, that Suetonius, in his Life of 
Caligula (a.d. 40), expressly notices the iron shoe, with 
eight or more nails ; and Colonel Smith,^ who quotes this 
naturalist, appears to think him correct. ' We read con- 
cerning Caligula, in Suetonius, that the day previous to 
the races in the circus, he ordered the soldiers to maintain 
strict silence in the neighbourhood, lest his horse should 
be disturbed. He remembered when a journey was to be 
undertaken, if the country to be traversed was mountain- 
ous or rough, that, instead of eight, fourteen nails were to 
be affixed ; because such ground wore away the nails 
rapidly.' I have carefully read two editions of Suetonius 
(one of them the ' Bibliotheca Classica Latina ' of C. B. 
Hase; Paris, 1828), but do not find the most distant allu- 
sion to horse-shoes in the ' Life of Caligula.' The refer- 
ence is not trustworthy. 

For reasons which will be hereafter given, it might be 
concluded, that when shoes for horses or mules are men- 
tioned by any of the Roman or Greek writers immediately 
preceding or following the commencement of our era, that 
the modern method of applying a shoe to these animals' feet 
is not meant, and that there is no proof that it was known. 
But as additional evidence that the solea was a temporary 

' De Quadrupedibus, p. 50. Francofurti, 1623. ' De Caligula 
itaque legimus apud Suetonium pridie quam Circensis fierent, viciniae 
silentium per milites indixisse ne eques suus incitatus inquietaretur. 
Cum iter faciendum est, meminerit, per quae loca fiet eundem nam si 
per monies vel quaevis asperiora loca fuerit agitandus, loco octo clavorum, 
qualuordecim invenio affigendos, quod plurimum illic atterantur clavi.' 

" Naturalists' Library, vol. xii. Edinburgh, 1841. 


contrivance, secured round the pastern or fetlock with 
straps or thongs, we may refer to the writings of Roman 
and Greek hippiatrists, who testify to their nature and 
uses in several instances, and in a more or less explicit 

Columella, the agricultural writer already noticed, and 
who lived near the time of Augustus, prescribes a shoe or 
sandal of broom, or wicker-work, for lame oxen, though 
not for ordinary wear, but only as a surgical appliance, 
under the designation of solea spartea. Speaking of 
cattle that had become crippled in the limbs, he says 
that if it be low down, or in the hoofs, ' you should make 
a small opening between the digits with a knife, and after- 
wards appl}^ soft bandages steeped in salt and vinegar; 
then have the foot covered with a shoe of spartea, let 
there be great caution exercised to avoid wet, and keep 
the stable very dry.' ' 

Theomnestus, a Greek veterinarian of the Byzantine 
empire, of whom extremely little is known, save what 
is to be casually gleaned from his vivacious writings, but 
who is supposed to have lived in the 6th century, speaks 
about excessive abrasion of the hoofs, and the aj^plication 
of this rush or wicker slipper. ' If a horse is much jvorn in 
the hoofs hy travelling., and is then neglected, he becomes 
feverish, and is soon destroyed by the fever if not attended 
to. To prevent this, you must use warm water in which 
the roots of altliEca or wild mallows have been boiled, and 

' De Re Rust. lib. ii. p. 27. 'At si jam in ungulis est, inter duos 
ungues cultello leviter aperies, postea linamenta sale atque aceto imbuta 
applicantur, ac solea spartea pes induitur, maximeque datur opera ne in 
aquam pedem mittat, et sicce stabuletur.' 


foment the feet with it till they become clean and soft. 
Then the loose parts must be removed from the hoofs, 
and all bruises be laid bare in the water ; and then you 
are to have in immediate readiness s/ender twigs of broom, 
or twine cords, and rough cloths, tow and other coarse 
stuffing, with garlic (a?iX<ov) and axle-grease — one by 
one, so as to have them ready to fix by ties (or bands) 
round the hoofs. If they (the feet) should inflame, let 
blood be abstracted from the coronets, and cause the horse 
to remain in a warm place where there is sunshine, or let 
a fire be kindled if it be winter-time, and make him a bed 
of dry dung, that he may not stand on what is hard. The 
feet may suffer in this way without being much inflamed. 
Let him be attended for eight days, and stand in-doors on 
dung; also have his water brought to him, that his hoofs 
by walking be not torn asunder, but may grow, being 
nourished by what comes from the dung.' ' 

As Bracy Clark has noted, the twigs of the ' spartium ' 
are here recommended to be simply employed as cords to 
maintain the soft dressing to the tender feet, enclosing the 
hoofs like a net. 

The word sjmrtum, as used by the Greeks and Romans, 
was meant by them to indicate several species of plants 
which, like hemp or flax, could be easily manufactured 
into various articles of utility. But the former people, 
more particularly, applied this term to a shrub, the Spar- 
tium Junceum, or Spanish broom, which is found in a 
wild state on the dry lands of the Levant and the southern 
parts of Europe, and the slender branches of which were 
woven into baskets, while the shoots were prepared and 

' Rucllis. Scriptures Graeci Vetcrinarii, p. 254. 


put to the same uses as hemp. At the present day, the 
people of Lower Languedoc, towards Lodeve, manufac- 
ture it into various household textures, such as table- 
cloths, shirts, and other things, employing the bark as 
fuel. It is the species called by Pliny (Book xxxix. cap. 9) 
genista, but which he seems, though wrongly, to consider 
as another variety — the Stipa {macrochloa) tenacissima. 
This last variety certainly grows in Spain and Africa, and 
is there designated sparto or esparto. As described by 
him (Book xix. cap. 2), it is still in great request for the 
manufacture of baskets, mattresses, ship-cables and cord- 
age, and when treated as hemp, is converted into more 
delicate articles. The Spaniards make of it a kind of 
shoes called alpergates, which form a large export com- 
modity, being in popular demand in the Indies, where 
these sandals are more suitable than anything else. It is 
also an essential material for the fabrication of coverings 
for rooms, balconies, and chairs ; and makes, besides, ex- 
cellent panniers for mules. It is most likely that the 
Greeks employed the spartium and the Romans the stipa, 
in making shoes for their beasts of burthen. 

In more modern times, however, sandals for horses 
have been made from spar turn, as appears from J. Leonis.' 
It is also now largely employed in the manufacture of 

We have already examined what Vegetius had to say 
about horses' feet, and their injuries from non-shoeing. 
We will now consider what he relates with regard to 
some portions of their treatment, as a supplement to his 
mention of ' detritus pedibus,' ' subtritus pedibus.' etc. He 

' Africae Descriptio. Lib. iii. p. 120. 


several times alludes to the solece spartcea^ or shoes, of Span- 
ish broom, particularly for the ox when foot-sore, or when 
disease was present ; and to show that this animal some- 
times wore this, or something analogous, when travelling or 
at work, he writes : ' If the sock has hurt his pastern or 
hoof, wrap up hard pitch and hog's lard,' etc. 'But if 
the sock has entered into it, the sea-lettuce, which the 
Greeks call Tithymallos, mixed with salt, is put upon it. 
Also when his feet are worn and bruised underneath, they 
are washed with ox's urine made warm ; then he is forced 
to tread upon the burning-hot embers of vine twigs, and 
his hoofs are anointed with tar, together with oil and hog's 
lard. Nevertheless, they do not go so lame if, when they 
are unyoked from their work, their hoofs be w^ashed with 
cold water, and their pasterns and coronets, as well as the 
cleft of the hoof itself, be rubbed with old hog's lard.' 
' If he has trodden upon a nail, or pierced his hoof with a 
sharp tile or stone .... Then having a shoe of Spanish 
broom put upon it for the space of three days,'' etc. 

With regard to the horse, we often find the w^ords 
'animal calciabis,' ' calciatis pedibus per multos dies;' and 
when describing the treatment for a horse that has bruised 
or inflamed his foot, he finishes by adding, ' you shall take 
care to put a shoe of Spanish broom upon it, that, after 
the evacuation of the humours, the hoof may be repaired.'^ 
(Sparcia calciare curabis, ut post egestione liumore ungula 

From this veterinarian, then, we might be led to think 
that the Romans did not generally shoe their horses, mules, 
or oxen ; and that when they were impelled to do so from 

' Lib. iii. cap. i. ^ Lib. i. cap. 26. 


motives of pride and display, or from urgent necessity, 
the shoeing was of the most simple kind, and much as 
they were accustomed to cover their own feet in a sock 
of leather or pelt by enveloping the whole surface. It is 
not improbable that the portion covering the front of the 
hoof may, when display was wanted, have been gilded, or 
covered with gold or silver, and the under portion also 
strengthened by gold, silver, bronze, or iron plates. That 
this was the case we find amply illustrated elsewhere in 
Vegetius' writings, where he speaks of lemni.sci, which were 
doubtless intended to strengthen the solea, and may have 
been of strong leather, or even iron ; a circumstance of 
some importance to remember. In the following passage 
this is found more particularly noticed : ' Pedes quos sanos 
habet glante ferreo vel si defuerit, spartea calceabis, ciii 
lemniscos sulyicies, et addita fasciola diligentissime colli- 
gabis, et suppositicum facies parti illi quse misera est, ut 
planas ungulas possit ponere.'' 

The glante ferreo is found for the first and only time 
here, and Bracy Clark thinks that it may have been only 
an insertion into, or corruption of, the text with which, by 
frequent transcription, the work abounds. He adds : 
'There is, however, something very singular about it, for 
glaiu signifies an acorn, the fruit of the oak, and the 
figure which this fruit presents projecting from its cup, 
would, if divided by a longitudinal section, not badly re- 
present the figure of the modern horse-shoe, or a section 
of its cup would do the same ; but as nothing is said of 
nails for fastening it on, it cannot properly be considered, 
without other collateral evidence, to mean any such thing. 
' Lib. iii. cap. i8. 


It may have been possibly a piece of iron turned round 
to the figure of the liorse's hoof, and which was then 
fastened on by rivets or otherwise to the lemni.sci, or 
leather soles, and this, it is not at all impossible, might, 
under the pressure of necessity, have been applied directly 
to the foot itself, and given birth to the modern horse- 
shoe. It is therefore probable that these metal plates, or 
acorns of iron, used to strengthen their solece, or shoes, 
were distinguished by the name of glantes fen-ei, and the 
passage tells us if these were not to be had they were to 
be contented with the lemnisci, and if not these, with the 
sparteum opus, which was rarely honoured with the title 
of so lea. ^^ 

The English edition of Vegetius, published in 1748, 
thus translates the above passage, which relates to the 
treatment for disease in the hip : ' You shall shoe his feet 
that are sound with an iron patten, or sandal, or if this 
be lacking, with a shoe made of broom, and you shall put 
bandages upon it, and bind it up most carefully, and so 
make it able to support that part which is in misery, that 
the animal may be able to set down his hoofs flat and full 
upon the ground.'^ 

At the present day, in this country, what are called^,^-^ 
poultice-bags or boots, and which are made of leather,^"""*- 
fastening with a strap round the pastern, are very fre- 
quently shod with an iron shoe to guard them from wear. 
The Roman solece may have resembled these, and it is 
possible that on other, though rarer, occasions they may 

' Op. cit. p. 25. 
* Vegetius Renatus. Of the Distempers of Horses, ike, p. 275. 


have been entirely of iron, suspended to the hoof by a 
bandage, or strap and buckle. 

It is satisfactory that Vegetius has so particularly de- 
scribed the mode of attaching this garniture to the limb: 
' et addita fasciola diligentissime colligabis ;' because it 
elucidates what might have otherwise been an obscure 
reference in Apsyrtus, a Greek veterinarian who lived 
more than a century before Vegetius. In chapter 107 of 
that writer's work, in the Hippiatrica, is found the heading : 
'Apsyrtus on the injuries from foot defences or fastenings 
of the same.' And the chapter goes on to relate : ' It 
happens that the legs (ixso-oxovkx., the parts from the 
knees to the hoofs) of the horse, from the foot defences 
or shackles {iTnroTre^rig), or its fastenings by the thong or 
cord, become injured, so that the skin is torn off or 
destroyed, and the tendons of the fetlock are laid bare. 
There is danger of this accident proving fatal if it happen 
to both joints. It is proper, therefore, in the first instance, 
to apply wine, vinegar, or brine and vinegar ; next, to use 
the lipara and soft applications of white plasters ; and, to 
complete the cure, of ceruss one part, of ammoniacum one 
half, of myrtle-berries a sufficient quantity — then tritur- 
ating the ammoniacum, mixed with the ceruss, pour upon 
them the myrtle, and use it.' ' ^ 

' Ruellii (Hippiatr. lib. ii. p. 100) renders this passage from the Greek 
as follows : 'Apsyrtus iis aui compedibus aut vinculis collisi 
viTiANTUR. Usu veiiit ut sutfragiues, quas »iesoci/riia vocant, tricis, pedi- 
cis, viuculisque quibusdam loro vel fune districtis pleruuque lacessantur, 
quibus corium procidit, sic ut nervuli hujusce partis aperiaiitur, ac nudi 
pateant : id quod vitae discrimen adfert, praesertim si in utroque flexu 
articulorum evenerit,' etc. 



This passage, and the term ' hippopocles,' here used for 
the first and only time in the ancient veterinary writers, 
obv^iously refers to the sandal or solea worn by horses or 
mules on rare occasions, and to the way in which it was 
maintained on the extremities by the corrigice, or rather 
the Jciscioice, mentioned by Vegetius. That this was really 
the case, a very fine terra-cotta or baked clay (the kind 
named ' typi ' by Pliny), now in the British Museum (2nd 
vase Room, and marked T 337), has been brought forward 
by Bracy Clark as a proof (fig. 3). The example is cer- 

%• 3 

tainly, so far as I can ascertain, unique ; but taken 
in connection with what the ancient authors have said in 
regard to this matter, it would appear to afford conclusive 
evidence. The age of the tablet is, unfortunately, un- 
known ; but it belongs to a number which were found 
about the year 1765, in a dry well, near the Porta Latina, 


at Rome ; and which were sometime afterwards added to 
Mr Townley's collection. The bas-relief exhibits a 
chariot-race, having something of the Greek character in 
design. The charioteer, wearing a helmet and what 
Suetonius calls the ' quadrigarian ' dress/ stands in a two- 
wheeled curriculus or car, drawn by four horses, which are 
galloping towards the metce or pillars, round which the 
competitors were obliged to turn in these contests of the 
circus. The upper part of his body appears to be swathed 
in his robe, and the reins, four in number, two in the left 
and two in the right hand, according to the fashion of the 
times, encircle his waist.^ 

The bits are the simple snaffle, and not the curb, 
which we know the Romans introduced ; and Combe,^ who 
has made these terra-cottas his particular study, says the 
instructions of Nestor,* that in turning round the goal, 
the right-hand horse should be urged on with a loose rein, 
are exactly followed in this instance. The reverse, how- 
ever, appears to be the case. At the base of the metae, 
there may have happened an accident ; but this part is 
rather disfigured ; while turning the goal the back of a 
horseman is seen, with what seems to be reins round his 
body, and who may only be keeping the course clear. On 

' Suetonius, Vita Calig. cap. 19. ' Per hunc pontem ultro citroque 
commeavit, biduo continenti. Primo dei phalerato equo — Postridie 
quadrigario habitu, curriculoque bijugi famosorura equorum, prae se 
ferens Darium puerum ex Parthorum obsidibus; comitante praetoria- 
norum agmine, et in essedis cohorte amicorum.' 

Lampridius (Vit. Commodi, cap. 2) has also ' Aurigae habitu currus 

^ Statius, Theb., lib. vi. 104. 

3 Description of the Ancient Terra-ccMtas in the British Museum. 

' Iliad, 335—341. 


the upper part of the tablet, which is in size one foot four 
inches by one foot, is an inscription, Anniae Arescusa, 
who may have been the winner of the race, or the artist 
of the terra-cotta. Most important of all, however, for 
our present purpose, is the representation of what look 
like bandages on the fore limbs of all the horses — a little 
rubbed on the nearest, but certainly most distinct on the 
middle and left-hand horses. There is nothing of the 
kind on the hind limbs, and this may easily be accounted 
for. Admitting that these are the bands of the hippopodes, 
it is well known to all horsemen that the fore feet are more 
liable to suffer from attrition, when unshod, than the hind 
ones, simply because they have to support more weight 
and strain. In India, for instance, cavalry and other horses 
are frequently only shod on the fore feet, as they require 
this defence ; while the hinder ones can be submitted to 
a great deal of wear without suffering at all to the same 

The Jrisciolce cover the limb apparently from the knee 
downwards, and though nothing of the sandal itself can 
be distinguished, yet it is to be observed that the hoofs of 
the fore extremities are much larger, and altogether look 
clumsier than those behind, which have no bandages 
above them ; a circumstance that leads to the inference 
that the hippopodes enveloped the hoofs as closely as they 
could be made to do. 

In the same collection of terra-cottas are some very 
fine bas-reliefs in which horses are admirably represented, 
but none have their limbs swathed liked these, which had 
probably been subjected to an extra amount of racing, 
being noted horses, and had consequently become foot-sore. 


It is very probable that an ancient seal, reported by 
Bracy Clark and others to be in the British Museum, but 
which I have been unable to trace, is also intended to 
convey the idea of the hippopodes being used for cavalry. 
From the attitude of a warrior, who kneels down in front 
of a horse, and with his right hand seizes its right leg, 
while another soldier is aiding him by holding up the left 
one as high as the elbow, it has been conjectured that this 
boot is being attached to the animal's foot. 

The Abbe Winckelmann has described this paste, and 
also made some interesting remarks on shoeing ; so, in 
consequence of my inability to discover its whereabouts 
in the Museum, if it ever was there, I reproduce what he 
says : ' Pate Antiq, Un homme avec un bonnet, qui tient 
leve avec force le pied droit d'un cheval, tandis qu'un 
soldat arme qui est a genoux devant le cheval, paroit lui 
lier des bandages au dessus du sabot. II seroit, sans doute, 
hardi d'avancer, que ce soldat soit la pour mettre des fers a 
son cheval. II ne veux pas repeter ici, que les mulets des 
Anciens etoient ferres, et je sais bien qu on ne trouve des 
chevaux ferres sur aucune ancien monument. Je soutiens 
de plus que le pied ferre d'un cheval qui est sur un bas- 
relief du Palais Mattei a Rome, representant une chasse 
de I'Empereur Galien, ou Fabretti a cru trouver I'epoque 
des chevaux ferres, je soutiens, dis-je, que cette jambe est 
une restauration muderne. Je ne disconviens pas pourtant 
qu'on ne sache que les Anciens, et en particulier les peuples 
de I'Asie, firent des fers a leurs chev'aux, comme on voit 
dans ce qui dit Appian dans I'Histoire de la guerre de 
Mithridate. Scaliger se fondant sur la parole solea, le fer 
de mulets dans Catulle, et sur celle u7ro^r}[xov, le fer des 



chevaux dans Appian, est un sentiment qu'on leur lioit les 
fers.' ' 

But even these defences must have been rarely resorted 
to, as the above are the only two instances in which there 
is any attempt to represent them. It may also be ob- 
served, that in the Greek or Latin languages there are no 
words corresponding to those we employ to designate a 
horse-shoe, or the artisan who applies it, and there is 
nothing to prove in a logical manner, in ancient history 
or the writings of veterinarians, that hoofs were furnished, 
as now-a-days, with a defence attached by nails. 

As before observed, this subject has given rise to much 
dispute and research for very many years. Montfauqon ^ 
asserts : ' The custom of shoeing horses is very ancient, 
although there are certain proofs that it was not general 
among the Romans. Fabretti says, that among the great 
number of horses which occur in ancient monuments, he 
never saw more than one which was shod, though he 
made it his business to examine them all, both upon 
columns and other marbles. As to the mules, both male 
and female, they are often said by writers to have been 
shod. There are, nevertheless, certain and undoubted 
proofs that the ancients shod their horses ; thus much 
Homer and Appian say (?) ; though it does not appear, 
indeed, that the custom was general.' In another place, 
he writes : ' The horses' feet (on an Etruscan tomb) 
have iron shoes, a particular rarely seen on ancient 
monuments. Fabretti says, that of all the horses he saw 

' Description des Pierres Gravees du Feu Baron de Stosch. Florence, 
1760, p. 169. 

" Antiquite Expliq., vol. iv. p. ^o. 


on monuments, he never observed but one with four 

Fabretti's remarks are vakiable in many respects, but 
with regard to shoeing it can scarcely be doubted that he 
has allowed himself to be deceived. (See above for 
Winckelmann's notice.) He writes : ' I am certain that 
the shoeing; of draught animals was introduced before the 
time of Trajan (a.d. 98); but in this country we cannot 
recognize shoes on the statues, though many other de- 
tails are found. For neither in the marble nor old brass 
statues, as it would seem, is a single thing else excepted. 
It would be by no means vain to assert that the Romans 
at this time did not shoe their w^ar-horses, for lack of 
which they were not a little lightened in their work, 
and were less liable to receive injury from each other 
when at large.' After referring to the wTitings of Xeno- 
phon, Suetonius, Catullus, Pliny, and to Poppasa's mules, 
which, he acknowledges, had foot defences attached by 
golden bands, he adds that there w^as seen a statue on the 
fourth landing of the staircase of the temple dedicated to 
the memory of Cyriacus Matthasius, in the Caglian Garden, 
with shoes on the horses' feet fixed by nails. 'But this 
statue has nothing to do with Trajan ; because it was 
either destroyed by Severus, 120 years from Trajan's time, 
or it refers to something which took place in the last days 
of the Cecsars. This conclusion only do we arrive at, 
that those authors are ignorant of this matter who sup- 
pose that the application of iron shoes to the hoofs of 
horses was first made at the time of P. Theophilum 
Raynaudum in Tabula Chronologica, year DCCIC, by 
' Op. cit., vol. vii. p. 1558. 


Lascus Polonus. Nearer to the time of Trajan we find 
the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, and another 
marble one on the first platform of the orator's staircase, 
nudas ferro ungulas habent ; at the bottom, also, two 
statues of Trajan himself on each side of the Arch of 
Constantine. But lest it should be asserted that details 
were not intended to be shown on these statues, it so 
happens that the artist has designed the soles of the shoes 
worn by the soldiers with iron nails, which Festus and 
Isidorus in their Orig. xix. cap. ult. termed "c/««./«," and 
to which kind of shoes and sharp nails Josephus in " De 
Bell. Judaic." frequently refers.'' 

Joachim Camerarius asserts that the ancients were not 
accustomed to shoe their horses."* 

Guido Pancirolus observes, that some are of this 
opinion, because such shoes are not seen in the equestrian 
statues ; the reason for which was not known to him.^ 
He, however, cites Nicetas for an equestrian statue shod 
with iron shoes ; but as that Byzantine historian lived in 
the 13th century, when shoeing was well known, it is ex- 
tremely likely that the statue was either a very recent one, 
or the horses' feet were armed in the same fashion as 
Eustathius caused Homer's horses to be. 

Isaac Casaubon "^ was of opinion that shoeing was not 
known very anciently. 

' Raphadis Falretti. De Col. Trajani, cap. vii. p. 224. Romae, 1683. 

" Thesaur. Graec. Antiq., vol. xi. p. 822. De Curandis Equis. 
' Prisci solea ungulis assigere non cofisiievere.' 

2 Nova Reperta, Tit. 16. Sunt etiam qui velint >ie calceatos quidem 
oJiin fuisse equos : eo quod in equestrilus statuisferrea ista calceamenta 
non conspiciantur ; cujus rei causam sane haud scio. 

■* vVrihtoph. Equit., 549. Vetustissimos homines hoc ignordsse certum est. 



Vossius shows from Palladius ' that mules were usually 
shod with spartum, for by ' animalia,' the word Palladius 
uses, Vossius thinks mules and asses were intended. 

Pegge ^ asserts that there is no clear, express, or posi- 
tive proof that the Greeks shod their horses very ancientli/, 
or even customarily, in later times. ' I think it not im- 
probable they might begin to do it occasionally, and in 
some certain places, a little before the age of Mithridates; 
a conjecture grounded upon the practice of the Romans, 
with whom shoeing prevailed so soon after.' By shoeing, 
this antiquarian perhaps meant the use of the solea — not 
the modern shoe. He adds : ' But why, it may be asked, 
should mules and asses be more commonly shod than 
horses ? I answer, these animals were much used in 
ancient times, more so than horses, for riding in Judasa, 
and for draught almost everywhere ; besides, they are 
usually more tractable and patient, asses especially, and 
shoeing, consequently, was much more easily performed 
upon them.' 

This is scarcely correct. The use of the horse for 
draught and riding purposes was very limited, principally 
because shoeing, as now practised, was, if written testimony 
be accepted, unknown to the Romans. Mules and asses 
were probably preferred, because their hoofs are far more 
strong and durable than those of horses. These animals 
are also much less tractable, and, as a rule, are more diffi- 
cult to shoe, from their obstinate and often vicious tem- 

Colonel Smith says : ' With regard to horse-shoeing, 
Bishop Lowth and Bracy Clark were mistaken in believ- 

' Lib. 1., cap. 24. ' Archaeologia, 1776. 


ing that the Roman horses' or mules' shoes were fastened 
on without nails driven through the horny parts of the 
hoof as at present. A contrary conclusion may be in- 
ferred from several passages in the poets ; and the figure 
of a horse in the Pompeii battle-mosaic leaves little doubt 
on the question.' ' 

As this writer, however, does not quote the passages ' 
from the poets which lead to the inference that shoes 
were applied by means of nails, and as the authenticity of 
the details in the Pompeii battle-mosaic, which represents 
the defeat of Darius by Alexander, rests entirely on the 
authority of a coloured engraving, the horse-shoe supposed 
to be seen on the foot of a Satrap's charger is, we can 
scarcely doubt, of the same age as the copyist — a very 
modern affair, and as likely to prove the antiquity of the 
present method of shoeing as the presence of shoes with 
imm^ense calkins on the feet of St Paul's horse in the 
painting by Lebrun, now in the Louvre ; or the virtuoso 
in Dr Johnson's ' Rambler,' who possessed ' a horse-shoe 
broken on the Fiamiinian Way.' It must not be forgotten 
that another artist, in a print of Aristotle, carefully put a 
modern pen into the fingers of the illustrious Greek 
writer. When the engraving of the Pompeii mosaic was 
drawn and published, shoeing had been long known in 
Italy. Some years ago, while workmen were excavating 
on the site of that buried town, the ruins of an inn were 
reached, and in it were found the bodies of cars, with iron 
rings for fastening horses to the wall ; bones of horses in 
the stables were also discovered, but no shoes. ^ 

* Kitto's Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. 
Having placed myself in communication with Her Majesty's Con- 



Heusinger/ whose profound acquaintance with ancient 
literature, particularly with that pertaining to the early 
Greek and Roman hippiatrists, few will dispute, declares 
that shoeing was not known to the Romans ; that the 
writings of the ancient veterinarians are full of remedies 
for preventing and remedying undue wear of the horn ; 
and that old authors were well acquainted with the use of 
shoes for diseased feet, but never make mention of the 
modern iron shoes in the treatment of such. 

Mr Rich^ asserts of the soleae ferreae, that ' they were a 
protection for the feet of mules employed in draught, in- 
tended to answer the same object as the modern horse- 
shoe, though differing materially in its quality and manner 
of fixing ; for the concurrent testimony of antiquity, both 

sul-General at Naples, in order to ascertain if the recent investigations 
at Pompeii had atibrded any additional evidence as to the absence of 
horse-shoes, that gentleman writes to the following eli'ect, on the 24th 
January, 1869 : ' I have been informed by the Director of the Museum 
at Naples and of the excavations at Pompeii, that two pieces of bronze 
have recently been found which may have been used as shoes for a 
horse, but no other indications of horse-shoes having been in use have 
been met with. On the other hand, pieces, or rather small plates, of 
iron have been found, which are believed to be tips or half-shoes, as used 
at present, as a protection to the hoofs of oxen.' 

I have caused further inquiry to be made, and have also applied for 
drawings of these objects. Should anything satisfactory arrive before 
the publication of this work, it will be inserted as an appendix. 

' Recherches de Pathologic Comparee, vol. i. p. 9. 'Onnetrouve 
aucun indice de la ferrure chez les anciens Romains.' ' Les ouvrages 
des anciens veterinaires sont remplis de remedes pour prevenir at guerir 
I'usure de cornes ; mais les suites de la ferrure sont seulement mention- 
nees dans les ouvrages modernes. Les anciens auteurs connoissent bien 
des sabots pour les pieds malades (soleas sparteas, etc.), mais jamais ils 
ne font mention des fers dans la cure des pieds malades.' 

* Companion to the Latin Dictionary and Greek Lexicon, p. 608. 


written, sculptured, and painted, bears undeniable evidence 
.to the fact that neither the Greeks nor the Romans were 
in the habit of shoeing their animals by nailing a piece of 
iron on the hoofs as we now do. The contrivance they 
employed was probably a sock made of leather or some 
such material, and similar in form and general character 
to the solea spartea : being passed under and over the 
foot, and bound round the pastern joints and shanks of 
the animal by thongs of leather, like the carhatime of the 
peasantry. This sock was not permanently worn, but was 
put on by the driver during the journey in places or upon 
occasions when the state of the roads required, and taken 
off again when no longer necessary. Both the nature of 
the contrivance, showing that it was a close shoe covering 
the entire foot-, and the practice of putting it on and 
removing it occasionally, is sufficiently testified by the 
particular terms employed to designate the object itself 
and the manner of applying it — mulas calceare, mulis 
soleas induere. When the underneath part of the sock 
was strengthened by a plate of iron, it was termed solea 
ferrecu This writer describes the solea spartea^ and 
compares it to the sandal used by the Japanese, which, 
he says, is ' a small basket, made to the shape of the 
animal's foot, on to which it is bound by a strap round the 
fetlock.' I have seen nothing in or from Japan answering 
to this description, nor at all like the drawing he gives. 

The ' Nouveau Dictionnaire des Origines, Inventions, 
et Decouvertes,' also maintains that the Greeks and 
Romans were ignorant of this art, and that they were 
content to attach the coverings they used by means of 
straps, in the same manner as men's shoes. 


A like conclusion was recently arrived at by M. 
Nickard/ a careful investigator, who has examined all the 
accessible ancient records and monuments, in order to 
satisfy himself with regard to this subject ; though, as an 
archaeologist, he has ignored this modern science. 

So much for the written history of this art in the ages 
preceding the Christian era, and for some centuries sub- 
sequently. Notwithstanding the various assumptions put 
forward by modern writers, founded on obscurely written 
or incorrectly rendered passages, that nail-shoeing was in 
use, the balance of evidence, it will be seen, is of a negative 
character. The frequent allusion to the injuries caused by 
travelling ; the mention of losses incurred in war-time by the 
horses breaking down from over-worn hoofs ; the repeated 
occurrence of words implying that the feet were unprotect- 
ed ; the studied and judicious manner in which strong hoofs 
are spoken of and commended by the Greek and Roman 
horsemen ; the limited use made of the horse, with its 
comparatively easily damaged hoofs, and the extensive 
employment of the mule and ass, inferior animals, but 
whose feet are so much better protected by horn ; — all 
would go to prove that no effective armature for this 
vulnerable part of the horse's body was then known. 

But we have noticed that a special device, though far 
inferior to that jiow employed, was had recourse to in the 
form of a sandal, which, though of a very inconvenient 
shape, and usually made of unthrifty materials, yet doubt- 
less served for short journeys, and by being often renewed, 
answered to some extent for a longer space of time when 
a horse's feet had become tender from prolonged walking 

' Tvlein. de la Soc. des Antiq. de France, i856. 


on broken or stony ground ; as well as assisted in re- 
taining healing applications to the soles when these were 
injured. At any rate, there would be no difficulty in em- 
ploying it ; as a rider or driver, when apprehending injury 
to his horse or mule, could easily apply the solea, whether 
of broom, leather, or other materials ; though he would 
always have to guard against the evil results incidental to 
the too prolonged use, or the constriction of the bands 
which bound it to the limb. 

From such inquiries, and from the knowledge that a 
large portion of their stable management was devoted to 
making the horn of the foot tough, and the edges of the 
crust round and smooth, so as to obviate splitting and 
chipping, together with the known fact that no horses in 
any part of the world will bear severe and continuous 
labour without shoes,' we appear to be justified in con- 

' Major Rickard, speaking of the district of San Juan, near the Cor- 
dillera, in Peru, describes it as very stony. ' For such districts the mules 
ought to be shod, as otherwise they will soon become foot-sore, and 
consequently worthless. I mention this because it is not usual to shoe 
horses or mules in the ordinary transitable districts of South America ; 
and I would strongly recommend the traveller to insist upon his own 
mule, at least, being shod, irrespective of place or distance.' — A Mining 
Journey Across the Great Andes, p. 144. 

And Tschudi, describing the village of San Geronimo de Surco, 
in the valley of Lima, says that the horses are shod, and that shoeing 
must be extremely valuable, if we may judge from its price. ' In this 
village there is an old Spaniard who keeps a tambo, and at the same 
time exercises the calling of a farrier. One of my horse's shoes being 
loose, I got him to fasten it on. For hammering in eight nails he 
made me pay half a gold ounce, and at first he demanded twelve 
dollars. Shortly after my arrival in the Sierra, I got myself initiated 
in the art of horse-shoeing, and constantly carried about with me a 
supply of horse-shoes and nails, a plan which I found was generally 
adopted by travellers in these parts. It is only in the larger Indian 


eluding that the art of arming the ground surface of the 
hoof with a metal plate and nails was unknown to the 
antique civilization of the Greeks and Romans. Had 
such a handicraft been in existence among them, without 
a doubt it would have obtained particular notice in more 
ways than one, but especially by the veterinary writers. 
And so proud were the Romans of everything relating to 
the horse, that shoes on his hoofs, making him a still more 
perfect animal, and adding to his appearance, would have 
been portrayed by the chisels of their sculptors, who, 
faithful to their art in every respect, never omitted the 
most apparently trivial or minute detail from the subjects 
they have immortalized. We find them, for example, 
giving an exact representation of the shoes worn by the 
soldiers, with the nails that oftentimes studded the soles ; 
and even in the carriage-wheels depicted by them, we can 
see the nails or rivets which bound the iron hoops to their 
circumference. Yet neither in the remains of ancient 
sculpture, among the ruins of Persepolis, on Trajan's 
column, or those of Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, and 
others, nor yet on the equestrian statues which still remain 
to us, is such a trophy of man's skill to be found. 

As another instance, however, of the wonderful identity 
and universality of purpose and instinct which impels 
mankind in the most widely separated regions of the globe 
to adopt certain measures and particular objects for the 
requirements of their existence, the soleas of the Roman 
writers, and the desire for hard hoofs, are not without 
interest to the ethnologist. 

villages that farriers are to be met with, that is to say, in places til'ty or 
sixty leagues distant from each other.' — Travels in Peru, p. 266. 


In Eastern countries at the present day, as has been 
already briefly remarked, the greatest importance is 
attached to the toughness and durability of the hoofs, 
even where horses are shod with iron plates. Among the 
Afghan tribes, for instance, not satisfied with the natural 
qualities of the horn, even when best developed, the native 
shoers adopt the following means for increasing its resist- 
ing powers. After removing the old shoe, and cutting 
away enough of the superfluous growth of horn, the lower 
margin of the wall and the sole are pretty freely charred 
by a red-hot iron, and while these parts are yet in a state 
of partial fusion, the whole foot is dipped into a strong 
solution of alum. 

In some of the islands of the Eastern Sea — Java, 
Manilla, and Singapore — where shoeing is not practised, 
and the small horses have no defence to their feet, the 
stable floors are constructed exactly as Xenophon, Varro, 
Columella, Palladius, or Vegetius recommends, with the 
object of making the horn hard and keeping it dry. 

Travelling to the North Pacific Ocean, there is the 
remarkable island-empire of Japan, so long isolated from 
other countries that it is indeed wonderful to find its 
inhabitants, so far as the arts and sciences are concerned, 
a highly cultivated and ingenious people. From time 
immemorial they have been skilful workers in metals ; 
with the properties and many of the uses of iron they 
have for ages been familiar ; and for centuries they have 
employed horses on a large scale, not only in their traffic, 
but in their feudal armies, of which a large proportion is 
cavalry. And yet they are in exactly the same condition 
as we suppose the Greeks and Romans were as regards 


shoeing, and as evidenced in the quotations just referred 
to. The art of fastening metal plates on their horses' feet 
is unpractised, and was probably unknown until a few 
years ago ; so that strong hoofs with them is a matter of 
much importance, and from year to year these are un- 
touched by any instrument ; indeed, they become in- 
juriously over-grown when the animal is not allowed 
sufficient exercise ; and at all times they are permitted to 
grow crooked and mis-shapen, just as wear or disease may 
allow. On unpaved roads, cases of lameness are not rare, 
and where long journeys have to be performed over rocky 
mountains and along stony paths, the hoofs must suffer 
very much. To obviate this inconvenience, the ingenious 
J>Japanese have been compelled to resort to sandals which 
are identical in principle, and not far removed from them 
as regards material, with the solecr spartece of Vegetius 
and Columella. The invention of these is probably coeval 
with the introduction of their beautiful hardy little horses, 
as the people themselves wear shoes of a similar con- 
struction. Though made of rice-straw for ordinary wear 
on the horses of the humbler classes, and of silk or cotton 
stuff for those of grandees, yet their use is universal ; and 
if the large number worn out in a day's journey by one 
horse be any criterion of what will be expended in a busy 
commercial town, the manufacture of these slippers must 
give employment to very many people (fig. 4). Riding 
horses do not always wear them, and when they do they are 
generally fastened only on the fore feet, as on these the 
weight chiefly falls ; but the pack-horses — which form, 
with bulls, the only means of conveying m erchandise by 
land, carriages not being in use — nearly always have sandals 


on. The arrangement of these is very simple. Rice- 

straw is plaited into close ropes or bands, which are inter- 
woven to form a thick circular pad, intended to cover the 
whole of the sole. Around the border of this cushion 
are loops of the same material ; and at the front part 
a stronger loop, the main fastening, and through which 
run two narrow bands from the heels, the corrigice, made 
to secure the whole apparatus firmly to the pastern. 

Kaempfer, the veracious historian of this curious em- 
pire, notices these contriv ances. ' Shoes for the servants 
and for the horses. Those of the latter are made of straw, 
and are fastened with ropes of the same to the feet of the 
horses, instead of iron shoes, such as ours in Europe, 
which are not used in this country. As the roads are 
slippery and full of stones, these shoes are soon worn out, 
so that it is often necessary to change them. For this 
purpose, those who have the care of the horses always 
carry with them a sufficient quantity, which they affix to 
the portmanteaus. They may, however, be found in all 
the villages, and poor children who beg on the road even 
offer them for sale, so that it may be said that there are 


more farriers in this country than in any other ; though, 
to speak properly, there are none at all.' ' 

Captain Sherard Osborne, describing the equipment 
his steed carried on a journey, amongst many other arti- 
cles notes ' a string of the copper coin of the country, far 
too cumbrous for the pocket ; a clothes-brush and fly- 
flap ; a paper waterproof coat ; a broad-brimmed tile for 
heavy rain or strong sunlight ; and la.stlij, a hinidle of 
spare straw shoes for the horse! A noble's horse is thus 
painted : ' It is, indeed, a gorgeous creature ; its headstall 
richly ornamented with beautiful specimens of Japan skill 
and taste in casting, chasing, and inlaying in copper and 
bronze, the leather perfectly covered with these ornaments. 
The frontlet has a golden or gilt horn projecting. The 
mane is carefully plaited, and worked in with gold and 
silver, as well as silken threads. The saddle, which is a 
Japanese imitation in leather, lacquer, and inlaid bronze, 
of those in use amongst the Portuguese and Spaniards in 
the days of Albuquerque, is a perfect work of art, and 
only excelled in workmanship, weight, and value by the 
huge stirrups. The reins are of silk ; a rich scarlet net of 
the same material hangs over the animal's shoulders and 
crupper. The saddle-cloth is a leopard's skin ; and lastly, 
as a perfect finish, the long switch tail is encased in a 
blue-silk bag reaching nearly to the ground ; 2chilst, in- 
stead of the shoes being of ordinary straw, they are made 
of cotton and silk interwoven.' ^ 

And Sir Eutherford Alcock writes : ' Refreshed by our 
breakfast, we began to turn inland to the screen of hills 

' Hisloire du Japan. Amsterdam, 1732. 
" Japanese Fragments, p. 97. 


which skirt the bay, and soon came upon some roads as 
bad as any " Camincha real " in Spain. My horse's straw 
shoes, having already been half shuffled off, were tripping 
him up at ev^ery step, and compelled me to dismount in 
order to get rid of them altogether. An Englishman 
riding with the fore-feet of his horse muffled in straw slip- 
pers, might furnish a subject for "Punch." I am happy to 
say that at both the legations this absurdity has been got 
rid of, and means found of teaching the Japanese to shoe 
our horses properly with iron ; and more than one of the 
Daimios, I was told, had followed the good example.' ' 

High, black, and small hoofs are with the Japanese, as 
with the Greeks and Romans, in most favour, and for the 
same reasons. 

The massive, powerful black bulls of Japan, which 
carry immense loads on their backs, often have their feet 
encased in strong, half-tanned buskins, which lace round 
the leg ; probably these resemble the hippopodes of A|3- 

Captain Blakiston informs us, that near Chung-King, 
province of Sz'chuan, on the upper waters of the Great 
Yang-tsze, the cattle wore straw shoes to prevent their 
slipping on the wet ground.'' 

In the far north of China, as we will have occasion 
to notice hereafter, horses and cattle are shod with iron 
shoes and nails. 

Colonel Smith^ mentions, that in Iceland horses are 
occasionally shod by the peasants with sheep's horn ; cer- 

' The Capital of the Tycoon. London, 1863. 

" Five Months on the Yang-tsze, p. 214. London, 1862. 

' Naturahsts' Library, vol. xii. p. 129. 


tainly a step in advance of the sandal. In the valley of 
the Upper Oxus, towards Budukshan, the people shoe 
their horses with stag-horn. ' I heard of a singular prac- 
tice,' says Burnes/ ' among the people of these districts, 
who shoe their horses with the antlers of the mountain 
deer. They form the horn into a suitable shape, fix it on 
the hoof with horn pins, and never renew it till fairly worn 
out. It is said the custom is borrowed from the Kirghizzes.' 
Speaking of the Kirghiz, Wood writes : 'What flesh 
they consume is obtained by their matchlocks ; and the 
number of horns that strew Pamir bear evidence to the 
havoc they make among the wild flocks of the mountain. 
These horns being of a remarkably large size, supply shoes 
for the horses' feet, and are also a good substitute for 
stirrup-irons. The shoes are nothing more than a semi- 
circular piece of horn placed on the fore part of the hoof. 
When the horse is in constant work, it requires renewal at 
least once a week.'^ 

' Travels into Bokhara, vol. iii. p. i8o. 
' Journey to the Source of the River Oxus, p. 340. 









We have now reached a comparatively modern date 
in the history of the domestication of the horse, without 


discovering any incontrovertible evidence as to those who 
employed it having extended its usefulness by a durable 
armature to its vulnerable hoofs. All the authorities 
worthy of acceptance have been examined, and their testi- 
mony, taken as a whole, would lead to the belief that plates 
of iron or other metal, securely attached to the feet by nails, 
were not in use during the period of time over which our 
inquiry has extended ; these authorities have been histori- 
ans, agricultural and veterinary writers, and sculptors, who 
would, we may be almost certain, have left us ample 
testimony in this respect, had they been cognizant of the 
art. But we appear to have evidence that a very tem- 
porary and clumsy defence was resorted to, and which 
was more or less firmly fixed to the extremity by thongs 
and bands, or straps and buckles. 

Unfortunately, further inquiry is rendered all but 
nugatory on account of the dearth of historical or other 
records by which one might be enabled to pursue an un- 
interrupted investigation towards the period when iron 
shoes were attached by iron nails to the feet of horses, and 
that such an artisan as the faher ferrarius was needed to 
garnish the hoofs with these now indispensable append- 
ages. The third century saw the Roman Empire rapidly 
declining ; successive hordes of barbarians issuing from 
what are designated ' the frozen loins of the north,' be- 
gan to disturb the equilibrium of the western world, and 
to spread confusion and destruction everywhere. The 
Huns, originally of Tatar or Scythian origin, first made 
their presence felt in Europe about the middle of the 4th 
century, and about a hundred years later ravaged the 
continent far and near, under the leadership of their king. 


Attila, the ' Scourge of God.' With an immense army, 
the greater portion of which was cavalry, he invaded and 
laid under tribute the Roman emjDire, but not before 
devastating many of its provinces. After his death, this 
wandering people, who appear to have been largely com- 
posed of Kalmuck or Mongol Tatars, were without a 
leader, and, being broken up, formed themselves into a 
number of petty states, which continued to maintain their 
independence until the close of the eighth century, when 
they were subdued by Charlemagne. During these and 
subsequent centuries, well termed the ' Dark Ages,' learn- 
ing was at a low ebb, because of the disturbed condition 
of the civilized world, and the overthrow of kings and 
dynasties by the irruptions of these strange and less than 
semi-barbarous nations, who swept away or destroyed in 
their progress nearly everything valuable to future ages, 
leaving only the more salient and remarkable historical 
facts to be imperfectly described by a few monks or 
refugees. These were, for the most part, buried in cloisters 
or secluded spots, and had but few opportunities, even if 
they possessed the inclination or ability, to note the various 
changes which befell many of the arts, or chronicle those 
which appeared for the first time. So that it is not to be 
wondered at that the annalists of those days should be 
silent with regard to these foot defences, and that the first 
intimation of their existence should only be given at so 
late a date as the ninth century. 

The change of designation which was formerly em- 
ployed to indicate the coverings for the feet, ^ap^anvai, 
sx^arai, sQlecff, and iTTTroTrs^rjg, was that which first led 

investigators to the conclusion that our present method of 



shoeing was practised in the ninth century. From the 
ancient terms being much less frequently met with, it was 
surmised that the old-fashioned solea had gone out of use, 
and that the new armature, if it was adopted, must hav^e a 
particular designation of another kind to distinguish it. 
In the 'Tactica' of the Eastern Emperor Leo VI, sur- 
named the Philosopher (a.d. 886 — 911), there is a list of 
everything necessary for the equipment of a cavalry 
soldier, and amongst other articles are included ' lunar or 
crescent-shaped iron shoes and their nails.'' 

In the ' Tactica' of the Emperor Constantine Porphy- 
rogenitus, son of the former, the same passage also occurs,^ 
and in a book by this monarch on court ceremonies,.^ iron 
horse-shoes are mentioned on two occasions : first, when 
in speaking of the horses to be provided for the imperial 
stables, he directs that they are to be furnished with every- 
thing requisite, and to have (rs7vYjvciioi.^seIenaia ; and, 
secondly, where it is ordered that a certain weight of iron 
is to be issued from the imperial magazines for the purpose 
of making these iron shoes, and other articles of horse 

These are, so far as is known, the first instances that 
occur in history of horse-shoes, with their nails ; and it is 
somewhat remarkable, that about this period they are also 
noticed in the writings of Italian, French, English, and 

' Tactica Imperatoris Leonis, vol. v. cap. 4, p. 51. Leyden, 1612. 
' iriliKka aeX)]i'ala aidr]pd fxerd Kap<ptu)v — Ferra luiiatico cum clavis 

" ' Calceos lunatos ferreos cum ipsis corphiiSj id est, clavis.' Maffei, 
who translated an edition of this work, attributed it to Constantine, son 
of the Emperor Romanus Lecapenus. 

3 De Ceremoniis Aulae Byzantinse. Leipzig, 1754. 


other authors. We will refer to these at another time ; at 
present it is necessary to observe, that this mode of pre- 
serving horses' feet must have been in vogue long ages 
before it is casually alluded to by the Byzantine Emperors ; 
and in all likelihood was even practised by the Romans in 
the early centuries of our era, though their writers are 
silent wdth regard to it. 

For some years, the study of the ancient languages 
and of old monuments has assumed the dignity and 
position of a science, and has gradually introduced great 
modifications in the opinions held in regard to the primary 
phases of humanity ; while discoveries, conveniently and 
reasonably discussed, have brought into view other hori- 
zons, and given a novel direction to ethnologic research. 
This new science, which investigates the unwritten history 
of our race, and illustrates, in a most unequivocal manner, 
that which has been written, has been styled ' Ethnological 
Archaeology;' to it the discourse of our subject is already 
much indebted, as we will see presently. 

The researches of archaeologists and ethnologists have, 
in this and other countries, thrown much light on the 
manners and customs of the ancient inhabitants of Europe, 
and thus largely compensated for the absence of written 
documents ; and the result has been to carry back the 
probable date of the introduction of modern shoeing to a 
generation much beyond that supposed by inquirers, who 
relied solely on the evidence of Greek and Roman authors, 
and the creations of the sculptor's chisel. 

In the year 1655, Jean. Jacques Ghifflet published a 
description of what- "he supposed -to be thfe tomb of 
Childeric, father of Clovis^ distovjered 'at To'uriiay, in 


Belgium, in 1623.' This king, who lived in the fifth 
century, was the founder of the French monarchy ; and in 
the grave, with human bones, those of a horse, ornaments 
and equipments of various kinds, was also found what 
Chifflet believ^ed to be the remains of an iron horse-shoe. 
This article was in a state of extreme oxidation, and from 
the small fragment that could be preserved the author 
contrived to delineate an ordinary horse-shoe of the seven- 
teeath century. Chifflet, two years after the discovery, 
published his accoimt of it, in which he says : ' The re- 
mains of his (Childeric's) horse were found : the bones of 
the head, the teeth, cheek-bones, and an iron shoe ; but 
the latter was so eaten away by rust, that while I was 
trying to cleanse the nail holes — of which there were four 
on each side — with a small spike, the rotten iron broke in 
pieces, and could only be imperfectly restored.'^ This 
restored shoe has given rise to much dispute. Bracy 
Clark thought from its shape and size that it must have 
belonged to a mule ; forgetting that the use of such an 
animal for riding purposes in the age of the Merovingian 
kings, and by a king, was possibly as great a degradation 
as it is now-a-days to the Indians, or to the Bedouins, who 
sing — - 

Honourable is the riding of a horse to the rider. 
But the mule is a dishonour, and the ass a disgrace.^ 

' Anastasis Childerici. Auctore J. S. Chiffletio. Antwerp, 1655. 

' Op. cit. * Inventae sunt ejus equi reliquiae, capitis ossa, dentes, 
maxillae et ferrea solea, sed ita rubigine absumpta, ut dum veruculo 
clavorum fcram'na (quae utrinque quaterna erant) purgare leviter 
tentarem, ferfi\m putre, in- fragments* dissiluertt,''e^ ex parte duntaxat 
hie representari patuerit.' Page 223*. 

3 Fr6i*iS3rt, however, n'duld'ajipear to uidiciite tl\at in Spain, in the 


Douglas, in his ' Nenia Britannica,' throws great discredit 
on Chifflet's description, because of his not being present 
when the tomb was opened, and also because of the con- 
dition the various objects were in. When Douglas visited 
France in 1787, the shoe and some other articles were not 
to be found, which caused him to look with yet greater 
distrust on the whole account. 

The Abbe Cochet, an accomplished antiquarian, is 
also suspicious of this fragment of iron, which was so 
oxidized that it fell into powder on the slightest touch, 
and has entirely disappeared, being the remains of a horse- 
shoe ; he is more inclined to think it must have been a 
portion of the iron-mounting of a box, although the 
skeleton of a horse was found in the tomb. He bases 
his doubts on the fact, that in no Frankish grave has 
anything been discovered at all resembling an iron nailed 
shoe, and he is of opinion that the Franks did not shoe 
their small and coarse-bred horses.' 

middle ages, it was not derogatory even for a king to ride a mule. 
Immediately before the battle of Navarette, he mentions King Henry 
' mounted on a handsome and strong mule, according to the custom of 
his country,' riding through the ranks, paying his compliments to the 
lords and knights, and entreating them to exert themselves in defending 
his honour. — Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, vol. iii. p. 302. 
London, 1806. 

' Jusqu'ici, rien ne s'est montre plus rare dans les sepultures franques 
que les sabots ou les fers de chevaux. En effet, sur les trois ou quatre 
chevaux que nous avons trouves a Envermeu, nous n'avons jamais ren- 
contre de fers et pourtant les jambes ne manquaient pas. En revanche, 
nous avons trouve des boucles et des mors bien caracterises. M. Lin- 
denschmit, a, Selsen, a rencontre un squelette de cheval, mais sans fer. 
II en a ete de meme a Sinsheim, a Ascherade, a Langweid, a Norden- 
dorf J dans cette derniere localite, on a trouve trois squelettes avec brides, 
mais toujours sans fers. MM. Durrich et Menzel, dans la fouille si in- 


Montfauqon, however, believed it to be really a horse- 
shoe, and adds, ' the shoe is small ; whence it is conjectured 
the animal it belonged to was of a diminutive size.' And 
in reply to the objection that the Franks did not shoe 
their horses, he replies : ' Perhaps only the greatest persons 
had their horses shod in those times ; and afterwards, 
probably when the practice of shoeing was more general, 
the Franks only shod their cavalry occa.sio)iaJijj, as in 
frost, for example, in the ninth century.' 

In the accompanying 

copy of this restored, but 

doubtful, shoe (fig. 5), it will 

be seen that there was but a 

slender instalment to base 

such an outline upon, Mont- 

fauqon says, in explanation of 

the drawing : ' The horse- 

\ /^.. / shoe of Childeric has been 

'■"""' ^^/ here represented entire, al- 

%• 5 though only a portion of it 

teressante d'Oberflacht, ont rencontre un equipement complet de cheval 

sans fer Le fer de Childeric 1", ainsi que les squelettes de 

chevaux francs trouves en AUemagne, prouve que cette race etait petite, 
ce qui est confirme par Tacite : 

Equi (eorum) non forma conspicui. 

Namur, rapporteur des fouilles de Dalheim, dit : ' II parait etabii que les 
chevaux gaulois des premiers siecles de I'ere chrotienne elaient de petits 
chevaux de selle, demi-sauvages, a petits sabots durs et retrecis, comme le 
sont encore aujourd'hui les chevaux denii-sauvages eleves dansl'Ukraine 
et dans les steppes qui avoisinent la mer Caspienne.' — Le Toinleau de 
Childark r. Paris, 1862. 


has been found ; but by this piece it is easy (?) to 
judge of the size of the whole. The horse was a small' 
one.' ' 

Since Chifflet's publication appeared, relics of races 
whose history has never been written, and whose story has 
never been told, have been found in various parts of 
Europe and in our own country; and among these not 
unfrequently have appeared horse-shoes of a primitive, 
peculiar, and somewhat marked form, which plainly indi- 
cates that they are of high antiquity. The researches of 
archaeologists, carefully and skilfully conducted, have, in 
many instances, led us to form an estimate of their age ; 
but in other cases we are left much in doubt, from their 
not accompanying any remains which can be traced to 
any race or epoch, and also from their often occurring 
with relics which mark no particularly definite period. 

One source from whence these memorials of an age 
long passed have been derived, has been the graves, crom- 
lechs, tumuli, barrows, kists, or cairns, as the last resting- 
places of primitive peoples have been variously named ; 
and their presence there has been due to the prevalence of 

' Op. Cit. ' Solea ferrea equi regii hie tota repraesentatur, etsi pars 
ejus tautum reperta sit ; sed ex ilia parte totius formam excipere hand 
difficile fiiit. Modicae magnitudinis equus erat, ut jam diximus.' 

Elsewhere he says : ' Parmi les pieces que nous venous de dccrire 
se trouverent aussi le crane, la niachoire et les dens du cheval de 
Childeric aver loie partie diifer d'un pied, qui f'aisoit juger que ce cheval 
etoit assez peiit. On voit souvent des chevaux de mediocre taille, qui 
pour la vigueur, la forme et la gentillesse, passent les plus grands. 
On y mit apparemraent celui que Childeric aimoit le plu^j. La cou- 
tume de ces anciens peuples etoit d'tnterrer avec les hommes les chevaux 
et les autres animaux qui eloient a leur usage, et qu'ils aimoient le 
plus.' — Les Monuwens de la Monanhie Fraugn'hH', p. 235. 


a custom which shows that the early inhabitants of many 
parts of Europe were horse-loving nations, from whom 
the noble creature could not be separated, even by death. 
I allude to the interment of horses with the mighty dead, 
the fame of whose deeds was not allowed to pass to our 
time, and whose bones, fragments of weapons, or adorn- 
ment, and the silent evidence of their friendship for the 
horse, alone remain to denote their having once upon a 
time existed. To a certain extent, the horse-shoes found 
in graves are trustworthy testimony to the antiquity of 
nail-shoeing, and the degree to which it prevailed. 

The practice of burying the horse with his master is 
extremely ancient, and general to a most wonderful extent. 
With the Greeks, as with ourselves, horses served to 
heighten the solemnity of death. Homer tells us, that 
when the Greeks were mourning for Patroclus, 

Thrice round the dead they drove their sleek-skinn'd steeds. 
Mourning ! 

and the body of that warrior being consigned to the 

round the edges of the pyre, 
Horses and men commix'd. 


In the funeral feasts of his people, which are represented 
on funeral monuments, the image of a horse's head was 
usually placed in one corner, as an emblem that death was 
a journey. 

Among the ancient Germans, the body of the dead 
warrior was consumed in the flames of a particular kind of 


wood, and only the arms of the deceased, with his horse, 
were given to the flames with him ; then a mound of 
earth was heaped up over all/ Caesar speaks of Celtic 
tribes as burying with the dead their most valuable pos- 
sessions, and sacrificing human beings, probably, also, the 

In Celtic, Slavonic, and German graves or cairns, 
horses' bones are expected to be found. At Mecklen- 
burg the presence of horse-remains is not unfrequent. In a 
barrow on the Baltic coast, the skeleton of a very tall man 
was discovered eight feet below the surface or summit of 
the mound ; and beside the skull, on the left side, lay bones 
of a horse's head, and several flint knives at the top and 
bottom. More than a dozen human skeletons lay around 
in a circle, the skulls inwards towards the principal one, 
and a number of stone weapons. At another place a stone 
cairn was opened in which were two graves ; in both were 
arms, stone implements and weapons, amber ornaments, 
and the remains of unburnt horses' bones. Similar remains 
were found in other stone cairns. At Calbe, near the 
former place, Wagner discovered the skeleton of a horse, 
surrounded by at least twenty urns, in a grave marked on 
the surface by three large stones. Wilhelm mentions a 
grave in which the skull of a skeleton rested on the cra- 
nium of a horse, and the other bones of the animal lay 
around the grave. In tombs supposed to belong to the 
Alemannic tribes, this antiquarian discovered similar re- 

At Selzen, on the Rhine, Lindenschmidt found a 

' Tacitus. Chap. 27. 


horses skull in the resting- 
place of a primitive warrior 
(fig. 6).' 

In the vicinity of Ham- 
burg, graves which were sup- 
posed to belong to what is 
termed the ' iron period ' were 
opened, and horses' bones were 
found. At Nienburg, horse 
and human bones were met 
with, mingled together, in a 
cairn belonging to the same 

The Slavonians sacrificed 
horses on their graves; for the 
Arabian traveller, Ibn Fozlan, 
was a witness to this practice 
in the loth cen- 
tury, at the fu- 
neral of a Rus- 
sian prince. The 
and Samogi- 
tians did the 
same ; and the 
Finn and other 

Mongolian ^^ ^ 

races, among which may be reckoned the Tschuds, 
generally buried their horses with the dead. The re- 
mains of horses are very often found in the graves of 
' Das Germanische Todtenlager Bei Selzeii. Plate 8. Mainz, 1848- 


the tribes who formerly tenanted Liefland. Marco Polo, 
in alluding to the custom of interring the bodies of the 
chiefs of the race of Ghengis Khan at a certain lofty- 
mountain, no matter where they may have died, adds ._ 
' It is likewise the custom, during the progress of re- 
moving the bodies of these princes, for those who form 
the escort to sacrifice such persons as they may chance 
to meet on the road, saying to them, " Depart for 
the next world, and there attend upon your deceased 
master," being impressed with the belief that all whom 
they thus slay do actually become his servants in the next 
life. They do the same also with respect to horses, killing 
the best of the stud, in order that he may have the use of 
them.' This was in the 13th century. 

Tumuli containing the remains of horses and men are 
met with in Central Asia and Siberia. The vast plains of 
these regions have ever been nurseries for horse-loving 
nations. This sacrifice and burial of horses, was par- 
ticularly practised by the early northern nations, but 
especially by the Scandinavians. When a hero or chief 
fell gloriously in battle, his funeral obsequies were hon- 
oured with all possible magnificence. His arms, his gold 
and silver, his war-horse, and whatever else he held most 
dear, were placed with him on the pile. His dependents 
and friends frequently made it a point of honour to die 
with their leader, in order to attend on his shade in the 
palace of Odin ; for nothing seemed to them more grand 
and noble than to enter Valhalla with a numerous retinue, 
all in their finest armour and richest apparel. The princes 
and nobles never failed of such attendants. The warrior 
and his horse were to salute the god in the regions of ever- 


lasting war and feasting. They believed, because Odin 
himself had assured them, that whatever was buried or con- 
sumed with the dead, accompanied them to his palace. 
And another reason why the horse was buried with them was, 
that they durst not approach the palace of Odin on foot.' 
Probably this was a wise feature introduced into their re- 
ligion, to impress upon them the value of cavalry, and a 
high regard for the services of the horse. At the funerals 
of Harold Hildetand and Skalagrim, horses were sacrificed 
to accompany these doughty warriors. 

Balder, the beautiful and youthful god of eloquence 
and just decision, the innocent who appears brilliant as the 
lily, and in honour of whom the whitest flower received 
the name of Baldrian, was slain with a spear of the misletoe 
by the blind god Hoder, whose violent deeds the gods 
never forget, but whose name they never hear pronounced. 
The Prose Edda thus refers to his funeral : ' Balder's body 
was then borne to the funeral pile on board the ship, and 
this ceremony had such an effect on Nana, the daughter 
of Nep, that her heart broke with grief, and her body was 

burnt on the same pile as her husband's Balder's 

horse was led to the pile fully caparisoned, and consumed 
in the same flames with the body of his master.' Long- 
fellow has beautifully described this scene : 

' They laid him in his ship 
With horse and harness. 
As on a funeral pyre. 
Odin placed 
A ring upon his finger, 
And whisper' d in his ear. 

' Mallet. Northern Antiquities. 1847. 


They launch'd the burning ship, 

It floated far away 

O'er the misty sea. 

Till like the moon it seem'd. 

Sinking beneath the waves. 

Balder returned no more ! ' 

It is curious to note, that among the Sea Dyaks of 
Borneo, the dead chief is placed in his canoe, with his 
favourite weapons and principal property, and is then 
turned adrift. 

In the Scandinavian barrows, great quantities of horses' 
bones are found with human skeletons. The only pleasure 
and business of life with these old turbulent spirits, was 
war ; and their political, domestic, and religious institutions 
were all founded on this characteristic. A warrior, there- 
fore, could not but fight well when the pleasures after 
death were, as his religion taught him, those which he most 
relished during life. ' The heroes who are received into 
the palace of Odin,' says the Edda, 'have every day the 
pleasure of arming themselves, of passing in review, of 
ranging themselves in order of battle, and of cutting one 
another in pieces ; but as soon as the hour of repast ap- 
proaches, they return on horseback all safe and sound 
to the hall of Odin, and fall to eating and drinking.' 

With the Danes the age of tumuli or hillocks was 
styled Hoigold and Hoielse-tlide. The corpse was buried 
with all the arms he had wielded or worn during life, and 
all his ornaments ; and his horse was killed and laid be- 
side him. 

The Patagonians, to whom the horse is, comparatively 
speaking, a novelty, also inter it in their burial-places, and 
the stories about the immense size of these people probably 


originated from the circumstance that this animal's bones 
were mistaken for those of the Patagonians. And the 
Red Indian desires the company of his steed, when the 
Great Spirit calls him to the hunting-grounds beyond the 
setting sun. Longfellow has celebrated the burial of the 
Minnisink, an Indian chief, in some of his happiest verses. 

' Behind, the long procession came 
Of hoary men and chiefs of fame. 
With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief. 
Leading the war-horse of their chief. 

Stripp'd of his proud and martial dress, 
Uncurb'd, unrein'd, and riderless. 
With darting eye, and nostril spread. 
And heavy and impatient tread. 
He came ; and oft that eye so proud 
Ask'd for his master in the crowd. 

They buried the dark chief 5 they freed 
Beside the grave his battle steed ; 
And swift an arrow cleaved its way 
To his stern heart ! One piercing neigh 
Arose — and, on the dead man's plain. 
The rider grasps his steed again.' 

In Central Africa, for lack of horses, other creatures 
accompany the deceased, if he be a wealthy individual.' 

In France, as we have already mentioned, and as will 
be again referred to, this mode of sepulture was common 

' ' When a Wanyamwezi dies in a strange country, and his comrades 
take the trouble to '^inter him, they turn the face of the corpse towards 
the mother's village, a proceeding which shows more sentiment than 
might be expected from them. The body is buried standing, or tightly 
bound in a heap, or placed in a sitting position with the arms clasping 
the knees 3 if the deceased be a great man, a sheep and a bullock are 
slaughtered for a funeral feast, the skin is placed over his face, and the 
hide is bound to his back. 


among the ancient Gauls, and horses and other creatures 
were sacrificed. ' When they have conquered,' writes 
Ca?sar, ' they sacrifice whatever captured animals may 
have survived the conflict.' ' Their funerals, considering 
the state of civilization among the Gauls, are magnifi- 
cent and costly ; and they cast into the fire all things, 
including living creatures, which they suppose to have 
been dear to them when alive ; and a little before this 
period, slaves and dependents who were ascertained to have 
been beloved by them, were, after the regular funeral rites 
were completed, burnt together with them.'' 

With regard to Britain, Sir John Lubbock^ remarks, 
that the very frequent presence of the bones of animals in 
tumuli appears to show that, with prehistoric man, se- 
pulchral feasts were generally held in honour of the dead; 
and the numerous cases in which interments were accom- 
panied by burnt human bones, tend to prove the preva- 
lence of still more dreadful customs, and that not only 
horses and dogs, but slaves also, were frequently sacrificed 
at their masters' graves. 

All the remains of horses found in prehistoric barrows 

* The chiefs of Unyamwezi generally are interred by alarge assem- 
blage of their subjects with cruel rites. A deep pit is sunk, with a kind 
of vault or recess projecting from it ; in this the corpse, clothed with 
skin and hide, and holding a bow in the right hand, is placed sitting, 
with a pot of pombe, upon a dwarf stool, while sometimes one, but 
more generally three female slaves, one on each side and the third in 
front, are buried alive to preserve their lord from the horrors of solitude.' 
— Burton. The Lake Regions of Central Africa, vol. ii. 

According to Crantz, the Esquimaux lay a dog's head by the grave 
of a child, for the soul of a dog, say they, can find its way everywhere, 
and will show the ignorant babe the way to the land of souls. 

' Bell. Gallic, lib. vi. cap. 17, 19. "^ Prehistoric Times, p. 115. 


are probably those belonging to a domesticated race. The 
antiquity of the horse in England is yet doubtful ; and if 
we are to place any reliance on the results of researches in 
these barrows, we might conclude that horses were very 
rare, if not altogether unknown, during that period styled 
the stone age ; but during the metallic period his remains 
are frequently met with. 

Mr Bateman' concludes, from his researches among 
the most ancient burial-places, that he does not know in 
what light the primitive inhabitants of our country may 
have looked upon the horse, viewed as a creature of suf- 
ficient importance to be necessary for their use and hap- 
piness in a future state, but certain it is, that however rude 
and degraded this belief in another world may have been, 
the teeth, if not some of the bones, of horses have been 
found in primitive British tumuli, particularly those of 
Derbyshire ; and which have no history but their strange 

Two Celtic graves opened in Yorkshire contained 
skeletons of horses ; and in graves of the Anglo-Saxon 
period they have also been found.'' The Hon. C. Neville, 
describing the remains found in a cemetery near Little 
Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire, in 1 85 i, remarks : ' Mention 
should here be made of an instance similar to one de- 
scribed by Sir Henry Dryden (ArchcTsologia, vol. xxxiii.), 
viz. : the entire body of a horse, interred by the side of his 
rider, with a perfect iron bit still remaining on its head, 
and some small stud nails, with fragments of a leather head- 
stall' ^ 

' Ten Years' Diggings. * Knowles. Horae Ferales, p. 6jJ. 

^ Saxon Obsequies, p. 9. 


With the Celts, it appears that it was not unfrequently 
the custom to place in the warrior's tomb, besides his 
horse, one or two wheels of the chariot, and sometimes the 
whole carriage and harness. At Alaise, in France, and 
among the tombs of Anet, Switzerland, this has been 

If my memory serves me right, the remains of a 
chariot found in a tomb are now in the York Museum. 

Unfortunately, as Mr Knowles observes, these remains 
of horses in graves do not constitute any distinguishing 
mark of time or race, as the slaughter and burial of horses 
appear to have belonged to almost all nations and all 
ages ; the custom extending from the Tschuds of the 
Altai and the Crim Tartars to the Franks and Saxons ; 
even in the sarcophagi of Christian knights, buried in 
churches during the Middle Ages, besides their own 
weapons and bones, the less perishable parts of their steeds 
are there. So late as the eighteenth century the custom 
was in vogue, for a martial and Christian order of knight- 
hood, in 1 78 1, laid Frederick Casimir in his grave with 
his slaughtered horse beside him. In 1866, Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria's huntsman died ; his old and favourite 
horse was destroyed, and the animal's ears were deposited 
on his late master's coffin before the earth had shut him 
out from the world. 

And still more unfortunately for our subject, these 
remains of the gentle soliped do but seldom testify to 
the existence of nail-pierced hoofs and a metallic mount- 
ing. From shoes being nearly always manufactured of 
iron, that metal oxidizes so rapidly, that in the presence 

' Trnyon. Habitations Lacustres, p. 334. Lausanne, i860. 



of moisture a thin plate would not be long in rusting to 
powder. And those who have had the superintendence 
of these disinterments have not, it is to be feared, been 
always careful enough to direct their attention to such an 
insignificant matter as the condition of the hoofs, when 
these were yet intact. 

From their situation, and the remains accompanying 
the horse-shoes found in certain regions, as well as from 
their later history, there is every reason to believe that the 
Celts or Celta^, and their chief branch, the Gauls or Gael, 
were cognizant of the art of shoeing with metal and nails 
at a very remote period, and before they were conquered 
by the Romans under Cassar. 

The early history of this great nation is lost in the 
thick haze of antiquity. Originally a section of the Aryan 
family, at some very distant period they left Asia and 
spread themselves over various parts of Europe in their 
descent from the Caucasus and along the south side of 
the Danube. Several Celtic tribes took possession of 
different countries under various names ; others settled on 
the shores of the Adriatic, along the banks of the Danube, 
and in the southern part of Germany ; while the principal 
branch of the nation located itself between the Pyrenees 
and the Alps, the ocean and the Rhine, in the country 
which received its name from them ; from thence they 
passed into Albion and lerne (Great Britain and Ireland). 
Everything relating to their history at this time is so ob- 
scure, that we have sometimes little but conjecture to aid 
us in tracing their migrations. It would appear, neverthe- 
less, that the eastern Gauls or Celts who passed along the 
Danube occasioned the migrations of whole nations, and 


that about b.c. 300 they had already absorbed a part of the 
German race named the Cimri, or Cimbri. Defeated, 
however, in Greece, at an attack on the temple of Apollo at 
Delphi, destruction awaited them, and with the exception of 
several tribes who passed into Asia Minor, and assumed the 
name of Galatians, we hear little or nothing of the Celts on 
the Danube or the south of Germany. Tribes of German 
origin occupied the whole country as far as the Rhine? 
and even beyond that river. But the Cimbri, a mixed 
race of Gauls and Germans, whom the Gauls themselves 
designated Belgae, occupied the whole northern part of 
Gaul, from the Seine and Marne to the British Channel, 
from whence they passed over into Britain. Here they 
drove back those Gauls who had made themselves masters 
of the country at an earlier period, to North Britain 
(Scotland), where the latter afterwards appear under the 
name of Caledonians or Highland Gaels, and still later 
as the Picts and Scots.' These Belgse or Gallo-Cimbri 
are, in fact, the ancient Britons, the inhabitants of the 
land of the Cymry. 

The Emperor Napoleon'' concisely sums up their 
history in the following words : ' There are peoples whose 
existence in the past only reveals itself by certain brilliant 
apparitions, unequivocal proofs of an energy which had 
been previously unknown. During the interval their 
history is involved in obscurity, and they resemble those 
long silent volcanoes, which we should take to be extinct 
but for the eruptions which, at periods far apart, occur 
and expose to view the hre which smoulders in their 
bosom. Such had been the Gauls. The accounts of 

' Popular Encvclopredia, pt. 5. " Vie de Caesar, vol. ii. p. i. 

8 * 


their ancient expeditions bear witness to an organization 
already powerful, and to an ardent spirit of enterprise. 
Not to speak of migrations which date back perhaps nine 
or ten centuries before our era, we see at the moment 
when Rome was beginning to aim at greatness, the Celts 
spreading themselves beyond their frontiers. In the time 
of Tarquin the Elder (Years of Rome, 138 to 176), two 
expeditions started from Celtic Gaul : one proceeded 
across the Rhine and Southern Germany, to descend upon 
Illyria and Pannonia (now JFestern Hungary); the other, 
scaling the Alps, established itself in Italy, in the country 
lying between those mountains and the Po. The invaders 
soon transferred themselves to the right bank of that river, 
and nearly the whole of the territory comprised between 
the Alps and the Apennines took the name of Cisalpine 
GaiiL More than two centuries afterwards, the descend- 
ants of those Gauls marched upon Rome and burnt it all 
but the Capitol. Still a century later (475), we see new 
bands issuing from Gaul, reaching Thrace by the valley of 
the Danube, ravaging Northern Greece, and bringing 
back to Toulouse the gold plundered from the Temple of 
Delphi. Others, arriving at Byzantium, pass into Asia, 
establish their dominions over the whole region on this 
side Mount Taurus, since called Gallo-Gi'cecia, or Galatia, 
and maintain in it a sort of military feudalism until the 
time of the war of Antiochus. 

' These facts, obscure as they may be in history, prove 
the spirit of adventure and the warlike genius of the 
Gaulish race, which thus, in fact, inspired a general terror. 
During nearly two centuries, from 364 to 531, Rome 
struggled against the Cisalpine Gauls, and more than 


once the defeat of her armies placed her existence in 

Cicero says : ' From the beginning of our Republic, 
all our wise men have looked upon Gaul as the most 
redoubtable enemy of Rome.' 

' The Romans,' says Sallust, ' held then, as in our days, 
the opinion that all other peoples must yield to their 
courage ; but that with the Gauls it was no longer for 
glory, but for safety, that they had to fight.' 

When the nations we term classical first became ac- 
quainted with the northern races, German and Celt had 
long been in possession of iron, and formed all their war- 
like weapons of that metal. Indeed, they were far from 
being the barbarians historians have often represented 
them. M. Fournet remarks : 'The Gauls were no more 
savages than the Germans ; the Romans found with these 
people arts hitherto unknown to them, and the barbarism 
only existed with the sworn calumniators of other nations.'' 

Among the Gauls, in the north, the breeding of cattle 
was the principal occupation,^ and the pastures of Belgic 
Gaul produced a race of excellent horses. ^ In the centre 
and in the south the richness of the soil was augmented 
by productive mines of gold, silver, copper, iron, and lead.* 
The country was, without doubt, intersected by carriage 
roads, since the Gauls possessed a great number of all 
sorts of waggons,^ since there still remain traces of Celtic 

' Le Miiieur. Lyons, 1863. "" Slrabo, p. 163 j edit. Didot. 

3 De Bello Gallico, lib. iv. 2. ■* Strabo, pp. 121, 155, 170. 

5 ' Carpenta Gallorum.' (Florus, i. 13.) — ' Pliirinia Gallica (verba) 
valueruut, ut reda petorritum.' (Quintilian, De Itistitutioiie Oratoria, 
lib. i. cap. V. 57.) — 'Petorritum enim est non ex Graecia dimidiatum, 
sed totum trausalpibus, nam est vox Gallica. Id scriptum est in libro 


roads, and since Caesar makes known the existence of 
bridges on the Aisne, the Rhine, the Loire, the Allier, and 
the Seine. 

Their skill in agriculture appears to have astonished 
the Romans. While the latter were using a most primi- 
tive plough, Pliny writes of the Gauls : ' There has been 
invented, at a comparatively recent period, in that part 
of Gaul known as Rhastia (Gallia Togata), a plough with 
the addition of two small wheels, and known by the name 
of " plaumorati " (supposed to be derived from the Belgic 

ploum, a plough, and rat or radt, a wheel) The 

Gauls have invented a method of carrying their plough 
on small wheels. Their ploughshare, which is flat like a 
shovel, ploughs very well through the soil. A pair of 
oxen suffice. After sowing the seed, they harrow with a 
kind of iron hurdle with s})ikes or teeth, and which is 
dragged over the ground.' From the various notices of 
Gaulish agriculture given by ancient writers, we are led to 
believe that this people were the most skilled in tilling the 
soil of all the Western nations. 

They were naturally agriculturists, and we may sup- 
pose that the institution of private property existed among 
them, because, on the one hand, all the citizens paid the 
tax, except the Druids, and, on the other, the latter were 

M. Varronis quarto decimo Rerum Divinarum ; quo in loco Varro, 
quum de petorrito dixisset, esse id verbum Gallicum dixit ' (Aulus Gel- 
lius, XV. 30.) — ' Petoritum et Gallicum vehiculum est, et nomen ejus 
dictum esse existimant a numero quatuor rotarum. Alii Osce, quod 
hie quoque petora quatuor vocent. Alii Grsece sed aloXiKibQ dictum.' 
(Festus, voc. Petoritum, p. 206, edit, Miiller.) — ' Belgica esseda, Gal- 
licana vehiculae. Nam Belga civitas est Galliae in qua hujusmodi 
vehiculi repertus est usus,' (Servius, Commentaries on the Georgics of 
Virgil, lib. iii. v. 204.) 


judges of questions of boundaries. They were not un- 
acquainted with certain manufactures. In some countries 
they fabricated serges, which were in great repute, and 
cloths or felts ; in others they worked the mines with skill, 
and employed themselves in the fabrication of metals. 
The Bituriges worked in iron, and were acquainted with 
the art of tinning. The artificers of Alesia plated copper 
with silver leaf to ornament horses' bits and trappings.' 

They were also excellent workers in gold, of which 
they made bracelets, leg-rings, collars, and even breast- 

In the time of Cassar, the greater part of the peoples 
of Gaul were armed with long iron swords, two-edged 
{(TTraSrj), sheathed in scabbards similarly of iron, suspended 
to the side by chains. These swords were generally made 
to strike with the edge rather than to stab. The Gauls 
had also spears, the iron of which, very long and very 
broad, presented sometimes an undulated form (materis, 
(rauviQv). Their helmets were of metal, more or less 
precious, ornamented with the horns of animals, and with 
a crest representing some figures of birds or savage beasts. 
They carried a great buckler, a breast-plate of iron or 
bronze, or a coat of mail — the latter a Gaulish invention. 

Diodorus Siculus^ says that the Gauls had iron coats 
of mail. He adds : ' Instead of glaive {^i^og), they have 
long swords (o-Tra^rj), which they carry suspended to their 
right side by chains of iron or bronze. Some bind their 

' Pliny, xxxiv. 17. Delude et argentum iiicoquere simili modo 
coepere, equorum maxime ornamentis, jumentorumque ac jugorum, in 
Alesia oppido. 

* Diodorus Siculus, v. 27. "* Ibid. v. 30. 


tunics with gilt or silvered girdles. They have spears 
(Xoy^^Tj or Xoyp^iV) having an iron blade a cubit long, and 
sometimes more. The breadth is almost two palms, for 
the blade of these saunions (the Gaulish dart) is not less 
than that of our glaive, and it is a little longer. Of these 
blades, some are forged straight, others present undulated 
curves, so that they not only cut in striking, but in ad- 
dition they tear the wound when they are drawn out.'' 

Polybius informs us, that in the battle in which the 
Gauls were defeated by the Consul iEmilius, when the 
Romans used swords of bronze, those of the Gauls were 
long, but so badly tempered that they bent when the 
Gallic warriors struck a hard blow against the Roman 
armour. It would appear from this observation that the 
Gaulish swords were made of iron, but that the art of 
tempering them was unknown. 

The priests of the Celts were the learned men and 
philosophers of these people. Besides their other im- 
portant functions, and attending to their mysterious rites, 
they alone afforded instruction in religious matters and all 
other kinds of knowledge, the art of war excepted. There 
can scarcely be any doubt as to their possessing an extensive 
knowledge of metallurgy, particularly with regard to iron, 
the more valuable secrets being closely retained by these 
priests. ' The Druids,' says M. Eckstein, ' forged a double 
kind of sword and lance, the religious arms — the glaive of 
honour, and the deadly weapons — the sword and lance of 
combat.' ^ 

As before mentioned, the Romans were not an eques- 

' Vie de Caesar, vol. ii. pp. 0^6, 39. 

^ Eckstein. Anciennes Poesies des Gaels, p. 152. 


trian people, and for a long period had but few cavalry ; 
indeed, not until Numidia and Gaul had become Roman 
provinces had they a respectable cavalry force. The 
Gauls were fond of the horse, and were good horsemen ; 
their cavalry was much superior to their infantry, being 
composed of nobles, followed by their own people/ The 
cavalry was styled ' Trimarkisi^' (tri-marcli-ke,sec, Celtic 
for three horses combined), in consequence of each soldier 
having the attendance of three horses. Pausanias, men- 
tioning that every Celtic horseman was followed to battle 
by two attendants, says that this custom was in their lan- 
guage called ' Trimarkisian,' because the name of a horse 
among them is markan.'' Mark or march is also a horse, 
tri is three, and trimarkwys is literally three horsemen in 
the ancient British and present Welsh. 

The same writer, speaking of those who had reached 
Delphi, says that ' each of the horsemen had with him two 
esquires, who were also mounted on horses ; when the 
cavalry was engaged in combat, these esquires were posted 
behind the main body of the army, either to replace the 
horsemen who were killed, or to give their horse to their 
companion if he lost his own, or to take his place in case 
he were wounded, while the other esquire carried him out 
of the battle.' 

These equestrian habits of the Celtic Gauls are con- 
firmed by a large number of proofs, historic and archaeo- 
logic. Not only does the Celtic name for the horse, 
' march,' form the root of a long list of districts, towns, 
nations, and individuals, but also all the terms employed 
in cavalry or the manege, and even those hippiatric 

' Strabo, iv. p. 163. ^ Phocid. x. 545. 


expressions employed by the Greeks and Romans, were 

All the Gaulish medals bear the figure of a horse, 
often accompanied by that of a boar. The sacrifice of a 
white horse was the greatest oblation that could be offered 
to the gods of these people ; and the many statuettes of 
horses found in various places would tend to prove that a 
mysterious importance was attached to this noble creature. 
The Gauls, as before noticed, buried their chiefs and 
warriors with their weapons, their dogs, and their war- 
horses, for on their steeds they were to ride when they 
entered the abode of everlasting felicity. 

The numerous cairns, or Celtic tombs, which abound 
in Brittany and Franche-Comte, show that this custom 
widely prevailed. 

'The Gauls,' CcEsar writes, 'were so fond of their 
horses, and valued them so highly, that the German allies 
could not procure them for their service.'^ 

' Megnin. Op. cit. p. 14. As illustrative of this fact, we may 
give the following examples. Names of countries : Denmark ; of 
people: Marsi, Marcomanni ; namesof places : Penmark, Markhausen, 
Kienigsmark, Mark of Bra?idenburg, Marca, Marca Trevisana, Kur- 
niark, Mlttlemark, Neumark, Altmark, Vormark, Ukerviarh, and Stier- 
viark. Marches, or frontiers, such as the Welsh and Scotch marches, 
the Marche de Limousin in France, and Marchfield in Austria} the places 
where the standards of the northern people were arrested, and repre- 
sented by a horse. The term also signifies a market for horses, and the 
German jalir-niarckt, or annual fair, always denoted one where horses 
were sold. Individuals : French Marquis, German Markgraf. Cavalry 
terms : Poleniark, commander of a body of troops ; marechal (qui 
equorum gerit curam, qui proest stabulo) 5 merchant, marchand, horse- 
dealer. For the Celtic etymology of terms used by the hippiatrists, 
see Recueil de Mcdecine Velerinaire, 1858. 

^ Megnin. At the great battle before Alesia, the Roman cavalry 
was composed cxt:lusively of German allies. — Ccosar, Commentaries. 


The liorses of Treves and the country of the Soutiates 
(Bigorre) were the most renowned in the time of Caesar, 
and those also of Franche-Comte bore a high reputation. 
' Under the Romans,' says Clerc/ ' Sequani, the most fer- 
tile part of Gaul, according to Caesar, had large fine towns 
noted for their commerce and wealth. In the country, 
although covered in great part by forests, there were, 
chiefly along the rivers' banks and public roads, villages, 
hamlets, and cottages, the robust and industrious in- 
habitants of which grew barley, reared flocks of sheep and 
droves of pigs, and especially fine horses, the best in 

Gaul In the midst of the Roman customs and 

institutions, I do not know if, in Sequani, anything more 
national predominated than the ever-ruling passion of the 
people for horses, which figure on all their medals, and 
their horsemanship, from which the town of Mandeure 
(now a little village on the Doubs near Besanqon ; it 
was destroyed in the tenth century by the Hungarians) 
took its name, " Epomanduodurum," signifying the town 
where they managed horses well, Epona being the Celtic 
goddess of horses.' 

It is, then, very evident that when the Romans came 
in contact with the Gauls, the horse was largely and widely 
employed in that country for riding and draught pur- 
poses. The ' petoritum ' (Celtic petoar, four, and rot, 
wheel) was evidently a native vehicle, but the 'esseda' 
was the chariot most used in warfare, immense num- 
bers always figuring in every Celtic army ; and these 
armies dragged after them a multitude of waggons and 

' Essai sur I'Histoire de la Franche-Cuinlc. 


other conveyances, even in the less important expedi- 

From the extensive employment of chariots, roads 
must necessarily have existed in Gaul, — and, as we have 
seen, this was the case ; only these roads, instead of being 
like those of the Romans, which were substantial works of 
masonry, were formed, it would appear, by the never- 
ceasing passage of carriages over the same track. The 
traces of these, however, only exist in rocky situations, 
which have preserved the imprint of wheels, and even 
oi horses feet. These impressions are sometimes so deep, 
in consequence of the long and oft-repeated action of the 
carriages during centuries, that, in certain places, the road 
is literally channeled or trenched ; and on the stony sides 
of these passes, marks can be plainly seen which have been 
caused by the axletrees scraping them in passing through. 
These marks testify to the height of the nave, and con- 
sequently of the wheels. 

MM. Delacroix and Castan, with Captain Bial of the 
French artillery, have lately discovered good specimens of 
these Celtic roads in the Jura, at Trochatay, Moutier- 
Granval, and Alaise. ' At the latter place the road is most 
characteristic, where it leads from the valley to the summit 
of a hill on which stood this old Gallic city. How can the 
extraordinary effects produced on the living rock by horses' 
feet be explained, if we do not admit that from remote an- 
tiquity iron shoes were in use ?' So asks M. Megnin, and 
apparently with good cause. We have before remarked, 
that not the faintest trace of wear which could be attributed 
to horses' feet has been found on any of the Roman roads, 

' Ca'sar. De Bello Gallica, viii. 14. 


and probably for the simple reason that horn is softer than 
stone. Never, M. Megnin adds, could the horn of the 
hoofs alone of ever so many generations of horses, passing 
and repassing, produce any notable furrowing on the/ock, 
and particularly as seen in the imprints at the staircase- 
like Languetine of Alaise. ' To wear the rock in such a 
manner iron horse-shoes were necessary.'' In a country 
so rocky and mountainous as Brittany or Franche-Comte, 
the employment of the horse on anything like a large 
scale was simply impossible without efficient shoeing, and 
this attrition of the living rock goes a long way to prove 
that the Celtic Gauls of this region armed the hoofs of 
their horses with metal. But the exertions of French 
archaeologists have afforded us additional and incontestable 
evidence of this fact in their researches in the Celtic 
graves, particularly those which abound in the vicinity of 
Alesia.^ This large hill, covered with the ruins of the 

' Megnin. Op. cit. p. 17. Bial. Cheniins, Habitations, et Oppi- 
dum de la Gaule au Temps de Caesar. Paris, 1864. 

^ Alesia, now perhaps Alise-Sainte-Reine, in the department Cote- 
d'--Or, was the capital of the Mandubii, a Gallic people, who dwelt in 
what is now Burgundy. Much discussion has lately taken place as to 
which Alesia — for there are several — Caesar refers. Smith (Classical 
Dictionary) gives it as an ancient town of the Mandubii in Gallia Lug- 
dunensis, said to have been founded by Hercules, and situated on a 
high hill (now Auxo'is), which was M'ashed by the two rivers Lutosa 
{Oze) and Osera {Ozerain). It was an important fortress, the siege 
and capture of which was, undoubtedly, the greatest military achieve- 
ment of Caesar. All Gaul had risen against the Romany, even the 
^dui, the-old allies of the oppressors 3 but Caesar conquered them un- 
der Vercingetorix, and besieged them in Alesia. No less than 80,000 
men were shut up in this town or fort ; while Caesar, with 60,000 
troops, lay before it. The Roman General immediately erected a line 
of contravallation, extending for four leagues, in order to reduce the 
place by famine, since its situation on a hill, 1500 feet high, and on all 


Celtic city, amid which have grown the secular pines, 
displays on its surface, on the banks of the Lison, and on 
the neighbouring plateau of Amanqay, so large a collec- 
tion of tombs (more than twenty thousand have been 
counted), that only an awful slaughter, like that which de- 
cided the fate of Gaul, can explain their presence in such 
numbers. All the graves which the Archsological Society 
of Besan^on has carefully explored since 1 85 8, contain the 
skeletons of Gaulish warriors (the Romans burned their 
dead) in variable numbers, who had been buried with 
their horses, and sometimes even with their chariots, of 
which no more remain than the iron-work. 

M. Castan, who has examined many of them, gives the 
following account of the contents of one of these resting- 
places. Above two skeletons (surrounding them were 

sides abrupt, between the rivers Ope and Operain, rendered an attack 
impossible. Vercingetorix, after making several furious but unsuccess- 
ful sallies, called all the Gauls to arms, and in a short time 250,000 
men appeared before the place, Caesar had, in the mean time, com- 
pleted his line of circumvallation, protecting himself against any attack 
from without by a breast-work, a ditch with palisadoes, and several 
rows of pit-falls, to keep off the dauntless cavalry. These defences 
enabled him to repel the desperate attack of 330,000 Gauls against the 
60,000 Romans attacked in front and rear. The Gauls were unable to 
force his lines at any point, and Vercingetorix, reduced to extremity by 
hunger, was compelled to surrender, without having carried into exe- 
cution his design of murdering all the people in the town who were 
unfit for battle. But the whole tribe of the Mandubii, which had been 
expelled from the city by the Gauls, and were not allowed by the 
Romans to pass into the open country, died of famine between the two 

It must not be forgotten that some time afterwards it attained a 
flourishing condition, but was finally destroyed in 864, by the Nor- 





twelve more), one of which was furnished with a short 
iron sword (figure 7) and bronze scab- ^ 

bard, and which were probably the re- 
mains of the chariot driver and the 
warrior, the principal iron-work of an 
' essedum ' was found. This consisted 
of eight cylindrical iron boxes with 
their nails yet adhering, and which had 
served as mountings to the ends of the 
axletrees ; four iron hoops almost entire, 
one of which was found in a perpen- 
dicular position in the ground. From 
the traces of wood yet remaining on 
their entire inner surface, there is reason 
to believe that they were fixed on the 
massive wooden wheel the ancients called 
a tympanum., from its resemblance to a 
drum-head. The imprints of wheels on 
the Celtic roads corresponded exactly 
with the appearance presented by the 
debris of the chariots exhumed from 
these tumuli. Taking the maximum of 
the diameter of the wheels, this was sup- 
posed to be about 37 inches, minim. 31 
inches for the wide wooden ones ; the 
thickness of the felloes w^as from i to i|- inches. These 
remains of the car showed workmanship not coarse and 
heavy, as we might suppose, but fine, light, and very 
advanced. Most important, however, was the discovery, 
beside the relics of a horse, of two pieces of a bronze 

fig- 7 



horse-shoe which had been worn through at the toe 

(fig. 8). M. Megnin, a com- 
petent judge, and from whose, 
description I have freely trans- 
lated, saw these fragments at the 
Besanc^on Archaeological Muse- 

Many other tombs have furn- 
ished, with the debris of arms, 
cuirasses, girdles, and collars of 
boars' teeth, various articles simi- 
lar to the preceding, and among them the characteris- 
tic 'kelt' (fig. 9), together with iron nails with a flat 
head {clef de violon), which had served to attach horse- 
shoes, as in fig. 10, of the same origin, and in which three 
similar nails are yet fixed. 

fig. 8 

fig. 10 

But the most curious discovery made in the tumuli 
of Alesia was that of a complete Celtic forge, which M. 
Castan, who presided at the exhumation, thus describes : 
' The heights of Alesia terminate towards the north in three 



promontories, which are parallel and overhang the Lison. 
One of these promontories, situated in the central axis of 
the heights, is covered with tumuli and ruins. This place 
is called the Chateleys, and is an immense tongue of land, 
which rests on a gigantic perpendicular basement, 164 
yards elevation. On the margin of this region, at a 
place called the Champs-Mottets, are seen three Celtic 
tumuli built of pebbles, and about 0^'^ to 40 feet in 
length. TvN'O of these were opened simultaneouslv, and 
were found completely empty. The third contained a 
certain number of thick and short bones, which the 
osteologists have pronounced to be the remains of a bear 
of the largest species. In the same collection was found 
the half of a cloven foot belonging to a stag or buck. 
These remains of what had no doubt been sacrifices, no 
less than the vicinity of the place designated Ban-du- PrHre 
(priest's ban), were, in our opinion, indications that we 
were touching on sacred soil. Pursuing our exploration, we 
reached the extreme point of the promontory of Chateleys, 
which was occupied by one of those heaps of stones the 
English archasologists term cairns. The traditions of 
buried treasure, which had always haunted this mound, 
had induced a farmer in the neighbourhood to open it. 
Quickly deceived in his expectations (he had only taken 
away, we were told, the foot of a bronze pot), this gold- 
hunter abandoned the spot, leaving the mound pierced 
with a large hole at its summit. This opening, which had 
been made about sixty years before, and about the origin 
of which nearly every one had forgotten, caused the ruin 
of the Chateleys to be looked upon as the base of a tower 



or circular habitation. In its primitive condition, the 
cairn or hillock of Chateleys had the figure of a cone 
with an oval base, and was 98 feet in length, and about 
66 feet in width. The neck of land which served for its 
foundation was naturally in the form of an amphitheatre ; 
and the covering of stones, formed of large pieces, con- 
tained absolutely nothing, and appeared to have been 
constructed solely with a view to protect the bed of 
debris covering the floor of the interior, against the effects 
of time and the cupidity of mankind. All around the 
stone which formed the altar, were spread long tracks of 
cinders mixed with charcoal, fragments of vases, and the 
calcined bones of men and horses. To one side of these 
extinguished fires, lay scattered on the ground the maxil- 
lary bones of pigs and the skeleton of a bear. In the 
middle of the hearth, which occupied the north side, were 
found successively a little triangular file, 2^ inches in 
length (fig. 11) ; the fragment of a thick flat file, nearly 
an inch in width ; a small chisel i^ 
inch long, intended to be fixed in a 
wooden handle (fig. 12); three iron 
cinders or scorice ; two morsels of 
bronze castings about ^ inch thick, 
one of which was ornamented with 
round points, executed with the grav- 
ing tool ; a large iron hammer weigh- 
ing 5 pounds, and still retaining six 
iron wedges which had been used to 
fix the handle (fig. 13). Not far 
from this hammer-head, under the 
heap of cinders that extended to the 

fig. 12 

fig. " 



north-west, lay an iron buckle, composed of two rings 
tied together by a flap, through which passed a tongue 
of metal (fig. 14). Then came a fragment of a horse- 
shoe (fig. 15), furnished with a flat oblong-headed nail 
(fig. 1 6) ; afterwards the blade of an iron knife which 
had lost its point, and was yet 5 inches long (fig. 17). 

fig. 14 

fig. 13 

fig- 15 

fig. 16 

fig. 17 

The numerous bits of pottery collected from among the 
cinders and the charcoal were of grey clay full of silice- 
ous particles, but better tempered and more solid than 
Celtic pottery in general. Some fragments had acquired, 
from prolonged baking, the hardness of stoneware ; 
others, more friable, were covered with a black varnish 
and very salient mouldings. The vases to which these 
belonged appeared to have been broken, and their pieces 
scattered on the ground designedly, for the scraps 
gathered over a wide surface, and which have been put 


together, form the neck of a jar (fig. i8). From all 

this it will be seen that 
the cairn of Chateleys 
was not an ordinary 
tomb. I do not hesitate 
to assert that it was more 
than a tomb. This forge- 
hammer; these imple- 
ments for working in 
iron ; these horses and pigs, emblems of Gaulish nation- 
ality, lying pele-mele on the sacrificial hearth, beside an 
altar built by nature — all this composed a page of antique 
symbolism curious to decipher. The Druidical traditions 
of Ireland tell us that each of the great regions of the 
Gallo-Cimbric race had a centre, a sacred rallying-place, 
to which all parts of the confederate territory resorted.' 
In this centre burned, on an altar of rough stones, a per- 
petual fire, which was designated the parent flame. The 
guarding of this sanctuary, and the maintenance of the 
sacred fire, were entrusted to a school or college of pontiff- 
artists, commanded or directed by a smith. This Druidi- 
cal college combined with the exercise of the pontificate, 
the teaching of mysteries and the industrial arts. ' It forged 
two kinds of swords and lances irreligious arms — the glaive 
of honour and death-dealing weapons — the sword and lance 
for fight.' In this way is the mystery which shrouded the 
promontory of Alesia cleared up. Instead of being a hill 
devoted to graves, we have discovered the sanctuary of 
Alesia, the oppidum which Diodorus termed the primitive 
metropolis of the Celts. Nothing is wanting to complete 

' Henri Martin. Hi.^loire de France, vol. i. p. 71. 


the picture ; neither the altar, which the hand of man has 
not fashioned, nor the insignia of the pontifF-blacksmith, 
nor the buckle of his magical leather apron, nor yet the 
sacrificing knife, or the bones of boars, horses, and bears 
mingled with the remains of human victims consumed by 
the flames. More able men than ourselves had fanned 
these embers eighteen centuries ago, and from them had 
attempted to wring out lamentable secrets. They carry us 
back to distant ages, and show us the chiefs of Gaul de- 
liberating around this place of worship, and the Druids, the 
ovates, and the bards seeking to gain, by sacrifices and sup- 
plications, the countenance of the tutelary genii of their 
nation ; then, when all hope has disappeared, when the 
fates have pronounced the fatal decree, the worshipping 
priests have broken the sacred instruments, and have 
covered over their holy place to conceal it from the pro- 
fanation of their vanquishers.'' 

The publication of this discovery gave rise to much 
discussion. Col. Coinard denied the accuracy of the con- 
clusions arrived at by the Besanc^on archaeologists, and 
clung to the written history of the Greeks and Romans. 
M. Quicherat, however, replied to his attacks in a very 
direct manner. ' M. de Coinard exults because we ad- 
mit that the Gaulish horses were shod ; he overwhelms us 
with citations to prove that shoeing was not practised, 
neither in the Roman cavalry nor yet in that of Mithri- 
dates, when we speak of the cavalry of Gaul. Horse- 
shoes are discovered with Gaulish pottery ; in two of the 
tumuli of Alesia they are embedded in the floor of the 
graves, in the midst of cinders, under a thick pavement. 

' Casta/}. Les Tombelles Celtiques. Besan9on, 1858. Meguin. 


M. Castan has mentioned this discovery in his reports on 
the tombs of Alesia. / was present, and I can certify 
that there ivas a luell-alloyed bed {gisement). The author- 
ity of the compiler Beckmann, quoted by M. de Coinard, 
cannot prevail against a fact of which Beckmann was 
ignorant, and of which M. de Coinard cannot speak.' ' 

M. Troyon, the celebrated Swiss archasologist, in 
noticing these discoveries, and the dispute as to which of 
the Alesias Caesar had to contend with, remarks of this 
one : ' This is not the place to enter into the discussion 
raised as to whether this Alesia is the place of which Cagsar 
speaks. Whatever may be the opinion of savans on the 
subject, it cannot be doubted that the majority of the ob- 
jects discovered in these later years characterize the first 
age of iron. It is evident that this locality has been the 
seat of a Gaulish establishment of great importance. 
The numerous tumuli of Alesia no doubt cover the re- 
mains of diverse generations interred in the age of bronze, 
and during the Roman period. However this may be, 
the intermediate epoch is largely represented ; the major- 
ity of the specimens collected belong to the space between 
these two periods, and give rise to important relations with 
the Helvetic antiquities.' ^ 

Lest it be supposed that this haunt of Druidism was 
only destroyed in a.d. 864, it may be useful to recollect, 
that the Druids were banished from Gaul by Tiberius and 
Claudius in the first half of the first century of our era. 

This holy blacksmith, the pontiff of the Druids, will 
be alluded to hereafter, when we come to speak of the 

' Moniteur de I'Armee, April 16, 1864. 
' Habitations Lacustres, p. 334. 



discoveries of horse-shoes in Britain ; in the mean time we 
must not forget to mention, that these researches and 
speculations on the treasures found in the tumuli sur- 
rounding the ruins of the ancient city of Alesia, are sup- 
plemented by similar discoveries in the neighbourhood, of 
articles which may be referred to the same period. 

During the war in Gaul, Cccsar had often to encoun- 
ter the brave and numerous cavalry of Vercingetorix, the 
Gaulish general. Before the blockade of Alesia, a severe 
cavalry engagement took place on the Vingeanne, near 
Longeau, which resulted in the defeat of the Gaulish 
horse. The Emperor Napoleon thus alludes to the his- 
torical proofs of this event : — ' The field of battle of the 
Vingeanne, which M. H. Defay, of Langres, first pointed 
out, answers perfectly to all the requirements of the Latin 
narrative, and moreover, material proofs exist which are 
undeniable evidences of the struggle. We allude to the 
tumuli which are found, some at Prauthoy, others on the 
banks of the Vingeanne, at Dardenay, and Cusey, and 
those which, at Pressant, Rivieres-les-Fosses, Chamber- 
ceau, and Vesores, mark, as it were, the line of retreat of 
the Gaulish army, to a distance of twelve kilometres. 
Two of these tumuli are situated near each other, between 
Prauthoy and Montsaugeon. There is one near Dar- 
denay, three to the west of Cusey, one at Rivieres-les- 
Fosses, another at Chamberceau. We will not mention 
those which have been destroyed by agriculture, but 
which are still remembered by the inhabitants. Re- 
searches lately made in these tumuli have brought to 
light skeletons, many of which had bronze bracelets round 
the arms and legs, calcined bones of men and horses. 


thirty-six bracelets, severa iron circles which were w^orn 
round the neck, iron rings, fibulae, fragments of metal 
plates, pieces of Celtic pottery, an iron sword, &c. It is 
a fact worthy of remark, that the objects found in the 
tumuli at Rivieres-les-Fosses and Chamberceau bear so 
close a resemblance to those of the tumuli on the banks of 
the Vingeanne, that we might think they had come from 
the hand of the same workman. Hence there can be no 
doubt that all these tumuli refer to one and the same in- 
cident of war. 

'We must add that the agricultural labourers of 
Montsaugeon, Isomes, and Cusey have found during 
many years, when they make trenches for drainage, horse- 
shoes buried a foot or two deep under the soil. In i860, 
at the dredging of the Vingeanne, hundreds of horse-shoes, 
the inhabitants say, of excellent metal, were extracted from 
the gravel of the river, at a depth of two or three feet. 
They are generally small, and bear a groove all round, 
in which the heads of the nails were lodged. A great 
number of these horse-shoes have preserved their nails, 
which are flat, have a head in the form of a T, and still 
have their rivet — that is, the point which is folded back 
over the hoof (the clench) — which proves that they are 
not shoes that have been lost, but shoes of dead horses, 
the hoofs of which have rotted away in the soil or in the 
gravel. Thirty-two of these horse-shoes have been col- 
lected. One of them is stamped in the middle of the 
curve with a mark, sometimes found on Celtic objects, 
and which has a certain analogy with the stamp on a 
plate of copper found in one of the tumuli of Montsau- 
geon. When we consider that the action between the 


Roman and Gaulish armies was merely a cavalry battle, 
in which were engaged from 20,000 to 25,000 horses, 
the facts just stated cannot but appear interesting, al- 
though they may possibly belong to a battle of a later 
date.' ' 

I have not been able to find any more detailed men- 
tion of these grooved shoes than in this brief notice, and 
it would be important to ascertain if the groove be really 
continuous in any, or all of them. If the fact be as is 
stated, then they probably belonged to the horses of the 
German cavalry which we know Caesar largely employed 
to subdue the Gauls. These German shoes we will speak 
of hereafter. A very careful inspection of the Vingeanne 
shoes would be most interesting in various ways. 

According to M. Mathieu,^ in the neighbourhood of 
Alesia, and in the valley of Brenne, the ground can scarcely 
be dug to the depth of 3 to 6 feet without discovering 
shoes of small dimensions, and the cover so wide that 
only a small triangular space is left for the frog. The 
excavations for the railway between Paris and Lyons, in 
the valleys of Armanqon and Brenne, have exposed 
thousands even in the brief space separating Ancy-le- 
Franc from Alesia ; while some have been found below 
the Roman road leading from Alesia to Agedincum (Sens). 
This road is supposed to belong to the Augustan era. M. 
Mathieu considers them to be of two sizes — a very small 
one, and a larger ; a circumstance which may be accounted 
for by supposing that the German auxiliaries drew their 
supply of horses from different parts of Germany. The 

' Vie de Caesar, vol. ii. p. 362. 
" Recueil de Med. Veterinaire. November, 1868. 


form of the nail-head in the Vingeanne specimens is that 
always found with the Gaulish or Celtic shoe. 

The museum of Besanqon is very rich in specimens of 
Celtic horse-shoes, as well as those of the Gallo-Roman 
and middle-age, according to M. Megnin. This may 
be explained by the importance which always attached to 
Besanqon ; at one time it ranked as the chief town of the 
Celtic Mandubians {Man Dubis=::M.a.n. of Doubs) ; under 
the Romans it was the capital of Sequanian Gaul, Visonti- 
uni ; later, it was the principal city of the kingdom of Bur- 
gundy ; as Bisanz, it was a part of the German empire ; 
then it became the metropolis of the Bisontine arch- 
bishops, potent individuals in the middle ages ; and lastly, 
it was the capital of Spanish Franche-Comte. 

Its sub-soil offers traces of the industry and the arts 
of each of these epochs. More than a hundred pieces of 
antique farriery figure in its museum. Twenty of these 
are from the tumuli of Alesia ; others have been found at 
variable depths in the sub-soil of the town in digging 
sewers, or excavating foundations for houses, and often 
side by side with mutilated marble statues, indicating that 
they belong to the Gallo-Roman period. Other shoes, 
apparently belonging to this epoch, have been met with 
by M. Delacroix in the clayey soil of Beaune and Can- 
dar; and some have been found at Montbeliard and 
Mandeure. At Besanqon, but at a less considerable 
depth, shoes of better workmanship are encountered, but 
they are much heavier and clumsier than the Gallic and 
Gallo-Roman shoes, and may be allotted to the middle 

M. Delacroix reports in 1863: 'Excavations are 


actually in progress in many streets of the town, for the 
formation of new sewers. The depth of the cuttings has 
not been so great as could, in the interests of archasology, 
have been desired; they have generally penetrated only 
to the 4th-century layer : that is, to the same level as the 
cUhris of the first Gallo-Roman villa destroyed by the 
Emperor Constantine, the veritable barbarian of those 
days, whose wish it was to raze systematically all the 
dwellings on the left bank of the Rhine to a distance 
of forty leagues, and to convert Sequania into a desert. 
This 4th-century ground is characterized by a layer of 
debris which rests on the admirable paved road so well 
preserved, and immediately beneath the middle-age strata. 
From the day of commencing this work, the labourers 
have been asked to collect carefully all rusty fragments 
denoting the presence of iron, and to note the level. As 
since the Gallo-Roman times, and even the Celtic period, 
the Grand-Rue of Besanqon and the Rue Battant have 
not ceased to be the lines of thoroughfare, the strata, de- 
posited, it might be said, century after century, have each 
in their turn rendered testimony to the manner in which 
animals have been shod during, perhaps, eighteen cen- 
turies. Indeed, in the Rue Battant, the roadway has been 
cut down to the living rock, which is here found grooved 
by ruts, and lies at least two metres' beneath the great 
layer of Roman tiles, cinders, and antique remains by 
which we at Besanc^on recognize the ruins of the 4th cen- 
tury. But everywhere is found, with differences in details 
only, the horse-shoe as at present known The fol- 
lowing are the most notable characteristics of these shoes : 

■ The metre is equivalent to nearly 39I inches. 


three holes on each side, each hole having a kind of 
groove, twice as long as it is wide, to receive the similarly 
elongated head of the nail, and to protect it from wear, at 
the same time that it permits it to project considerably ; 
the outline of the shoe is wavy {festonne), and its contour 
marks the situation of every hole ; each branch terminates 
in a calkin {eponge a crampon), the whole of the project- 
ing nail-heads and the calkins forming a level bearing- 
surface. The wavy outline seems to disappear quickly after 
the period of the destruction of ancient Besanqon ; five 
to six specimens, all having the holes counter-sunk in an 
oblong manner, resemble more the even margin of 
modern shoes. One of these pieces, the bed of which 
was not so accurately determined, terminates by two 
rapidly tapering branches, on the under surface of which 
the calkin was represented by a protuberance a little way 
from the points of the heels. Two very small shoes were 
pierced by only four holes each. These may have be- 
longed to asses or mules. The metal is extremely ductile, 
like that of all antique horse-shoes, and very white. Some 
nails remaining in the holes had been curved round in the 

hoof, so as to form more than a circle The 

number of shoes collected has been one hundred ; many 
escaped our possession, and yet it was in an excavation of 
4 feet wide that so large a quantity of these objects was 
found. From this numerous collection, an important fact 
relating to the ancient breed of horses in Sequania was 
immediately recognized. It is, that towards the 4th cen- 
tury, the size of the shoes indicate excessively small feet ; 
not a shoe exceeds a total width of 4! inches. These be- 
longed to the fine breeds of which the various provinces 


of France boasted in all ages. A superior officer of 
cavalry, who is much more occupied with the varieties of 
horses than antiquities, exclaimed, on seeing this lot of 
shoes, that they had all belonged to Arab horses. Their 
width varies from 3^ to 4^ inches ; their length from toe 
to heels 4 to 4f inches.' ' 

The Celtic or Gallic, and the Gallo-Roman shoes, as 
we may then fairly designate them, possess a remarkable 
identity, and their special features it may be here con- 
venient to notice a little more closely than in the report 
furnished by M. Delacroix of the interesting and valuable 
collection made in Besanc^on, where shoeing appears to 
have been largely practised at a remote epoch. Their 
most noteworthy characters are four in number : i . The 
general shape of the shoe with regard to size, weight, and 
width of cover; 2. The shape of the nail-holes; 3. The 
outer border ; 4. The nails. In shape, the Celtic and 
Romano-Celtic shoes are extremely primitive, i. Their 
form is irregular and deficient in outline ; the majority of 
the specimens I have seen give one the idea that the Druid 
smiths and their immediate successors (if they were really 
the workmen) did not possess an anvil with a bick-horn, 
or beak, to fashion them to the proper shape. The width 
of their surface is irregular, but in no instance have I ob- 
served it to be anything like that noted in shoes of the mid- 
dle ages ; and their thickness is inconsiderable. The size 
varies, but is always small, and such as would suit diminu- 
tive round-footed horses, or little horses with long, mule- 
shaped hoofs. None of the shoes have toe or other^clips, 

' Delacroix. Memoires de la Soc. d' Emulation du Doubs, 1863, 
p. 205-220. 


so far as I am aware, to aid in retaining them on the feet. 
The great majority of them have calkins or catches at the 
extremities, 2. Tlie nail-holes are certainly peculiar. They 
are six in number in all, save very exceptional, instances. 
For each hole there is a long and wide oval cavity, evi- 
dently intended to give partial lodgment to the head of the 
nail, and through the middle of this socket the opening is 
made. 3. The disproportionate size of these cavities, and 
perhaps the absence of a suitable anvil, has left these primi- 
tive defences with an irregular bulging or undulating outer 
margin, and not unfrequently the inner one also, like the 
undulated ' saunions ' these people fought with. 4. The 
nails are also curious. The head is very large and flat, so 
that it must have projected much beyond the shoe, even 
when imbedded in the ovoid groove, and generally ap- 
proaches the letter T in shape. Their appearance will be 
more particularly noticed when we speak of individual 
specimens of shoes. 

The shoes of a later date, as will be seen hereafter, are 
larger, wider across their face, and thicker ; they are also 
more regularly formed, and the holes are square, or 
'counter-sunk;' their borders are very rarely, if ever, un- 
dulated ; or they have a continuous groove running along 
their ground surface into which the nail-heads fit. 

The Abbe Cochet' reports that, in 1844, a discovery 
was made which was all the more interesting because it 
appeared to carry with it a determined date. At Yebleron, 
near Yvetot (not far from Rouen), a wooden bucket, 
mounted with an iron handle and hoops, was found, and 
inside it were three bronze chandeliers, one of which, 

' Le Tombeau de Childeric I., p. 161. 


borne by a goat, bore the stamp of antiquity ; also the 
coulter of a plough, a hammer, a horse-shoe, and a spur 
• — these latter were of iron. Founding an opinion on the 
style of the chandeliers, this group of objects was supposed 
to belong to the Gallo-Roman or Gallo-Frankish period. 
The shoe (fig. 19) has six nail-holes, and its border is 

fig. 19 fig. 20 

markedly undulated ; the nail-head is also of the Celtic 
pattern. The length of the shoe, according to the scale, 
is about 4^ inches, and the width 3 inches. The spur is 
undoubtedly very antique (fig. 20). 

M. Castan has seen the half of a horse-shoe, which had 
the sinuous border and the usual number of holes, as well 
as a calkin, extracted from a Gallo-Roman villa at Egli- 
series, in the Jura, on the same level from which a coin 
of Marcus Aurelius (a.d. 161) was gathered. This villa 
appears to have been destroyed in the second century. 
Many articles in bronze and iron accompanied it, and all 
were covered by a thick bed of rubbish, consisting chiefly 
of tiles and Roman pottery. 

In 1842, M. de Widranges met with an iron horse- 
shoe in the ruins of a Gallo-Roman habitation, in Sauvoy 


(Meuse), amongst a heap of tiles with the characteristic 
border of the period, pottery, cinders, and fuel (fig. 21). 

This shoe had eight holes, the 
wavy margin, and one of its 
sides so greatly expanded as to 
cover one-half the sole. This 
was no doubt a pathological 
shoe, intended to cover and 
protect an injured part of the 
foot, and perhaps also to retain 
some healing application. Its 
length is 5^ inches, and width 4 inches. 

In 1848, a shoe identical with the primitive model 
was found beside a coin of Trajan, in the foundation of 
a new hospital at Tonnerre, by M. Dormois, a distin- 
guished archaeologist. And the Calvet museum contains 
a small, wide-covered shoe, with a triangular space between 
its branches. It was found in clearing away the theatre 
of Orange, in 1834, on a Roman pavement. 

The remains of Celtic farriery have also been found 
in Switzerland. In the Canton Vaud, at Chavannes, is a 
mound named the hillock of Chatelard {motte de Chate- 
lard), which M. Troyon, a learned Swiss antiquarian, 
believed to be a place for sacrifices, for on examining it 
he found nearly five hundr-ed bones of animals. Among 
the iron articles discovered in this mound, there were 
spurs, bridle-bits, and horse-shoes. These last, five in 
number, are of small dimensions and very primitive work- 
manship. They have no calkins, and the holes, three on 
each side, have, as with the shoes of Alesia and elsewhere, 
distorted the sides of the metal. The nails are thicker in 



the stalks or bodies than those now in use, and have the 
high, fiat head which for a long 
time would serve the purpose of 
a calkin (fig. 22). 

The museum of Nantes con- 
tains nine shoes with wavy bord- 
ers. Two of these were found 
in the river Erdre, near Nantes, 
in 1827, during the construction 
of the Orleans bridge ; the others 

have been extracted from the bed of the Vilaine, in the 
neighbourhood of Rennes, and from a tumulus near 

The museum of Troyes, near Paris, possesses three 
shoes, two with undulated edges and six nail-holes. The 
third shoe is evidently more modern, and is very peculiar 
and fanciful in shape ; being a modification, or rather 
exaggeration, of our ' bar-shoe.' 
in cutting the canal, and were 
described by M. ThioUet at the 
French Archaeological Congress 
assembled at Troyes in 1853 

In the museum of Cluny, 
near Lyons, there is, says M. 
Megnin,' an undulated, very 
light, and very elegant shoe, 
which was found at Vassimont, 

' Megfiin, Op. cir. p. 26. To this veterinary surgeon's able but 
brief treatise, I am indebted lor mueh of the foregoing description ot 
the contents of several Fj-ench nuiseums. 

These shoes were found 



at the chateau of the Counts of Champagne (fig. 24). It 

is catalogued as being of the 
sixteenth century ; but this 
is evidently an error ; it does 
not belong to that, nor yet 
to very many previous cen- 

In a French antiquarian 
publication,' it is mentioned 
that when destroying a 

fig. 24 

Roman bridge to construct 

the Canal de Bourgogne 
'there was found in the joints of the stones forming the 
body of the chaussee, a hojse-shoe! Unfortunately no 
description is given. 

The Abbe Cochet mentions a small shoe with six 
nail-holes and uneven border, which was obtained from 
the marshes of Dompierre-sur-la-Somme. It resembled 
that found at Chavannes by M. Troyon. The collection 
of M. Houbigant, at Nogent-les-Vierges, contains several 
antique shoes, but the Abbe says nothing of their origin, 
save that one of them, belonging to a mule (?), and with 
six nail-holes, was fished up in the river Oise, in 1842, 
not far from Creil, where the same antiquarian had fixed 
the Roman station of Litanobriga. The other shoes were 
collected, to the number of one hundred and fifty, not far 
from a Roman road at Nogent-les-Vierges. They had a 
fullering or groove around their circumference, and were 
so small that it was supposed they were intended rather 
for mules than horses. 

' Mem. des Antiq. de la Soc. de France, vol. xii. p. 47, 


M. TrauUe, an antiquarian of Abbeville, who died in 
1828, stated that he had seen a large number of mules 
shoes extracted from the battle-field of Saucourt, where 
Louis III. defeated the Normans in 881 or 882/ 

M. J. Long, author of a memoir on the Roman an- 
tiquities of Vocontia, which appeared in the transactions of 
the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, states : — 
' I possess a horse-shoe slightly different from that now in 
use, and in perfect preservation. It was found in the 
neighbourhood of Monte-Chalen(^on, among cinders, 
with lachrymatories and burnt bones. Its preservation 
ought to be attributed to the cinders and animal charcoal. 
The branches of this shoe are very narrow ; the stamping 
of the nail- holes has produced bulgings. These stamp- 
ings are elongated apertures ; those of modern shoes are 
square. The ancient shoe has no ajusture, or concave 
form, which facilitates support. The freshness of the 
stampings and the state of the toe, leads to the presump- 
tion that it has been little worn. It therefore appears 
that, contrary to the opinion of several authors, horse- 
shoeing was known to the ancients.' The remains ac- 
companying this article were pronounced to be Gallo- 

At Premeaux, arrondissement of Nuits, a quantity of 
horse-shoes were exhumed in the vicinity of a road of 
Roman construction by the pickaxe of a labourer. Many 
of them IV ere found buried beneath the strata, of the road. 
' This circumstance is worthy of notice, because it has 
been asserted that the ancients were not in the habit of 
shoeing their horses. Found in such a bed, these shoes 

' Le Tombeau de Childeric. 



can belong to no other than the Roman, if not an earlier, 

In the Liverpool Museum, two shoes belonging to 
the Rolfe collection, and said to have been found by M. 
Boucher de Perthes on the battle-field of Crecy, near 
Abbeville, in 1851, are of the Gaulish or Roman period 
in shape. I can scarcely believe that they belong to the 
age in which the famous battle was fought. All my 
researches lead me to think that this form of shoe was out 
of use even long before the tenth century. It must not be 
forgotten, that the district in which the famous battle was 
fought, has been the scene of conflicts from the earliest 

The sub-curator of this museum remarks in his notes 
to me on these specimens, that they ' are remarkable from 
the nails used to secure them being oblong throughout 
the shank, and with oblong and narrow flat heads, as is 
evidenced by the socketed holes.' The size of the first 
(fig. 25) is 4^ inches long by 4 inches wide ; and the second 
is the same length, but only 3^ inches wide (fig, 26). 

fig. 25 fig. 26 

' CoiLstitutionnel, May 31, i86j. 


If any other evidence was needed to prove that the 
ancient people of Gaul shod their horses, beyond that 
furnished by the discovery of these articles in situations, 
and accompanied by relics, which cannot leave a doubt as 
to the fact, it would be supplied in a most conclusive and 
satisfactory manner by the monument which has been, 
it may be said, re-discovered in the public museum of 
Avignon, by that most indefatigable and typical archaeolo- 
gist, Mr C. Roach Smith. This most interesting piece 
of sculpture was found at Vaison, in the department of 
Vaucluse, on the Ouvese, a tributary of the Rhone ; a place 
retaining almost unchanged the ancient name, Vasio, and 
described by Pomponius Mela and Ptolemy as one of the 
wealthiest cities of Gallia Narbonensis. It was the capital 
of the Vocontii, and the vast quantities of antiquities which 
have at times been recovered from the ancient site, cover- 
ing, as it did, a large extent of ground, bears witness to its 
opulence in ancient times. ' All we know of this monu- 
ment is the meagre assertion that it was found at Vaison. 
The structure, to which the portions about to be described 
originally belonged, appears to have been of large dimen- 
sions, erected probably upon a quadrilateral basement. 
The summit is wanting, and two of the sides ; but the 
two which remain are in fine preservation, and covered 
with sculptures in a good style of art. The inscription is 
lost, so that we have no clue whatever to the name or 
history of the persons to whom such a costly memorial 
was erected, except so far as the two principal subjects, in 
the central compartments, may be accej^ted as referring 
to the public offices he held, the usual object of such 
representations. One of those subjects is a travelling scene 


(plate 2). In a four-wheeled vehicle, drawn by two mule.5, 
are no less than four persons, exclusive of the driver. Two of 
these are seated, face to face, in the inside ; and two, back 
to back, on the roof. The passengers upon the top of 
the vehicle are all provided wdth hoods wliich fall down 
upon the back ; and the driver wears the Gaulish hraccce 
or trowsers. The centre figure of the upper group is 
seated in what resembles, in some degree, the body of the 
common chariot, or /'/«■«, while the personage in the rear 
is seated upon what seems to be a chest, perhaps contain- 
ing luggage. He carries what appears to be a securis, 
or long-handled axe, which is, unluckily, broken ; but I 
think may be nevertheless recognized as an axe. The 
whole gives a striking and interesting picture of the equip- 
ment and arrangement of a travelling party in Gaul, not 
to be found, in all probability, elsewhere ; and it may 
doubtless be depended upon as a very faithful representa- 
tion.' Mr Smith believes the carriage to be the rheda or 
petorritum, of which Cicero,' Ausonius,^ Isidore,^ Q.uin- 
tilian,"* Juvenal, and Martial speak. He then adds : ' The 
custom of shoeing horses among the ancients has been 
much discussed pro and con. If it could remain an un- 
settled question after the repeated discovery of iron horse- 
shoes themselves, among unquestionable Roman remains, 
the indications of the nails are so decidedly marked in the 
feet of the mules in the Vaison monument, as to leave no 
doubt that the artist intended to show that the mules were 
shod ; and we may conclude that the shoeing of horses, 
as w^ell as very many more inventions in the useful arts, 

' Oratio pro Miloue ; Philippica Secuiida j Attico Epist. 
' Epist. vii. ■' Origiuum, 1. XX., c. xii. '' Inslit. i. 5. 



commonly supposed of comparatively modem origin, are 
really of a remote antiquity. Spurs and saddles are in 
this category : of the former we can produce ancient 
examples; the latter are indicated in monuments.'^ 

This discovery by the talented English antiquarian (to 
whom I am indebted for the two illustrations of this relic) 
is a most important one for our subject, as it is the 
only monument of the Romano-Gallic period, and is 
indeed the first of any ancient sculpture, exhibiting horses 
really shod. I use the term ' horses,' as it is evident 
Mr Smith has overlooked the specific differences between 
them and mules. The heads, ears, and general physio- 
gnomy are those of horses, and the tails, which in mules 
have but little more than a tuft of hair at the ends, are here 
truly equine. The limbs and feet are also widely different 
from those of the hybrid, which are light, the hoofs being 
particularly small in proportion to the size of the animal. 
Here we have the hoofs enormously large — amounting 
almost to a deformity, and such as no mule ever could have. 
The horses, altogether, are extremely coarse, lymphatic- 
looking animals — ungainly and clumsy to a marked degree. 
The hoofs undoubtedly exhibit traces of shoeing in this 
copy, which Mr Smith, who drew it, asserts is absolutely 
correct. It must be confessed that the number of nails 
on each side exceeds those in any of the specimens of 
shoes we have seen of that age : there are six on each side 
of the fore-foot, and five in the hind, making twelve and 
ten nails for each hoof. But the artist, in his anxiety to 
demonstrate that these heavy, unwieldy creatures were so 
completed in their equipment, has perhaps not scrupled 

' Colleclaiiea Anticiua, vol. \i. p. 18. 


to add a few nails more than were really present. The 
monument possesses many points of interest besides that 
pertaining to our subject, particularly in the curious horn- 
like appendages to the collars, which are v/orn on mules 
in the south of France at the present day. 

Hav^ing called M. Megnin's attention to this monu- 
ment, he obtained two delineations of the subject from 
Avignon, and in a paper referring to these, which was 
read in Paris in October last, he says that the most super- 
ficial fore-foot in the group is undoubtedly shod, three 
clenches being very visible, and that these stand at un- 
equal heights on the wall of the hoof/ This number ex- 
actly agrees with that observed in the shoes found in the 
ground, and surmised to belong to these early days. Of 
course, in copying details, unless the artist is also well ac- 
quainted with the subject of shoeing, he is apt to show a 
clench or two more or less. 

M. Megnin, than whom there could not be a better 
authority, entertains no doubts whatever as to this chariot 
team being shod. Like myself, he has for some years 
examined all the equestrian statues and bas-reliefs within 
reach, but without discovering anything to prove that the 
Romans or Greeks shod their quadrupeds. The only 
approach to this he could perceive, was in a galvano- 
plastic copy of Trajan's column, in the Louvre, in which, 
at the top of the ensign of a Roman cohort, was an object 
resembling a horse-shoe with seven nail-holes. He con- 

' Recueil de Med. Veterinaire, November, 1868, p. 342. 'On 
voit tres distinclement dans les deux dessins le pied de devant le plus en 
dehors ferre avec trois rivets (res visibles, et, entre parentheses, pas- 
sablement en mubique.' 

PL. Ill 


i k^'iVt 

^■-'^mf/^^ ^-^%,^^^^ .j-~M(^%.^'^^, 

S?l^'tV??S^V^ ^''^^Wr^\X /{^\/(^%yf 



V A I S O N 

Fage ^J3. 


fes3es to some doubts as to its real character, however, 
and says he would rather have seen it on the foot of a 

It appears that this Vaison monument was found in the 
sixteenth century, in building the Chateau de Marodi, and 
was kept in that building as an ornament until recently. 
French archaeologists are of opinion, that it has been 
sculptured towards the second century of our era, at the 
time of the Roman decadence. 

The sacrificial scene (plate 3) on this grand memento 
of Gallic history lends additional evidence as to its an- 
tiquity. ' The chief personage is, I believe, one of the 
inside passengers in the r/ieda, who, as J?a??ie}i, or chief 
sacerdotal magistrate of the province, or district, is jour- 
neying to superintend some important religious ceremony. 
The attendant carrying the securis is as significant of this 
ofiice as the eagle, vexillum, or other standard would 
have been in denoting a military ofiice ; while the whole 
details of this second scene are so carefully rendered, as to 
determine a connection between the two, allusive to one 
of the chief offices which the deceased object of the 
monument held. Provincial inscriptions prove that dis- 
tinguished persons commonly held the highest sacer- 
dotal offices in connection with the first civil appoint- 
ments.' ' 

Shortly after their conquest of Gaul, the Romans 
appear to have commenced the suppression of D'ruidism, 
and the priests shared the fate of the vanquished nation in 
being doomed to slavery, or at best were permitted to 

' C. Roach Smith. Op. cit. ' Ibid. p. 23. 


enjoy the scanty privileges of freemen/ Many of the 
most devoted Druids doubtless fled to remote places, and 
exercised their arts in secret, in order to maintain a precari- 
ous living ; so that the sound of the anvil in caves and forest 
fastnesses, would alone denote the dwelling-place of those 
Druid priests, who had become fugitives to avoid the 
degradation of slavery. 

The Druidical monopoly in the arts was abolished by 
the Romans, who established large manufactories of arms 
in eight different parts of Gaul, and in them the slaves 
fabricated weapons for their conquerors. When these 
bondsmen contrived to obtain their liberty, they then 
worked on their own account, and with the trading class 
formed a bourgeoisie who dwelt in the towns ; but they 
were so heavily taxed and kept under that they never at- 
tained any position.^ Only the nobles who had given in 

' Megnin. ' The freemen were a very numerous class in Gaul, 
who derived their origin from the various nations against which the 
Romans had carried their arms. And the most numerous class at the 
time of the invasion of the barbarians was that of the slaves. . . . All 
the Gauls invested with the title of citizen had to renounce Druidism. 
The edicts of Augustus proscribed it, and the other Celtic notions, to- 
gether with the language, were consigned to the lower classes 

The freedmen were in possession of nearly all the arts and handicratts, 
and they laboured at them unceasingly- but they enjoyed no consider- 
ation or authority, and had to submit to vexatious laws.' — Sis/iiundl. 
Hist, des Fran^ais, vol. i. pp. 6, 58, 104. 

^ ' The tradespeople and artisans were responsible for the industrial 
impost, as the Curials were for the land-tax. An iron hand stifled free 
trade and prevented its competing with slave labour, whicli was devoted 

to the imperial exchequer This oppression gave rise to such 

a degree of despair, that they abandoned their homes to live in the 
forests and deserts with the Bagauds and fiigitivc slaves.' — H. Martin. 
Hist, de France, p. 327. 



their adherence to the Roman rule, and in everytiiing, even 
to their names, had become Roman, became senators, 
gained a higii rank, and in becoming ricli became also 
effeminate, like the Romans themselves. Thus was extin- 
guished the valorous Gallic nation; and, with its decadence, 
disappeared its love for the horse. During the Gallo- 
Roman period the cavalry became so scarce, that at the 
invasion of the barbarous hordes it can scarcely be 

That the barbarians who overthrew the Roman empire 
shod their horses we have no proof whatever ; though it 
has been maintained by eminent authorities that they in- 
troduced this art. The Sarmatians appear not to have 
known the use of iron, for they had armour of horn plates 
sewn on cloth and overlapping each other ; and their horses, 
so extremely hardy, but which were so numerous that 
every horseman had two or three to select from when the 
one he rode was fatigued (as with the Mongol Tartars, who 
do not shoe their horses), were also covered in the same 

The confederacy of German tribes who conquered 
the Lombards, assumed the name of Franks (the Free), 
and finally obtained possession of Gaul, were not an 
equestrian people ; their battles were chiefly, if not alto- 
gether, fought by infantry.- The Franks had no cavalry, 
and up to the time of Charles Mattel, no evidence of it 
is to be found in their armies. The nobles alone were 
mounted on horses, and with the descendants of Clovis the 

' Aiinn. Marci'll. Lib. xvii. cap. 23, p. 506. 

" H. Martin. Hist, de PVauce, vol. i. p. 377. Sisniundi. Hist, de 
FraiKj'ais, vol. i. p. 340. 


Great a most valuable present consisted of a few horses. 
At the reception of Theodebert by his uncle Childebert, 
king of Paris, among all the considerable gifts he received, 
none excited so much admiration as six horses;' and when 
Theodebert entered Italy in 539, with an army of 100,000 
combatants, the only mounted men were a few armed 
with lances who formed his body-guard. All the others 
were footmen.^ 

The renowned Clovis himself, after defeating the 
Visigoths at Vougle, went to the tomb of Saint Martin to 
return thanks for his victory, and presented the monastery 
with the horse he rode at the battle. But so scarce were 
good horses, that in a very short time he repented hav- 
ing bestowed his courser, and offered to buy it again 
for fifty marks of silver. The monks, however, sent an 
answer that Saint Martin was very tenacious of the pre- 
sent made to him ; so that Clovis was obliged to double 
the amount in order to overcome the defunct Saint's 
scruples. This crafty stratagem caused the impious Si- 
cambre to murmur in his beard, ' Saint Martin does his 
friends good service, but he sells it somewhat dear.' 

When the nobles or their families travelled it was 
either on foot, or in carriages {basterne) drawn by oxen ; 
kings even journeyed in this manner, and the possession 
of horses did not denote nobility or wealth. Martin, 
alluding to this period, gives us an example of this 
undignified mode of progression. ' Clodowig hastened 
to send an official ambassador to Gondebald, who, not 
without hesitation, permitted the deputies to espouse 

' Gregnr. Tiirnn. Lib. iii. pp. 24, 198. 
- S'lsiiiondi. Op. cit. vol. i. p. 275. 


Clotilde in the name of Clodowig, by the sou cVor and 
the denier cVargeiit, according to the Salic custom, and 
after a plaid (court) held at Chalons, between the knights 
of Burgundy and the French envoys. These last led 
away Clotilde in a basterne, a covered chariot drawn by 
oxen.' ' The same author describing the entry of the 
young chief Sighismer into Lyons when about to marry 
the daughter of the King of Burgundy, writes : ' His hair 
resembled the gold of his vestm^ents ; his complexion was 
as dazzling as the scarlet of his dress ; his skin equalled 
in whiteness the silk with which his robes were trimmed. 
He came on foot, surrounded by a troop of chiefs of tribes 
and a cortege of companions terrible to look upon, even 
in time of peace. Their feet were covered by velvet 
boots ; their limbs were naked, and their vestments were 
so short and narrow that they scarcely reached the knee. 
They wore gowns of green silk bordered with scarlet, 
and carried glaives suspended from their shoulders by 
rich baldricks, curved lances, throwing hatchets {hac/ie.s 
de jet), and double bucklers of iron and copper beautifully 

When the Prankish kings imposed tribute on the 
Saxons, whom they had vanquished, the impost levied 
was cows. ' In 632, the Saxon deputies took the oath on 
their weapons, according to the custom of their nation, 
to defend the Austrasian frontier until such time as the 
king (Dagobert) should abolish the tribute imposed upon 
them and their ancestors by the Prankish kings since the 
reign of Clotaire I. ; then the army would be disbanded. 

' Hist, de France, vol. i. p. 416. 
" Hist, de France, p. 406, note. 


This annual tribute, which the Saxons considered so 
onerous, was 500 cows.'' 

Pepin the Short was the first who sought to sub- 
stitute the five hundred cows thus levied for three 
hundred horses. In a campaign against that people, he 
thoroughly subdued them. ' The battle was very san- 
guinary, but Pepin gained the victory. He advanced 
to the Weser, and destroyed the fortresses or ^fertes built 
by the Saxons. The West Saxons submitted, and were 
compelled to pay a tribute of 300 horses a year, and to 
permit the preachers to preach among them in the name 
of the Lord.''' This was also considered a very severe 

This indifference of the Merovingians to horses may 
have had ev^erything to do with the absence of horse- 
shoes from their graves and other remains, which have 
been explored in France within the last few years. The 
Abbe Cochet remarks, in reference to this fict : ' It ought 
to be mentioned that, up to the present time, nothing has 
proved more rare in Frankish graves than the shoes of 
horses. With the three or four horses we discovered at 
Envermeu no shoes were found, although all the limbs 
were present. But buckles and bits of a very character- 
istic shape were there. Lindenschmidt, who found the 
skeleton of a horse lying beside a warrior, at Selzen, 
positively asserts that it was without shoes. Of all its har- 
ness there was only found a bit and some small bronze 
rings. This archaeologist adds, that it has been the same 
at Sinsheim, Ascherade, Langweid, and Heidesheim. At 
Nordendorf three skeletons of horses were discovered, but 

' Fn'(legarii/s. Cap. Ixxiv. p. 441. 
' Ibid. Annal. Metz. ap. Scrip. Rernm Francic. V. ^;^6. 


they were also without shoes, and had only their bits/ 
MM. Durrich and Menzel, in their interesting search 
at Oberflacht, found an almost complete equipment of a 

horse, but no shoes." Thus nothing is more 

common than the bridle bit, and nothing so scarce as 
shoes.' 3 It was the extreme rarity of these articles that 
led the Abbe to doubt Chifflet's reported discovery of 
one in the grave of Childeric. 

It would also appear that with the second or Carlo- 
vingian dynasty, shoeing, and indeed the value of cavalry, 
was still held in little esteem. The war with the Moors 
began during the reign of Charles Martel, but every 
engagement only showed the advantages of cavalry on 
the one side, and infantry on the other. This monarch 
would have gained a far more decisive battle at Tours, 
had the solidity of his infantry been supplemented by 
cavalry to crush the defeated and retreating Moors, who 
got away undisturbed ; and though the world was saved 
from Mahommedanism, yet this equestrian people, by 
their courage and rapidity of movement, harassed the 
Franks long afterwards. 

Charlemagne seems to have become aware of the 
necessity for mounted troops, and to have organized a 
large body of cavalry, to which he owed many of his 
victories. His army appears to have been extensively 
horsed from Spain, the successes of his lieutenants in that 
country, in their contentions with the Moors, giving them 
an opportunity for making captures.-* From this source 

' Das Germanische Todtenlager, bei Selzen, pp. 6, 28.. 
" Die Heidengraber am Lupfen, p. 31. 
^ Le Tombeau de Childeric, p. 154. 
* Eg'vihard. Annales, p. 213. 


he was able to present the King of Persia with a number 
of Spanish horses and mules.' 

In his expedition against the Avares of Hungary, he 
had a very strong force of cavalry ; but at Ems the 
horses were attacked with a contagious disorder, which 
destroyed nearly the whole of them. So great a reliance 
did he place upon cavalry, and so severe was this in- 
fliction, that he preferred waiting for three years, until 
this arm could be recruited by horses from Spain and 
elsewhere ; notwithstanding the greatest possible provoca- 
tions offered him by the enemy in the interval.^ 

An ordinance, or capitulary, published at Aix la Cha- 
pelle in 807 {De villis imperialihus), is curiously illus- 
trative of the manners of this time. Among other things 
it is enacted that the ' Judex,' or steward of each villa, 
was to provide stallions (C. 13) ; that care was to be 
taken of the stud mares, and the colts were to be 
separated at the proper season ; the stables were to be 
thoroughly prepared ; there were to be good artificers, 
particularly blacksmiths ; and at Christmas, in giving an 
account of their administrations, with many other items, 
mention was to be made of what profit was derived from 
the labours of the blacksmith, as well as from colts and 
fillies. In peace everything was to be prepared for war : 
* Our cars for war to be litters well made, covered with 
hides so closely sewed, that if necessity occurs for swim- 
ming rivers, they may pass through (after being lightened 
of their contents), without water entering.' His cavalry 
was always kept on a war footing. 

' TheMonkofSahit-Gall. Hist, des Gaules. 

' Poet. Saxon, iii., apud Scrip. Rer. Franc. V. 15^. 


The ' Chroniques de Saint-Denis ' recite some won- 
derful stories of Charlemagne's strength, such as his 
cleaving a warrior in two with a blow of his sword, and 
carrying a heavily-armed man by one hand. Shoeing 
must have been practised in his day, for tradition says of 
him that he bent, and even broke, with his hands alone, 
a shoe that had been made by a smith for his horse. He 
was, however, outdone by the farrier, who, to show his 
strength, broke in like manner the piece of gold paid him 
by the Emperor for his shoeing. 

The revival of Celtic legends and traditions may have 
operated largely in infusing into Charlemagne and his 
successors a love of the horse and equestrian exercises — a 
revival due, perhaps, to the arrival of St Columbanus and 
his followers from Ireland.' The historian Nitard is par- 
ticularly careful in informing us how the two kings, 
Charles and Ludewig, arranged troops of cavalry, con- 
sisting of Saxons, Wascons, Austrasians, and Bretons, and 
manoeuvred them against each other, causing them to 
gallop their horses fiercely, and brandish their arms. 

Shoeing would therefore appear to have been prac- 
tised, though perhaps only occasionally ; indeed, there is 
some ground for believing that the Celts, Gauls, and 
Franks (when the latter began to avail themselves of 
this defence for their horses' feet), only resorted to 
iron plates for the hoofs of their steeds when the horn 
had been considerably worn way. No implements have 
been discovered which one might infer were employed 
to remove the superfluous growth consequent on the 
wearing of shoes, and it is not at all unlikely that the 

' Martin. Hist, de France, vol. ii. p." 1 14. 
1 1 


hoofs were allowed to be worn down to their natural 
size when they had attained an undue length, instead 
of being shortened by instruments as at present. Shoes 
would, of course, be more particularly required during 
wet and frosty weather ; and such is indicated in the 
description given by Pere Daniel,' when speaking of the 
difficulties surrounding Louis I., the Debonnaire (832) : 
' La gelee qui avoit suivi (les pluyes de Fautomne) avoit 
gaste les pieds de la plupart des chevaux, qiion ne 
pouvoit faire ferrer dans un pais devenu tout d'un coup 
ennemi, lorsq'on y pensoit le moins.' From this passage 
we might conclude that horses were but seldom shod, 
though the art of shoeing was known and practised ; and 
that it was only on particular occasions that the hoofs 
were so protected, as in winter, when ice and frozen 
roads damaged them, or during war. In some parts of 
Germany at the present day, agricultural liorses are only 
shod in winter. 

Towards the termination of the Carlovingian reign, 
and the beginning of the Capet dynasty, shoeing became 
more general. Lobineau, in his History of Brittany, 
gives many copies of seals of the tenth, eleventh, and 
twelfth centuries, on which are depicted knights whose 
horses are shod with iron shoes fastened by nails. 

Those who had the care and management of horses 
became men of high rank, and the Comte de i" E table 
soon became the commander of armies.^ The shoer of 

^ Histoire de France, vol. i. p. 556. 

"^ ' But Witikind had reappeared, and the Saxons took to their arms 
again. The Saraves, a Sclavonic people Hving between the Elbe and 
Sorba, had invaded the neighbouring frontiers of Saxony and Thuringia. 


horses not imfrequently bore this honourable distinction, 
and when the era of chivalry developed itself from the 
usages of the feudal system, we find him on a different 
footing, and uniting with his handicraft those functions 
which the Comte de I'Etable had relinquished — such as 
the government of the stables and studs, and assuming 
the title of ' ecuyer,' or officer of the feudal lord to whom 
he was attached. This shows a return to the Celtic 
customs, and testifies that the Roman and barbarian 
usages were rapidly disappearing. 

' In so far as it was a military institution,' writes M. 
Martin,' ' chivalry descended in a direct line from the 
Celtic customs. The fashion of receiving young men 
among the warriors fell into disuse with the Gallo- 
Romans, but was preserved among the purely Celtic 
people. Feudality revived it, and gave it the significant 
title of " chivalry," which indicated that the possession of 
a war-horse — of a destrier,'' was the distinctive sign of a 

Charles quickly despatched three officers to check them : these were 
Adalgiste, Cublculare or Chamberlain, Cellar, Comte de Fetable, and 
Worad, Comte du pala'is; for already the servile functions which be- 
longed even to the person of the monarch, were regarded as honourable 
distinctions and gave a title to commanders of armies.' — Eginhard. 
Annales, p. 205. This Comte de I'etable was the origin of ' Consta- 
ble,' an honourable designation which has been in use for many centuries. 

' Hist, de France, vol. iii. p. ^2^-,. 

"" Destrier was the name given to a war-horse, which was also the 
Latin destrarius, or dextrar'ius, of the middle ages ; derived, we are told, 
from dextra, because the horsemen handled their steeds only with the 
right hand ; or more likely because the war-horse was led by a groom 
or squire until required for battle. The Troubadours often mention it : 

Chacuns d'eux broche sou auferrant Gascon. 

La peust on voir maint auferrant d'Espngne. 

D' Estriers, auferrant et Gascon. 


nobleman. The young noble, before attaining the rank 
of chevalier, or complete warrior, had to serve many years' 
apprenticeship under the designations of page, varlet, 

damoiseau, and eciiyer It was in the name of 

Saint George or Saint Michael that he was armed as a 
chevalier.' The young nobles filled in the castles of their 
lords all kinds of domestic offices, to which the feudal 
system, the conservator of Celtic traditions, did not attach 
any idea of servility.'^ The Gauls and Bretons had 
already afforded an example of this servitude. The 
popular ballads of Brittany, collected by M. la Ville- 
marque, and which are supposed to have been sung by 
the bards of the fifth and sixth centuries, contain allusions 
to it. One ballad says : 'And all the castles he saw were full 
of men-at-arms and horses, and each warrior furbished his 
helmet, sharpened his sword, cleaned his armour, and shod 
his horsed Another song, entitled ' Le Barde Merlin,' 
recounts the success of a young noble in a horse-race, the 
prize for which was to be Leonora, the king's daughter, 
and says : ' He has equipped his red steed, he has shod it 
with polished steel, he has put on its bridle.' ^ 

In connection with this greatly increasing importance 

The bards of the 6th century, however, use the word eddestr for a 
charger, which was of Celtic derivation. 

' Varlet, vaslet, vasselet, under-servant. Damoiseau, from domicellus, 
diminutive of dominus, an inferior lord. Eciiyer, scutifer, or shield- 
bearer. He carried the buckler of his lord, and attended him in combat, 
like the Gaulish ' trimarkisia.' 

Saint Michael was the chief of celestial chivalry, and Saint George 
of the terrestrial. 

" Hist. France, p. io8. 

3 Megnin. La Marechalerie Fran^aise, p. 72. 


of the horse, the office of marechal, or farrier, also assumed 
a higher rank ; but of this notice will be taken hereafter. 

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, the horse-shoe 
formed a part of every horse's armour, and, in fact, con- 
stituted his state of belligerency. This is manifest in a 
curious passage occurring in the oath administered to the 
nobles of Franche Comte by Archbishop Burhard, in the 
treve or Paix de Dieu (a.d. 1027), where it is said: 'I 
shall neither assail the clerk nor the unarmed monk, nor 
those who accompany them without arms ; I will not 
seize upon any ox, cow, goat, ass, nor their burdens ; I 
will also respect birds, cocks and hens, that is, if I do not 
require them, when I will buy them for two deniers ; 
neither will I carry away the " unshod mare " {jument non 
forree), nor the untrained colt.'' 

Megnin thinks the designation ' auferrand,' sometimes 
given to war-horses, probably arose from this state of the 
hoofs. It may be remarked, however, that so far as I 
have been able to trace it, this name has been always 
applied to grey, or, as we term them, ' iron-coloured 
horses.' The ferrant, miferrant, and hlancf errant, were 
only different shades of this hue ; which was probably 
due to the early admixture of African and Barbary blood 
with the indigenous or Gothic race of horses — a breed 
soon renowned throughout Navarre to the Garonne ; and 
in consequence of the preponderance of greys in it, it 
received the above names. 

The ' ferrant ' at a later date is as fre-quently met with 
in history as the 'auferrant;' and in one instance we have 

' Casta/]. Origines de la Commune de Besan9on, p. 42. Frag- 
mentum Concilii Verdunensis, apud C/ilfflcl. 


a curious play upon the word. In the reign of PhiUp 
Augustus, King of France, Count Ferrand of Flanders 
was taken prisoner at the battle of Bovines (1214), and 
carried in chains behind four shod horses into Paris. The 
populace improvised a song for the occasion, the refrain 
of which was founded upon horse-shoes (Jers), horses 
(Jer rants), the Count's title (Ferrand), and his igno- 
minious condition. 

Et quatre ferrants bien ferres, 
Trainent Ferrand bien enferre. 






In Switzerland, as has been noticed, shoes of the form 
peculiar to the Celtic, Roman, and subsequent periods, 
have been found. Those discovered by M. Troyon' in 
the supposed sacrificial mound of Chavannes, have been 
described as differing only in the absence of calkins from 
the majority of those already considered. They were 
five in number, and very primitive in shape. Their 

Trnynu. Colline de Sacriticcs de Chavannes-sur-le-Veyron, p. 5. 


measurement appears to have been — length, 4| inches ; 
width, 4a inches. The strongest branch, which may be 
looked upon as that for the outer border of the hoof, had 
the holes punched coarsely (that is, farther from the ex- 
ternal border) ; and the inner or weaker branch, Jiner, 
or nearer the outer edge. The holes were a little more 
rectangular than is usually seen in these primitive spe- 
cimens. M. Troy on was in doubt as to the epoch to 
which this mound, and the bones, spurs, bits, and other 
articles, belonged ; but elsewhere he appears to refer the 
shoes to the second ' iron age,' or the Helveto-Iloman 
period ' (see fig. 22). In speaking of these articles, 
this able antiquarian remarks : ' A horse-shoe has been 
discovered, with arrow-heads and lances, in a tumulus 
in the neighbourhood of Aussee, which appears to me 
to resemble that of Chavannes. Another has been found 
in a tumulus in the Canton Berne, but its form is ex- 
actly that of those met with in the Roman ruins. We 
see horse-shoes like those of Chavannes, but of more 
advanced workmanship, from the battle-field of Cressy, 
and preserved in the Artillery Museum of Paris.' ^ Baron 
Bonstetten gives a drawing of a fragment of a shoe of 
this description, obtained by workmen who were de- 
molishing a tumulus standing between Sariswyl and 
Murzelen, Canton- Berne. It is merely the toe-piece 
of the shoe, without holes or any other indication of its 
antiquity. In three other tumuli explored by this rirchae- 
ologist, arms and several objects in bronze were recovered, 

' Rapport sur les Collect. d'Antit^. du Musoe Cantonal li Lausanne, 

" Colline de Sacritiees, p. 12. 



which were classed as belonging to the Helveto-Roman 

The Museum of Avenches exhibits many shoes ob- 
tained from the Roman ruins of Avencium, the ancient 
capital of Helvetia. They have all, with one exception, 
six nail-holes ; the largest has eight." In the excavations 
made at Grange, near Cossonay (Canton Vaud), relics of 
the same kind have been picked up. The figure of one 
designed by M. Bieler, gives its size as barely 4 inches 
in length and 3 inches in breadth (fig. 27). It has low 
calkins, and a slight groove 
runs from heel to heel. Al- 
together, it looks a much more 
recent shoe than any of those 
usually ascribed to the Celtic 
or Gallo-Roman age ; though 
M. Bieler is of opinion that it 
belongs to the third century. 
A specimen in the Berne Mu- 
seum, and which was dug out 
of a tumulus at Garchwyl, near 
Berne,, does not differ much in appearance from the last. 
It was found with a very fine specimen of a vase and 
other articles, but their age is uncertain. The tumulus 
was supposed to be very old — anterior, it was surmised, 
to our era, and at any rate not dating any later than the 
third or fourth century.^ In appearance it is more 
modern, and is chiefly remarkable for having the groove 

' Recueil d'Antiq. Suisses. 

' B'n'li-r. Journal de M6d. Vet. de Lyun, vul. xiii. p. 246. 

^ Ibid. 



fig. 28 

passing continuously from toe to heel — in having four 
nail-holes on one side and three on the other, and show- 
ing also a toe-piece with six marks proceeding from it 
(fig. 28).' The Roman camp on Mount Terrible has 
also furnished a number, which are 
in the private museum of M. Q.ui- 
querez. M. Bieler thus sums up 
the general characteristics of the 
shoes he has examined : ' The shoes 
of the Roman epoch have usually 
six holes {etampures), and very 
rarely the largest have eight. These 
rectangular holes are generally dis- 
tributed along a groove analogous to that of the Eng- 
lish shoes, and without interruption at the toe; but the 
holes are much larger than the grooves, and cause 
bulgings on the external border. The ajusture (fitting 
to the shape of the foot's surface) is null, or nearly 
so. Lastly, the heels are rolled over in some shoes, others 
have rude calkins, and some have also a crampon, or toe- 
piece. With regard to the nails, they differ essentially 
from our own, and are more of the Arab form. The 
head is flat, about half a line in thickness ; its shape is 
nearly semicircular, and it is from one-half to three- 
quarters of an inch in diameter ; the shank or body 
{lame) is square and rather strong. When the head has 
been worn to the surface of the shoe, the part buried in 
the cavity of the aperture is in outline like a T.' 

From the excellent memoir on the horse-shoes found 

' Jahn. Antiquariscli Gesellschaft. Zurich, 1850. 


in the Jura Alps, by M. Quiquerez/ who has distinguished 
himself by his researches into the situation and mode of 
working the Celtic forges, we will make a few extracts, 
which are perhapj as satisfactory as they are lucid. 
' For a long time,' he says, ' there have been remarked 
various kinds of horse-shoes in the monuments belonging 
to several ages, without our having been able until the 
present time to make them serve as a guide to recognize 
with precision the period in which they were used. They 
have also been collected from the pastures, forests, and 
cultivated lands, at such depths that it could not be 
admitted they belonged to modern times. Some par- 
ticular forms, and especially the diminutiveness of these 
shoes, indicated a smaller race of horses, or a breed with 
small feet, such as are yet noticed in certain kinds of 
well-bred animals. At any rate, the meagre quantity 
of metal employed seemed to point to a light race, 
or perhaps the scarcity of iron, or even these two causes 
combined. It is very remarkable that these small shoes 
are not limited to one portion of the Swiss Jura, but are 
found from the banks of the Rhine to Geneva, through- 
out the whole extent of the Alps, on both its slopes, as 
well as in its central valleys. We may then be assured 
that these are the shoes of the indigenous horses which 
have pastured over the whole of this country at various 
periods, during a long space of time. They ought, 
therefore, to afford a characteristic index of those Gaulish 
horses so renowned in bygone ages, but which have been 

' Les Anciens Fers tie Chevaux dans le Jura. Mem, de la Soc. 
d' Emulation du Doubs, 1864, p. 129. 


modified by crossing with strange breeds daring the 
Roman and barbarian conquests, A more attentive study 
of these shoes, and of the localities from whence they were 
procured, permits their being divided into at least two 
classes, belonging, if not to different epochs, at least to 
people shoeing their horses diversely in the same country. 
These differences of form correspond also to an augment- 
ation in size, thickness, and weight, and in such a way 
that those we look upon as the most ancient weigh 
scarcely more than from 90 to 120 grammes;' while 
those of the following ages also increase in weight and 
dimensions, so that for the time of the Romans they reach 
from 180 to 245 grammes; then to 2>^S''> ^^^ lastly, in 
our own days, they weigh from 490 to 850 grammes, 
and even more. These modest objects of antiquity thus 
reveal facts no less interesting to archaeology than to 
agriculture. Under the last head they seem to indicate 
a progressive augmentation in the height of the horses, 
and an amelioration in the indigenous species, arising 
trom the progress of agriculture and commerce, as the 
two began to require horses with more strength than 
elegance or lightness. In an archaeological point of view, 
they furnish a material proof. of the persistence of the 
usages of a country in its mode of shoeing horses ; so 
that the invasions and foreign occupations could not 
cause them to be entirely abandoned by our native 
farriers. This last fact also testifies to the existence of 
the same people in these regions, and their surviving the 

' The gramme is equal to 15.4 grains troy, or 16.9 grains avoirdu- 


Roman and barbarian domination. Nevertheless, it is 
not only the permanence of the shape of the horse-shoes 
which has given rise to this opinion, but also the persist- 
ence that the people and the artisans of the country have 
shown in the reproduction of the forms of ordinary articles, 
instruments, or arms; and to such a degree is this the case, 
that the hatchets of stone, for example, and those of bronze 
and iron, are found, after long intervals, to be so similar 
in form and dimensions that the difference of material 
could not be taken into account. This evidently proves 
the influence of habit in the use of utensils of a certain 
form. The hatchet of bronze remains as small as that 
of stone ; and it is the same with the weapon made of 
iron — apparently for the same reason, that the untempered 
instrument of iron was scarcely better than the one made 
of bronze. Drawings of Roman antiquities and those of 
the middle ages represent iron arrow-heads, keys, knives, 
and designs of vases, which are exactly the same. The 
same fact is noticed in certain details in architecture ; for 
instance, the church of Moutiers-Grand-Fal, built in the 
7th century, we find the same details that may yet be 
discerned in the theatre of Mandeura. 

' The shoes we look upon as the oldest, show, to com- 
mence with, that ' the Celts were already acquainted with 
siderurgy ; the examination we have made of the ancient 
forges in the Jura furnishes us with important indications 
in this respect, (More than 160 siderurgical establish- 
ments of various epochs have been already discovered, 
and some of them have furnished antique objects which 
serve to determine the age of the iron. The furnaces 


and crucibles disinterred by us are peculiar in form, and 
appear to testify that the use of the blast to hasten the 
combustion of the fuel was then unknown.)' 

It may here be remarked that Mr T. Wright shows 
that the Romans in Britain smelted their iron very 
imperfectly. ' It is supposed that layers of iron ore, 
broken up, and charcoal mixed with limestone as a 
flux, were piled together, and enclosed in a wall and 
covering of clay, with holes at the bottom for letting 
in the draught, and allowing the melted metal to run out. 
For this purpose they were usually placed on sloping 
ground. Rude bellows were, perhaps, used, worked 
by different contrivances.' Mr Bruce, in his account of 
the ' Roman Wall,' has pointed out a very curious con- 
trivance for producing a blast in the furnaces of the 
extensive Roman iron-works in the neighbourhood of 
Epiacum (Lanchester). A part of the valley, rendered 
barren by the heaps of slightly-covered cinders, had never 
been cultivated till very recent times. ' During the opera- 
tion of bringing this common into cultivation,' Mr Bruce 
says, ' the method adopted by the Romans of producing 
the blast necessary to smelt the metal was made apparent. 
Two tunnels had been formed in the side of a hill ; they 
were wide at one extremity, but tapered off to a narrow 
bore at the other, where they met in a point. The 
mouths of the channels opened towards the west, from 
which quarter a prevalent wind blows in this valley, and 
sometimes with great violence. The blast received by 
them would, when the wind was high, be poured with 
considerable force and effect upon the smelting furnaces 
at the extremity of the tunnels.' This primitive mode of 


smelting is still in use among some peoples unacquainted 
with the improvements of civilized nations. The ancient 
Peruvians, for example, built their furnaces in this manner. 
Mungo Park also noticed a similar practice in Africa, 
and it has also been described as existing in the Hima- 
laya mountains of Central Asia. 

'The shoes of the first period are small, narrow, and scant 
of metal, constantly pierced with six holes, whose external 
opening is strongly stamped in a longitudinal form, to 
lodge the base of the nail-head. The slight thickness, and 
especially the narrowness of the metal, causes it at each 
hole to bulge, and to give a festooned appearance to the 
external border of the shoe. The thickness of the latter 
is from one-eighth to one-seventh of an inch, and the 
width from six to seven-tenths of an inch between each 
hole, thus indicating the dimensions of the bar of metal 
before stamping. The form of the stamped holes in- 
dicates the employment of a steel punch, and consequently 
a knowledge of the manufacture of steel at the period 
when these horse-shoes were made. 

' One of these shoes (fig. 29) has been found, with a 
portion of the bones of a horse, in a peat-moss near 
the old abbey of Bellelay, at a depth of twelve feet, 
resting on the primitive soil. There was, therefore, every 
reason to believe that this horse had not been buried in 
the peat, but that, on the contrary, it had perished in this 
place before the formation of the heap, inasmuch as its 
scattered bones testified to the work of carnivorous ani- 
mals gathered around their prey. Many of these shoes 
have been found at various depths in the turf-beds of the 
Helvetic plain, but w^e have not been able to obtain pre- 



cise information with regard to them. This turf-pit has 
yielded numbers of coins from the first half of the 15th 

31 ,_--^^ S3 

fig. 29 

century to the year 1480. These were only covered by 
2,3^ inches of turf, still spongy, but which had never- 
theless taken at least four centuries to form. Taking 
this particular case into consideration, and reckoning the 
overlying deposit as accumulating at the rate of 6 inches 
in a century, — far too low an estimate by reason of the 


density the turf assumes as it becomes old and forms the 
inferior layers, — the shoe discovered at the bottom ought 
to have lain there at least 2400 years. These same turf- 
beds enclose, or rather cover, a place where there is char- 
coal beneath 19 feet 8 inches of peat, and this being on 
the primitive ground, giv^es a period of more than 4000 
years since it was laid there. In the neighbourhood there 
are iron scoriae indicating an ancient forge, and in this 
country, where iron mines only exist, wood is carbonized 
for no other purpose than to work that metal, and all the 
ancient forges used nothing else. 

' More than twenty of these shoes have been collected 
in the soil of a Celtic establishment between Delemont 
and Soyhiere, on the right bank of the Byrse, territory of 
Courroux, and near Vorbourg (fig. 51). There were no 
traces of Roman articles, nor yet those of a posterior age, 
but only antiquities of the stone, those of the bronze, and, 
lastly, of the iron periods. The last was characterized 
only by horse-shoes, and by two discs resembling the 
iron money of the Spartans. On the other bank of the 
river similar shoes were also found (hgs. 30, 31, 32), and 
two beautiful lance-heads or Gaulish javelins. Near the 
first shoes was a pointed spur. Another shoe of the same 
form has been met with in the track of an antique road, near 
Saint-Braix, not far from one of those ancient forges 
where objects belonging to the stone age have been dis- 
covered, A neighbouring hamlet is called Cesais or 
Caesar, a characteristic name also given to a ridge or 
mound near which passes a Roman road joining the 
plateau of the Franches-Montagnes with the enclosure of 
Doubs, and which shows traces of military works. The 


Jurassian Society of Emulation is about to publish what 
we have written on the new discoveries made in this por- 
tion of our mountains (figs. 0^^., 34). 

' Other shoes, always like the former, are frequently 
met with in pastures, forests, and cultivated lands, but 
constantly a'.: somewhat considerable depths. They often 
also mark the ancient narrow road-ways, which have ruts 
worn into the rock, and where the short axle-tree has scraped 
away the stone at the sides in its passage, at a height 
of from 12 to 13 inches (Celtic roads). We have 
rarely found this description of shoes in the Roman 
camps ; in fact, only on that of Mount Terrible, which was 
formed on an oppidum; we believe, however, that the 
shoes from this place belonged to the same category as 
the Celtic objects of the three ages, and which have been 
found in such large numbers. Nevertheless, it is very 
remarkable that one of these shoes has been gathered 
in the ruins of the castle of Asuel, supposed to have 
been built in the nth century and destroyed in the 
15th (fig. 'Tf'^). But it might well belong to an earlier 
period, as we have found a similar specimen in the 
walls of the chateau of Sogron, where a horse certainly 
never planted foot (fig. 2)5)- This building dated from 
the 8th century, and was burned in 1499 ' ^'^ ^^^ vicinity 
we have found a stone hatchet and two Celtic coins of 

' We might also mention the discovery of one of these 
shoes with undulated borders at a great depth near the 
glass-works of Moutier, on the track of a Celtic road at 
the entrance to the passes of Court, and also farther away 
at the level of the river Byrse (fig. 52). We have seen 


dtbris of shoes on the continuation of this road near the 
mill of the Roches de Courrendelin, and also near Grel- 
lingen, always beside deep ruts, and sometimes beside 
transverse grooves and cuttings in the rock, in the bed 
of these passages, intended to prevent the horses slipping. 
These same shoes are also found at the bottom of the 
tourhieres of the Swiss plain, in the Gaulish monuments 
of Alesia, in the plains of Champagne, on the battle-field 
where Attila is said to have been defeated in 451/ The 
Cossacks, the descendants of the ancient Scythians, or 
Huns, yet shoe their horses in the same fashion. We 
might cite many other discoveries of these same shoes, as 
well in Switzerland as elsewhere, and particularly in the 
districts of the Jura. We think that these are assuredly 
the shoes of the indigenous horses which wandered or 
pastured on the mountains of our country, long before 
the arrival of the Romans; and they have remained in 
use with the Jurassic people during the Roman domin- 
ation, and still later, concurrently with those we are about 
to describe. It may have happened that the shoeing of 
the Gallic horses was derived from the relations of the 
Gauls with Asia, where nail-shoeing is said to have been 
of high antiquity ; and if w^e, as well as our neighbours, 
regard these small shoes as of Hunnic, Saracenic, or even 
of Swedish origin, it is simply because people confound 
the epochs of the invasions which have desolated the 
country. Even now, these articles are attributed to the 
Cossacks in 18 14. 

' In the numerous Roman camps whose remains occupy 

' Camu-Chardon. Notice sur la Delaite d'Attila, Mom. de la Soc. 
Acad, de I'Aube, 1854. 


the summits of the mountains or hills of the Jura, along 
Upper Alsace, as in the chain of Lomont, in the castles of 
the same period, perched on culminating points, in the 
ruins of Roman villas buried beneath nearly every 
village, on the track of roads of the like date, and also 
scattered over the country, we have gathered horse-shoes 
of a different form to those already noticed, but whose 
dimensions yet resemble them, though they are always 
more circular. They are also stronger in metal, and 
consequently more heavy, varying from i8o to 245 
grammes. They are with or without calkins {cram.po?is), 
and pierced by six holes — three on each side, placed farther 
from the external border than in the preceding. The 
heads of the nails are still oblong, but not so high or 
salient, and indeed are nearly hidden in the holes counter- 
sunk for this purpose. There are other shoes which, in 
form, in weight, and in dimensions are allied to these, and 
are found in the same places ; but they offer a character- 
istic difference. This consists in a groove {rainure, Angl. 
fullering) extending around the outer border of the shoe 
from the heels to the toe, and sometimes deep enough to 
completely lodge the heads of the six nails with which 
they are furnished. At other times, this groove is scarcely 
noticeable, and would appear only to have been used to 
indicate the line on which the farrier sought to make the 
holes. Shoes with a deep groove are yet in use in Eng- 
land ; but with us they seem to have been older than, or 
contemporaneous with, the cutlasses with wide blades, 
sharpened only on one side, and provided with one or two 
of these longitudinal grooves. Knives of the same period 
are similarly ornamented, and these certainly belong to 


the end of the 4th or the commencement of the 5th 
century. The weight of these fullered shoes amounts to 
about 265 grammes each (about 9^^ ounces). 

' These two varieties of shoes are not only met with in 
Roman establishments, civil and military, but also in the 
Burgundian tombs of the 5th century, and in ruins of the 
7th and 8th centuries; as also in the dwellings of the mid- 
dle ages, and in all the districts over which horses of this 
epoch have passed. According to all appearances, during 
the Roman period the people of the country had pre- 
served the mode of shoeing practised by their ancestors 
of Celtic origin, and the breed of horses had scarcely in- 
creased in size; while the Romans, or rather the foreign 
troops attached to the legions, had imported stronger 
horses, and employed shoes different from those of our 
nation. Such is at least the opinion that we derive from 
the facts and the circumstances accompanying the dis- 
covery of these articles. We possess some shoes found 
with a heap of horses' bones, the hoofs of which yet re- 
mained shod, and which were lighted upon when repair- 
ing the road from Courtemantruy to Saint-Ursanne, not 
far from the Roman camps of Moron and Mount Ter- 
rible (figs. 36, 37). Another shoe, almost identical with 
them, has been gathered in the last-named camp, on the 
same level with Roman relics (fig. 38). A fragment was 
also found in the same place (fig. 39). The ruins of 
the Roman villas of Debilliers and Fourfaivre contained 
a considerable number of the type represented in figures 
40 and 41. It would be superfluous to ofl^er any more 
descriptions or drawings, because in nearly all the Roman 
sites in the country, shoes of the same, or of slightly dif- 



ferent form have been collected. It is at all times neces- 
sary to remember, however, that the majority of the Roman 

villas destroyed during the first invasion of the barbarians 
have been subsequently more or less repaired to serve as 
habitations, either by the Gallo-Romans, or by the Burgun- 
dians, when these last established themselves in the country. 
We have already given numerous proofs of these restor- 
ations of the 4th and 5th centuries by the Burgundians, 
and recovered many of the relics of these warriors of six 


feet in height, still armed with their grooved " scramasacs," 
the pointed spur at the heels, and wearing great girdle- 
plates of iron damascened with silver. One of these 
" six-feet" people of the 5th century v/as laid in a tomb 
formed of large masses of tuff roughly chiselled, and near 
him were found the bones of a horse, which had pro- 
bably been that of the giant, the shoes of which yet exist- 
ed; they had six oblong holes and were " fullered " {a 
rainures) (fig. 42). Not far from this many other graves, 
of the same or an earlier epoch, have furnished horse- 
shoes ; the one we give a drawing of is the smallest, the 
others are wider in metal, so as to cover the greater part 
of the sole. This is not an exceptional form, for we 
have a number of the same kind. In addition, these 
shoes differ but little from those of the Roman period, 
and show a continuation of the same manner of shoe- 
ing, with the slight modifications the farriers adopted 
according to circumstances. There are always shoes with 
six nails, sometimes fullered, but not undulated as in the 
first period. In the foundation of the church of Mou- 
tiers-Grand-Val, built in the 7th century, a similar shoe 
has been found (fig. 40). To the shoes of certain 
origin, we add another form which has also been admitted 
at divers epochs, though more rarely, and appears to in- 
dicate a mode of shoeing strange to the country. We 
give as a type of these shoes (fig. 44) a specimen found 
on the track of the ancient road from Aventicum to 
Augusta Rauracorum by Pierre Pertius, and in the valleys 
of the Byrse, between Laufon and Bale. They are par- 
ticularly distinguished by the massive form of the calkins, 
which appear like a great protuberance a little in front of 
the extremities, which become sharp. The one rcpre- 



sented is the thickest we have found ; it was associated 
with more than twenty others mixed up with some Ro- 

man remains and coins of the 4th century. This variety 
is found in the middle ages, in the ruins of various castles, 
as that of Sogron (fig, 45) ; a circumstance which leads 
us to think that they commence in the barbarian epoch, 
and continue during the middle ages, not regularly or as 
a generally adopted style, but rather as a foreign import- 
ation whose origin is unknown. 

' Shoes really of the middle ages, and anterior to the 


15th century, are characterized in those (figs. 45,46,47), 
from the Chateau of Sogron (8th to 15 th century) ; and 
also those of Asuel and Vorbourg (figs. 48, 49), One of 
them is peculiar in having a very primitive toe-clip {pin- 
c^on), formed by the toe of the shoe being a little elongated 
and bent upwards (fig. 49); and another has the calkins 
inverted, or turning towards the heel of the foot (fig. 46). 
The specimen from Vorbourg (fig. 49) closely resembles 
that from Souboz (fig. 50); and yet the latter was 
found at such a great depth in a quarry, that the work- 
men believed the rock must have grown since it was 
deposited. But there can be little doubt that it was lost 
in the pasture on this part of the mountain traversed by 
a Roman road, and at a very remote date had slipped 
through a crevice in the rock. 

' It has already been remarked that in the ruins of 
various castles, as elsewhere, shoes have been gathered 
like those of early times, but we have emitted doubts as 
to their employment at a later period. The shoe from 
the Chateau of Asuel weighs 425 grammes, and it has 
six nail-holes like those of the 12th century, mentioned 
in the Roman da Renard (edit. Willems, p. 241), when 
the cunning fox engaged the wolf Isangrin to read, under 
the feet of a mare, on what conditions she would surrender 
the flesh of her foal ! This description of shoe, stronger 
in metal and of similar dimensions, appears to characterize 
the horses of the middle ages, which had to carry heavy 
caparisons of iron and riders covered with weighty armour. 
They sometimes offer an important indication, consisting 
in the mark of the farrier who forged them. This is very 
distinctly seen on the shoe from Asuel, and on those of 
Vorbourg and Sogron. That from Asuel reminds us of 


the time when the last owner of that place fought for 
Charles le Temeraire against the Swiss and their allies. 
The size of the shoes of these various epochs is not the 
only thing to consider in the determination of the species, 
for the dimensions must necessarily have varied a little. 
Nevertheless, it is very remarkable that those of the first 
period scarcely vary, and they might be confounded with 
the shoes of mules and asses found sometimes with the 
more noble steed. Certain small light shoes, bearing the 
characteristics just described for each epoch, may have 
belonged to some palfrey or hackney ridden by a young 
Gaul or Gallo-Roman, as well as to the steed of the fiery 
Chatelaine of the middle ages. 

' This notice of the horse-shoes which have been worn 
in the Jura in ancient times is far from being complete ; 
and it has no other merit than furnishing specimens of 
ascertained origin, and offering as closely as possible 
types rather than exceptions, for we have been careful to 
choose those for our drawings which represent the most 
characteristic and usual forms.' 

In Belgium, shoes of this ancient type have also been 
discovered. In making a road at Jodoigne, in a cutting 
at a certain depth from the surface, some Roman pottery 
and four of these plates were discovered in a bronze vase. 
They were described by M. Schayes, who remarks : ' The 
horse-shoes were, like the pottery, in perfect preservation. 
I believe them to be of Roman origin. They are less 
regular in form than our modern shoes, and are no 
more than from 4 to ^\ inches long, and 0^^ and 4 
inches wide. The vessel containing these was supposed to 
be no older than the 15th century, and it was surmised 



that the articles had been put into it from some tomb 
and again buried. The previous year bones had been 
found in the place in which this collection was dis- 
covered,'' No drawings accompany the description. 

In the Royal Museum of Antiquities at Brussels is a 
shoe, found in 1863, during excavations carried on at 
Wundrez-lez-Binche, Hainault. With it were several 
antiquities, and notably a bronze coin of Faustina (a.d. 
175). Four inches in length and width, this specimen of 
farriery (fig. ^^) has only four nail-holes, and though 
broad in the cover, is yet 
thin and light, and un- 
provided with calks."; The 
outer border is even, the 
holes quadrilateral and 
well placed. 

A very interesting dis- 
covery was made in 1 848, 
during mining operations 
at Lede, a village near Alost, Eastern Flanders. Three 
shoes were found along with relics which authorities 
have stated to be Frankish, 
and to belong to about the 
6th century. One of these 
relics is an earthenware vase 
(fig. 54), which certainly bears 
a striking likeness to one type 
of that ware pertaining to that 
age and country. The first 
horse-shoe we might designate a Romano-Frankish speci- 

' Bulletin de T Academic des Sciences de Belgique, vol. xiii. p. 193. 

fig- 53 

fig- 54 


fig- 55 

men, from its resemblance to those we have named Gaulish 
and Gallo-Roman (fig. $i,). It has the usual irregular 

outer border, the six 
peculiar nail - sockets, 
only one calkin, and 
is light in form. It 
measures four inches 
in length and width. 

The second exam- 
ple has a more modern 
appearance ; has curi- 
ously shaped calkins on both heels, an even border, 
and six quadrilateral nail-holes. It is a little larger 
than the first specimen, and it will be seen from a 
side view that it bends up towards the heels of the foot 
(fig. ^6). The third shoe is of the same width, but an 

inch longer than the 
last, and is particularly 
striking from its being 
coarsely grooved, hav- 
ing calkins which are 
strong exaggerations of 
those already described, 
and being greatly curv- 
ed towards the heel and 
toe, so that the mid- 
fig. 56 die of the shoe is on the 
same level with the ground face of the calk (fig. 57). In 
this respect it bears a marked resemblance to the ojusted 
shoe introduced by Bourgelat in the last century. It is 
somewhat remarkable to find these three types of shoes 



in the same place, 
along withFrankish re- 
mains, though neither 
of them differ from 
those described by M. 
Quiquerez. All these 
specimens are now in 
the Royal Museum of 
Antiquities, Arms, and 
Artillery, at Brussels, 
to the obliging curator 
of which I am indebted for information relative to them. 

In Germany, we find the same traces of antique shoes 
as are discovered in France, Switzerland, and Belgium. 
The Germans, like the Celts, represent one of the most 
remarkable races of early times ; and though their history 
does not extend so far back as that of the CeltcC, yet the 
ancient writers made very little distinction between them, 
and when they first encountered them found they were 
also in possession of iron. The Cimbri or Germans, 
then, wore mail armour, had polished white shields, two- 
edged javelins, and large iron swords. They were also 
to some extent a horse-loving people ; and when they 
fought with Marius they numbered 15,000 cavalry mag- 
nificently mounted. Each had a fine lofty helmet, and 
bore upon it the head of some savage beast, with its 
mouth gaping wide ; an iron cuirass covered his body, 
and he carried a long lance or halberd in his hand. The 
Teucteri, a tribe on the banks of the Rhine, were famous 
for the discipline of their cavalry. Their ancestors, in the 


early ages of tradition, established this force, and it was 
maintained by posterity. Horsemanship was the sport 
of their children, the emulation of their youth, and the 
exercise in which they persevered to old age. Horses 
were bequeathed along with the domestics, the household 
gods, and the rights of inheritance, and unlike other 
things, they did not go to the eldest, but to the bravest 
and most warlike child.' 

Their horses were neither remarkable for beauty or 
swiftness, nor were they taught the various evolutions 
practised by the Romans. The cavalry either bore 
straight before them, or wheeled once to the right in so 
compact a body that none were left behind. ' Who are 
braver than the Germans ?' asks Seneca,^ 'who more 
impetuous in the charge ? who fonder of arms, in the use 
of which they are born and nourished, which are their 
only care ? who more inured to hardships, insomuch that 
for the most part they provide no covering for their 
bodies — no retreat against the perpetual severity of the 
climate ? ' Caesar tells us that they passed their whole 
lives in hunting and military exercises.^ The chief's com- 
panions or select followers required from him ' the warlike 
steed and the bloody and conquering spear.' Their pre- 
sents from neighbouring nations were most valued when 
they consisted of fine horses, heavy armour, rich housings, 
and gold chains. 

The Suevi had, according to C^sar, poor and ill-shaped 
horses. Yet they must have proved very efficient, for 
the Suevi, ' in cavalry actions, frequently leap from their 

' Tacitus, cap. 32. " On Anger, i. 11. 

Bell. Gall. vi. 21. 


horses and iight on foot, and train their horses to stand 
still in the very spot on which they leave them, to which 
they retreat with great activity when there is occasion ; 
nor, according to their practice, is anything regarded as 
more unseemly or more unmanly than to use housings. 
Accordingly, they have the courage, though they be 
themselves but few, to advance against any number what- 
ever of horse mounted with housings.' ' 

In the last century, shoes were dug out of graves, which 
were to all appearance pre-Roman. One of these shoes has 
been described as having the catches or calkins projecting in 
a peculiar manner upwards instead of downwards, as if to 
grasp the hoof; but it is not stated whether there were 
also nail-holes/ 

Many years ago, veterinary surgeon Plank ^ mentioned 
finding shoes in Bavaria, which, from their antique form 
and the situation they occupied when discovered, he 
believed to have been worn by Roman cavalry horses. 
Schaum also speaks of ancient shoes as being found in 
his district.'* At Willerode ( Mansfelder Gebirgskreise), 
Rosenkranz ^ speaks of a variety of old iron work being 
found in grubbing up a forest called Wolfshagen. This 
consisted of rusty spikes, wmsital/?/ large horse-shoes 
(ungewohnlich grosse Hufeisen), a battle-axe, and a kind 
of sharp knife, made of flint, which he thought might be 
a sacrificial knife. 

' Bell. Gal. iv. 2. 

* Bechmann. Beschreibung der Mark Brandenburgh. Berlin, 1751. 
Arnkiel. Heidnische Alterthiimer. 

3 Veteriniirtopographie von Baiern, p. 18. 

* Alteritli. S. von Brauenfels, S. 39. 

5 Neue Zeitschrift. Halle, 1832. Band i. Heft 2. 


Klemm' remarks : ' The horse must have been equally 
valuable to the war-loving German as the intelligent and 
trusty hound was to the huntsman. The German horse- 
men were respected by the Romans. They displayed 
great affection for their steeds and had them under 
excellent control, although Tacitus does not praise the 
horses for either their beauty or speed. The Germans 
had saddles and horse-shoes ; the latter are often found in 
the soil of the fatherland. They indicate a small race of 
horses then in existence. The horse-bones dug up by 
Dr Wagner were also small.' 

Arnkiel/ speaking of the supposed horse-shoe found 
in Childeric's grave, notices that the most ancient shoes 
discovered ' are small and thin, very much oxydized, and 
have neither toe-pieces {gri/f) nor toe-clips, but small 
calkins at the heel, and the nail-holes are near the centre 
of the shoe.' 

Ludwig Lindenschmidt,3 who has so ably, and almost 
exhaustively, explored the ancient grave-mounds of Sig- 
maringen and its vicinity, is puzzled at the presence of 
single horse-shoes in graves, without the bones of horses, 
spurs, or equipment. ' They form one of the unsolved 
mysteries of the graves, and are in no way accounted for 

' Handbuch der Germanischen Alterthumskunde, p. 133. Dres- 
den, 1836. 

^ Cimb. Heidenrel. p. 164. 

I much regret that I have been unable to refer to a paper by S. D. 
Schmidt on what were called Swedish horse-shoes : ' Ueber Sogenannte 
Schwedenhufeisen, mit Nachtr. v. Prof. Renner/ in Jena Variscia, 
ill. 61. 

3 Die Vaterliindischeu Alterthumer der Fiirstlich Hohenzoller'schen 
Sammlungen zu Sigmaringen. Mainz, i860. 



by the supposition that they may be intended as a sign 
of the former occupation of the deceased — as, for ex- 
ample, that of a smith. The Royal Museum contains 
several such single horse-shoes, discovered in graves, all 
of different kinds, and from different places. These objects 
buried in the tomb seem rather to bear some relation to 
symbols of old heathen superstitions — such as the practice 
of nailing a horse-shoe on the threshold of the door, which 
yet lingers in some places. Certainly the subject requires 
further inv^estigation and explanation.' The very old grave- 
mounds of Gauseliingen yielded many primitive curiosities, 
such as celts, arm and finger-rings, glass beads, &c., of 
the Celtic or early German people. 'The third grave- 
mound contained two horse-shoes (figs. 58, 59), an iron 

fig- 58 fig- 59 

arrow-head, a fine iron dagger, the handle of which was 
much damaged. Beside these lay the remains of a 
leathern girdle, ornamented with metal knobs.' 

In the Grand-Duchy of Luxemberg, there are re- 
mains of what is known to archaeologists as the Roman 
camp of Dalheim, which for many centuries have con- 
sisted in nothing more than substructures, though 

everything connected with them demonstrates that they 




constitute the debris of one of the most considerable 
establishments the Romans founded in this region. Many 
ancient thoroughfares, still known to the peasantry as 
pagan roads, abut on these ruins. The archaeologists, from 
various proofs, but chiefly those derived from the pre- 
sence of coins, attribute the final destruction of this 
important villa to the barbarian hordes under Attila, 
about A.D. 450. It has proved particularly rich in an- 
tiquities, which have been referred to the interval be- 
tween Augustus and the fall of the Roman empire, and 
for many years excavations on its site have been carried 
out with great care. 

In 1 85 1, this camp commenced to be intersected by 
a new public road, and the excavations instituted by the 
Board of Public Works were placed under the direction 
and surveillance of the Archaeological Society of the 
Grand-Duchy. Among other objects, evidently Roman, 
recovered from these remains, were four horse-shoes of a 
comparatively modern form — that is, more of the Bur- 
gundian than the Gaulish or Celtic shape. They were 
not all of the same dimensions. Figures 60 and 61, de- 
lineated by M. Fischer, a veterin- 
ary surgeon of Cessingen,' represent 
the smallest and largest of the four. 
The former is about the usual size 
of the early period to which they 
are supposed to belong, but the 
latter is large. All had been worn, 
and bent nails yet remained in the 
holes. They were very much cor- 
' Annales de Med. Veterinaire, p. 28. Bruxelles, 1853. 



fig. 61 

roded, and the two smallest were broken. The 'Bur- 
gundian' groove was present in the four specimens, and 
was continued from one extremity to the other. This 
mode oi fuUering is not now practised in this part of 
Europe. The least of these articles appears to have 
had six holes and no calkins ; but M. Fischer represents 
the largest as furnished with nine 
apertures, and two square, well- 
formed calkins. M. Namur, the 
archaeologist who described the 
antiquities found in the camp, 
asserts that they each had eight 
holes. ^ In 1852-3, the excava- 
tions being continued, a small 
shoe of the same shape was 
found, but it had orAj four nail- 
holes ;^ and in 1 854-5, the same antiquarian rescued several 
more, but they did not, it appears, differ from the others. 
M. Namur gives no drawings or descriptions of them, but 
merely states that they were of the ordinary form, and 
were found associated with Roman reliquce of various 
kinds and dates. 

It may be noted that these specimens of antique shoes 
bear much resemblance to shoes found in various parts of 
Wlirtemberg, which Grosz figures, and which will be 
alluded to presently. He thought they belonged to the 
middle ages. 

It is also somewhat remarkable, that at Steinfurt, in 

' Publications de la Soc. pour la Recherche et la Conservation de 
Monuments, etc., vol. vii. p. 185. Luxembourg, 1852. 
"" Ibid. vol. ix. 

13 * 


the same Duchy of Luxemberg, Engling ' found two 
iron plates which had been horse-shoes, and he figures 
them among Roman urns and vases from this antique 
locality, believing them to be Roman. Each shoe pos- 
sesses six nail-holes, and has the ra'nmre circling from 
heel to heel. In shape they are not very unlike those 
from Dalheim (and which are now in the Archaeological 
Museum of Luxemberg). They are described as so 
remarkably small that they were surmised to have been 
worn by mules ; but, from their form, they were un- 
doubtedly intended for the small indigenous horse (figs. 
62, 60^). This grooved shoe is perfectly distinct from 

that of the Gauls or Celts, and is 
certainly a great advance in work- 
manship. The rough, bulging 
border gives place to an uniform 
^^- ^^ ^°- ^3 one ; and the groove, as well as 

the nail-holes and general form of the shoe, evidence skilful 
manufacture. From these discoveries, we are led to be- 
lieve that the powerful equestrian nation of the Suevi, 
as well as the German tribe which in after-times con- 
stituted the Burgundi, shod their horses immediately 
after, if not before, the Christian era. How they acquired 
the art we know not ; but it is well to remember that, in 
the 3rd century b.c, the Gauls passed along the line of 
the Danube as conquerors, and in their course left colonies 
among the Suevi, who, even in the time of Tacitus, still 
spoke the Gaulish tongue ; ' and also that it was often 

' Le Tombeau de Childeric I., p. 158. 
" Tacitus, lib. xliii. 


the Suevian cavalry, under Ariovistus, that the Sequani 
either fought with or against, in the wars between them 
and the ^dui or Romans. 

Colonel Smith, in noticing the universality of horse- 
shoeing, says for Germany : ' We have seen it sculptured 
in bas-relief with a Runic inscription certainly as old 
as the 9th century, accompanying a figure of Ostar, upon 
a stone found on the Hohenstein, near the Druden altar 
in Westphalia, a place of Pagan worship that was destroyed 
by the Franks in the wars of Charlemagne. Had the 
horse-shoe been invented in that age, it could not already 
have become an object of mysterious adaptation in the 
religion of barbarians, which was on the wane at least a 
century earlier.' ' 

Grosz^ mentions that, in the years 1730, 1744, 1761, 
and 1820, a somewhat large number of horse-shoes was 
found at certain places in Bavaria, during excavations. 
Some of them were very deeply buried, and thickly 
covered with rust. Though he does not altogether coin- 
cide in the views of several antiquarians as to the antiquity 
of these objects, yet his remarks are not without interest, 
particularly as he describes the different varieties which 
have been noted in Germany. 'The horse-shoes which 
have come down to us from remote periods, having been 
found in several parts of the country at various depths, 
show in general three essential varieties. 

' Op. cit., p. 131. The horse-shoe arch occurs frequently as a 
figure on the sculptured stones left by the Celts, and which are found 
in England, Scotland, and elsewhere. 

^ Lehr- und Handbuch der Hufbeschlagskunst. Stuttgart, 1861. 



fig. 64 
formed from the shoe itself. 

'The most numerous is that shown in figure 64. At 

the toe it is more than twice 
as broad as at the heel, but 
it is thinner throughout than 
a German shoe of now-a- 
days. All shoes of this kind 
are furnished with calks at 
the heels, and sometimes at 
the toes, some of which have 
been welded on after the 
shoe was made, and others 
The greater number have a 
groove, in which there are generally eight nail-holes. The 
seat of the shoe is flat. The heads of the nails are some- 
times narrow and sometimes broad, and project beyond 
the shoe. This variety of shoe is of several sizes, and no 
difference can be perceived between those of the fore and 
hind feet. According to tradition, it has been assumed 
that these broad shoes dug up in certain places were 
brought into the country by foreign armies, particularly 
by the Swedes (1632-48) ; but if one considers that not 
quite a hundred years ago there were no high roads in the 
country, and that horses were used mostly on badly-con- 
structed paths, it is then probable that with us such a 
broad shoe was customary and necessary for special pro- 
tection to the hoof. Still less should it be assumed that these 
shoes, as some would wish us to believe, were introduced 
by Roman armies ; for the Romans have been expelled 
Germany since the 3rd century, and it might well be asked 
whether iron would remain so long in the ground (1500 
years) without becoming entirely destroyed by rust. . . . 



Shoes of the second type, as shown in figure 6^^, are not 
unfrequently found in the 
neighbourhood of Stuttgart. 
They are of medium size, 
broad at the toe, with six or 
eight nail-holes, and partly 
grooved for the nail-holes. 
The sole is in some instances 
a little hollowed out towards 
the inner circumference ; the 
calks are high, square, and 
placed towards the ends of the branches, something like 
slipper-heels {PantqffelstoUen), cut off obliquely, and in 
some very much prolonged. Some of these shoes have 
only one calk («), which is long and pointed, while the 
other heel of the shoe {b), has merely an edge bent down- 
ward to match it. This shoe has a seat (richtung, curve to 
fit the foot) quite peculiar, the heel extremity being quite 
thin and tapering, and curving up towards the back part of 
the foot (fig. 66, a). The Oriental and Arab shoes have the 
same bend given to them 
even in the present day. 
Since these articles corre- 
spond with the descrip- 
tion of Spanish shoes 
both in their form and 
curve, and since Stuttgart 
was alternately besieged and occupied by the Spaniards 
in the years 1546 to 155 1, and in 1638, it may 
be assumed with reasonable certainty that they are ot 
Spanish origin.' 

fi!j. 66 



' Figure 6j exemplifies a form of shoe of somewhat rarer 

occurrence. The specimens 
found are generally small, cer- 
tainly never larger than mid- 
dle size ; they are narrow 
throughout, some being 
grooved and furnished with six 
or eight nail-holes ; opposite 
to which the outside edge 
bulges a little. Instead of 
having calks, the heel-ends of 
the shoes become gradually narrower and thicker towards 
the extremities. The nail-heads are wedge or chisel- 
shaped, and project beyond the face of the shoe. 
Judging from the size and shape of these objects, and 
from the character of the nail-heads, they appear to have 
served as winter shoes for riding-horses, and without doubt 
were introduced by foreign cavalry. (From the end of 
the 13th to the close of the i8th century, Stuttgart and its 
vicinity was often visited by foreign troops, such as Im- 
perialists, French, Spaniards, and Swedes.) These shoes 
are so oxidized and incrusted that they may well be looked 
upon as several hundred years old. 

. 'Besides the horse-shoes just described, antique shoes 
of peculiar shapes and different construction have been 
found here and there in several places in and outside 
Wiirtemberg ; so that it is evident that at the period to 
which they belong, the art of,shoeing was in a very primi- 
tive condition. Some few examples are provided with a 
groove, while others have long quadrangular nail-holes, 
often with oval countersinking ; some, again, are furnished 


with heel and toe calks of unusual shape, others are plane, 
but, at the same time, as a rule, they are of exceedingly 
coarse workmanship : a fact which may still be perceived 

despite the ravages made by rust Universal as the 

practice of shoeing is at the present day, there are yet 
places, such as North Germany, Hungary, and others, 
where it is not always necessary, and where horses are 
seldom shod, except on the fore-feet, or only in winter ; 
others, on the contrary, as the horses of the rich, being 
shod merely as a kind of luxury on all four feet.' 

The 'ajusted' or curved antique shoes are peculiar to 
Germany, it would appear. They have not been found in 
France, so far as I am aware; neither, as we will see hereafter, 
have they been met with in this country. It will be remem- 
bered that two specimens were found in Belgium. They 
seem to be generally grooved, and have peculiar calkins. 
Grosz's last illustration gives us the primitive undulating- 
bordered shoe. 

We have seen from M. Quiquerez's report, that the 
earliest traces of grooved or 'fullered' shoes are found 
with remains of the Burgundi, and constitute a new and 
characteristic form. This ancient people — one of the 
principal branches of the Vandals, originally inhabiting 
the country between the Oder and Vistula — have left 
numerous traces of their passage through, and sojourn in, 
various regions of Switzerland and Gaul in the 4th and 
subsequent centuries. They established themselves to 
the west of the Jura, about the same time that the Goths 
entered Aquitaine,' and appear to have been, from the 
remotest times, distinguished from the other German 

' Ai/g. Thierrij. Lettres sur I'Hist. de France, vi. 


tribes by living together in villages or hurgen (from 
whence their name); which caused them to be looked 
down upon by the Teutonic race, and accused of degen- 
eracy, in leading a life more adapted for the business of 
blacksmith or carpenter than that of a soldier. Sidonius 
Apollinaris, nevertheless, speaks of them as an army of 
giants ; ' and it appears certain that they were not only 
good artisans, but also brave warriors, in the intervals 
of peace earning a sufficient livelihood by their handi- 
crafts ; and that at the period of their residence among 
the ruined Gallo-Roman villas they shod their horses' 
feet with iron shoes. The discovery, in the tombs 
of these warriors, of the ' scramasax ' — a large cutlass, 
sharpened only on one edge, and a characteristic weapon 
of the ancient Germans, with knives belonging to the 
same period (between the 4th and 5th centuries), all 
having long deep grooves on both sides corresponding 
with that in their horse-shoes — indicates that with the 
Burgundians, as with the Gauls and Celts, the same 
individual was at once armourer and farrier. The earliest 
tradition we have of this people, and which belongs to the 
period preceding their invasion of Gaul, would lead us to 
believe that they were skilled horsemen and workers in 
metals. 'The dwarf Regin fled from the Burgundians 
to the court of the Prankish king Hialprek (Chilperic), 
who reigned on the banks of the Rhine, and there he 
undertook the duties of ' marechal ' (master of the horse 
and farrier). At this time he met the young Sigurd, son 
of King Sigmund, a descendant of Odin, who had mira- 
culously escaped from the murderers of his father. The 
' Carmen xii. apud Scrip. Franc, i. 811. 


dwarf directed the education of this prince, and spoke to 
him of the wonderful treasure of the Nibelungen, raising 
in him the desire to carry it off to Tafnir. He forged for 
him the sword ' Gram,' the blade of which was so sharp, 
that, when plunged in the Rhine, it cut in two a lock of 
wool carried against it by the current. He also attended 
to the incomparable steed ' Grani.' ' This skill in fabri- 
cating arms, and in the management of the horse, appears 
to have been a particular feature in the history of this 
people. In the middle ages, so highly were the services 
of the farrier esteemed, that at the court of the Dukes of 
Burgundy, on Saint Eloy's day, a piece of silver plate 
was given to the individual who shod the ducal horses.^ 

St Eloy, Eligius, or Euloge, was Bishop of Noyon in 
the 7th or 8th century, and by some means or other 
became the patron saint of farriers, and a gentle name to 
swear by in the days of Chaucer, who, in his ' Canterbury 
Pilgrims,' speaks of the 'Nonne' 

*^That of hir smiling was full simple and coyj 
Hir greatest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy.' 

The prioress's very tender oath, which custom of swearing 
was not at all an indelicate one for ladies, even for some 
centuries after Chaucer's time, has excited much con- 
tention among the commentators of the old poet. Warton 
declares that St Loy (the form in which the word appears 
in all the manuscripts) means, St Lewis : but in Sir David 
Lyndesay's writings St Eloy appears as an independent 
personage, in connection with horses or horsemanship, in 

' A. Reville. Etude sur I'Epopee des Nibelungen. 
=■ E. Houcl. Hist, du Cheval chez tous les Peuples. 


the way he occurs in the above and other traditions 
relating to horses or farriery. Lyndesay says : 

And again : 

' Saint EI07, he doth stoutly stand, 
Ane new horseshoe in his hand.' 

' Some makis offering to Saint Eloy, 
That he their horse may well convoy.' 

Horsemen also appear to have sworn by the good bishop ; 
for Chaucer makes the carter in the ' Friar's Tale,' when 
he had been assisted out of the mud into which his horses 
and cart had stuck fast, to thank his assistants by the best 
animal in his team, and to exclaim : 

' That was well twight (pulled) my owen Liard boy, 
I pray God save thy body, and Saint Eloy.' 

The saint was supposed to work great miracles among 
diseased animals. We will have more to say about him, 
however, at a later period. 

So far as I am able to ascertain, we have no 7uritten 
evidence to show that the Germans shod their horses 
before a.d. 1185. According to Anton/ about that time 
mention is made of the shoeing of two horses (II. equorum 
ferramenta, Kindliger). In some old German records, 
given on the authority of Shopflin, there is a notice that 
the smith was obliged to deliver sixteen horse-shoes and 
the necessary nails. And in another writing (Sachsen 
Spiegel), it is ordered that ' the horses of messengers (die 
Pferde der Boten) shall only be shod on the fore-feet.' 

' Geschichte der Teutschen Landwirthschaft von den Altesten 
Zeiten bis zu Ende des Funfzehnten Jahrhunderts, p. 37. Gorlitz, 


Grosz ' says that the shoeing of two horses is noticed 
in a Westphalian record of 1085. 

In the year 1336, we find the Abbot of Waltersdorf, 
in Bavaria, making the following contract with his smith 
concerning the work to be accomplished, and its payment. 
* He (the smith) is to make for his (the Abbot's) riding- 
horse three new steeled shoes {gestaehlte eisen) for two 
pence ; and to repair three old ones for one penny. For 
two or three nails to fasten them, he is to receive nothing 

and the work above stated is to be done with 

the Abbot's iron,' &c. 

In 1400, a tax was fixed at Stuttgard for smith's 
work, and among other items, ' 6 heller (halfpennies or 
farthings) was to be paid for forging a new shoe.' "" 

Horses appear to have been early employed by the 
Germans to draw carriages or carry litters, for it is re- 
corded that in the campaign of Arnulph or Arnold, 
Emperor of Germany, in Upper Italy, in 896, when 
returning across the Alps, a disease broke out among his 
horses which was so fatal, that, ' contrary to custom, oxen 
were employed to draw the litters instead.' ^ The use of 
horses in draught or carriage would have been very 
limited for Alpine travelling had they not been shod. 

In Germany, as elsewhere at this early period, the 
blacksmith held a good position, if we may judge by the 
price of his ivelir-geld, or ' blood-money.' The law of 
Gondebaud or Gombette, the most ancient of the bar- 
barian codes, makes it manifest that the life of a smith 

' Op. cit., p. 8. • Ibid., p. 9. 

3 Annales Fuldens. Pertz M., i. p. 411. 


was valued at five times the amount of a labourer or 
shepherd, and equal to that for the murder of a Roman 
slave belonging to the king/ The German and Salic 
laws also show that the duty of the '■ marechal ' or 
' mariscalcus ' was to attend to twelve horses. ' Si maris- 
calcus, qui super xii. caballos est, occiditur,' &c.^ 

From the Rhenish provinces as far as Russia, what is 
termed the German shoe is in use. This is the model 
figured by Quiquerez, and which is flat on both sides, 
and with the fuller or groove for the nail-heads so 
far from the edge of the shoe, as to m.ake the nail-holes 
very coarse. Immense calkins, and even toe-pieces of 
various shapes, are as much in vogue with the Germans 
as they are with the waggoners of Manchester, Liver- 
pool, and other large cities in England and Scotland. 

The Dutch and Russian shoes are coarse imitations of 
the German ones. 

For Scandinavia, I am not aware of any discoveries 
which would show that this handicraft was practised at a 
very early period. If we are to give credence to the his- 
torians, archaeologists, and anthropologists of that country, 
the Celtae inhabited this region of the north ; and if they 
did so, they doubtless preserved the same arts and usages 
as their nation in other parts of Europe. The 'Duergars' 
were their traditional workers in metals ; and these 
fabricated steel and iron implements in secret caves. I can 
find but little mention of shoes, however, though doubtless 
these cunning workmen armed the hoofs as well as the 
bodies of the warriors, who were essentially an equestrian 

' Martin. Op. cit., i. p. 437. " Lex Alemannor. Lex Salica. 


The high antiquity of the iron-worker's art is made 
apparent in the Voluspa, a poem containing the oldest 
traditions of the Northmen yet discovered, and which is 
an outline of the earliest Northern mythology. We are 
told how — 

The Asae met on the fields of Ida, 
And framed their images and temples. 
They placed their furnaces. They created money. 
They made tongs and iron tools. 

At a later period, to be a proficient in metallurgical 
operations was the ambition of princes. Harold, for 
example, in the poem entitled his 'Complaint,' when 
describing his address as a warrior, relates : ' I am master 
of nine accomplishments. I play at chess ; I know how 
to engrave Runic letters ; I am apt at my book, and I 
know to handle the tools of a smith ; I traverse the snow 
on skates of wood ; I excel in shooting with the bow, and 
in managing the oar ; I sing to the harp, and compose 

From the Sagas and the history of this region, it is 
evident that in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark horses 
were shod at an early period. At first only the rich and 
noble, perhaps, resorted to the use of shoes for their steeds, 
and some of these only for display, others when they had 
to travel on hard roads or during frosty weather. When 
used for agriculture, the horses may have been deprived 
of these defences. 

Col. Smith states that horse-shoes were in use in 
Sweden before the Norman conquest of England, since 
the figure of one is struck on a Swedish coin without 

^Mallet. Introduction a I'Histoire de Danemarc. London, 1770. 


inscription, and therefore older than the use of Runic 
letters on medals. 

In the eleventh century, shoes appear to have been in 
general use, for it is recorded that Oluf Kyrre, the first 
Norwegian king, caused those who sought his court to 
shoe their horses with golden shoes. 

Recent discoveries in the peat-mosses of Thorsbjerg 
and Nydam in Sleswig have exposed remains of men 
and horses, supposed to have found their way there in 
the ' early iron period of the third and fourth centuries ; ' 
but no shoes were found, though there were bridles, spurs, 
and nose-pieces to protect the horse's nose. Skulls and 
bones of horses, sometimes almost complete skeletons, were 
noted, and the state in which they were found is curious. 
' Near a tolerably complete skeleton of a horse, were found, 
besides shield-boards, shafts of lances, and other wooden 
objects, several beads, two iron bits, several metal mount- 
ings for shields, an iron spear-head, a whetstone, several 
arrow-heads, an awl of iron, and a Roman silver denarius. 
Not far from it were two skulls and other remains of 
horses, and near them some iron-bits. The skulls of 
horses, which, just as those last mentioned, appeared to have 
been deposited without the other parts of the animals, had 
still their bits in their mouths, one of the bits being in- 
complete and evidently deposited in that state. And if 
there could still be any doubt as to the skeletons being 
contemporaneous with the antiquities, it must yield to the 
fact that several of the skulls have been exposed to a 
similarly violent and inexplicable ill-treatment as the vast 
majority of the other objects deposited.' The bones 
were examined by Professor Steenstrap, the Director of 


the Museum of Natural History of Copenhagen, who pro- 
nounced them to have been the remains of three stallions of 
middle size. But the strangest thing is, that the skulls 
show the marks of heavy sword-cuts, which we are told 
could not have been inflicted while the animal was alive. 
Other portions showed that the horses had been pierced 
with arrows and javelins, while some of the bones had 
been gnawed by wolves or large dogs. There is here clearly 
something more than the mere death of the horse in bat- 
tle. The enemy in such a case would never have taken the 
trouble to hew away at the skull, ' lying,' we are told, ' on 
the ground before him,' and that. Professor Steenstrap is 
inclined to think, when the lower jaw had been separated 
from the upper, and when the bones were no longer covered 
with flesh. All this leads us irresistibly to think of some 
sacrificial ceremony, and of the famous proscription of 
horse-flesh by the Christian missionaries. Horse-flesh must 
have been held to be an unchristian diet only because it 
was in some way connected with the idolatrous worship of 
the Northmen ; the Mosaic prohibition could not have 
been urged by men who doubtless ate hogs, hares, and 
eels, without scruple. But then Professor Steenstrap tells 
us, that no "^ such marks have been discovered on the horse- 
bones from Nydam as could indicate a severance of the 
limbs, or that the flesh had been eaten." ' These appear to 
have been war-horses, and possibly at this time shoes may 
not have been worn at all frequently. We have seen that 
in France and Germany, long after shoeing was known, it 
was not universally practised. 

' Denmark in the Early Iron Age, by Conrad Engelheart. — Satur- 
day Review, Oct. 13, 1866. 





At what period Eastern nations first began to apply 
an iron defence to their horses' feet, and attach it by nails, 
it is impossible to fix with certainty. An anonymous 
writer in the United Service Magazine for 1849, quotes 
the form of the most ancient Asiatic horse-shoe as being 
exemplified in the brand-mark of a renowned breed 
of Circassian or Abassian horses, known by the name of 
Shalokh. ' The shape is perfectly circular, 
and instead of being fastened on by means 
of nails driven through the corneous por- 
tion of the hoof, it is secured by three 
clamps (fig. 68), that appear to have been 
closed on the outside, or on the ascending surface. Of 


the antiquity of this form of shoe there is no possibility of 
judging, because the exact counterpart of it existed already 
at the period when the Ionian Greeks had established fixed 
symbols as types of their cities and communities. It 
occurs on the coins of Lycia, and is known to numis- 
matists by the name of Triquetra (iig. 69). If there 
be any difference, it is in a row of points 
on the Lycian type, as if the shoe had 
been perforated with holes for small nails 
(fig, 70) ; and what makes the selection 
of this object for a symbol of the region 
in question the more remarkable is, that, 
in remote antiquity, it was there Celtic 
breeders are reported to have first com- 
menced their trade in mules. The horse- 
shoes of early historians, since they do not 
mention farriers, appear to have been of this Lycian 
form, or were not fastened with nails driven through 
the horny hoof. It is difficult to escape an admission 
that horse-shoes of this kind are as old as the Ionian 
establishments in Asia Minor, unless by denying that 
neither the Circassian brand-mark nor the Triquetra 
of Lycia represent them ; a conclusion which at least is 
totally at variance with the denomination of the m.ark by 
which the Kabardian breed is known, time out of mind. 
. . . The round shoe of the old Arabian method is evi- 
dently a modification of the Circassian or Lycian, the out- 
side clamps being omitted, and nail-holes substituted. . . . 
That the Arabs of the Hegira (a.d. 622), or within a 
generation later, shod their horses, is plain, if we believe 
the received opinion that the iron-work on the summit of 

14 * 


the standard of Hosein, at Ardbeil, was made from a 
horse-shoe belonging to Abbas, uncle of Mohammed, by 
order of his daughter Fatima. " It was brought," says 
the legend, " from Arabia by Scheik Sed Reddeen, son of 
the holy Scheik Sofi, who was son of another holy vil- 
lager, after the manner of the Moslem ! " If the inten- 
tion had been to advance a mere falsehood, it is to be 
wondered that Fatima, or the Prophet himself, should 
not have furnished a sacred shoe of one of the celebrated 
mares, from which sprung so many of the first breeds of 
Arabia, according to the assertions of devout Moslems. 
A horse-shoe most likely it was,' adds this writer, ' but 
how an uncle of Mohammed should possess horses when 
the Bein Koreish, as a tribe, were without, and the Pro- 
phet himself in the beginning of his career had only three, 
is quite another question.' 

It appears very unlikely that such an article as that 
shown in the Circassian brand-mark could ever have 
been employed as a shoe, or fixed to the hoof by the 
three clamps indicated above ; but to show that the 
Lycian triquetra could not be intended to represent a 
horse-shoe, I have copied in figures 68, 69, 70, and 71, 
this and similar impressions of coins. Figure 69 is the 
plain triquetra, from the original in the British Museum, 
and resembling Col. Smith's (who is, I believe, the author 
of the article just quoted from) Circassian shoe, in having 
no dots or points ; 70 is the triquetra that the writer refers 
to ; the original is in the Bibliotheque at Paris, but a draw- 
ing of it is given in Sir Charles Fellows' work on the 
Coins of Lycia.' It will be seen that the points could not 

^ Coins of Ancient Lycia before the Reign of Alexander. London, 



correspond to holes for small nails, wherewith to attach 
a shoe to a hoof, as they extend along the clamp which 
Col. Smith says was employed to grasp the front of the 
hoof. Fellows also gives a copy (No. 30) of a four- 
limbed figure belonging to this class (fig. 71), the original 
being in the British Museum, and which 
could never be meant to represent a shoe. 
Sir Charles Fellows does not attempt to 
explain the origin or import of the trique- 
tra, and it would certainly require a lively 
imagination to associate it in any way with horse-shoes. 
On the contrary, a very frequent device on the ancient coins 
of Pamphylia is three human legs, arranged like the hooks 
on the triquetra, and the same as borne by the currency 
of the Isle of Man. Figure 72 is a copy of an ancient 
coin in the British Museum, which has 
neither prongs nor men's legs, but cocks' 
heads ! Surely there is nothing here to 
offer the remotest conjecture as to the 
origin of Eastern shoeing ! 

Col. Smith asserts that ' there are indeed ancient 
Tartar horse-shoes of a circular form, apparently with 
only three nails or fasteners to the outside of the hoof;'' 
but we may be pardoned for doubting the correctness of 
this statement. 

That shoeing was known among the Arabs as early as 
the days of Mohammed, appears certain. In the chapter 

^^55- F'g- ^5- I am greatly indebted to Mr A. T. Murray of the 
British Museum, for tracings and impressions of these interesting and 
rare coins. 

' The Natural History of Horses, p. 130. 


of the Koran entitled ' Iron,' it is written : ' We for- 
merly sent our apostles with evident miracles and argu- 
ments ; and we sent down with them the scriptures, and 
the balance, that men might observe justice; and we sent 
them down iron, v^^herein is mighty strength for war, and 
various advantages unto mankind, that^ God may know 
who assisted him and his apostles in secret.' 

Sale explains the sentence, ' And we sent them down 
iron,' as follows: ' that is, he taught them how to dig the 
same from mines. Al Zamakhshari adds, that Adam is 
said to have brought down with him from paradise five 
things made of iron, viz. an anvil, a pair of tongs, two 
hammers (a greater and a lesser), and a needle.' 

In the chapter on ' Horses ' we are also led to infer 
that shoeing was known. ' By the war-horses which run 
swiftly to the battle, with a panting noise ; and by those 
ivhich strike Jire^ by dashing their hoofs against the stones ; 
and by those which make a sudden incursion on the 
enemy early in the morning,' etc.^ Unshod hoofs, one 
would be inclined to think, could not strike fire against 
the stones. 

Heusinger ^ quotes the names of several authorities 
who were of opinion that the art of shoeing was carried 
to Constantinople by the Germans. Certain it is, as has 
been already noticed, that the 'Tactita' of the emperor 
Leo VI., written at Constantinople in the ninth century, 
is the first writing in which modern shoes and nails are 
mentioned. The Byzantine emperors had a guard of honour 
composed of Saxons from a very early period of the empire. 

' Sa/c. Koran, vol. ii. p. ^6^. ^ Ibid. p. 440. 


Under the Emperor Michael of Constantinople 
(1038) the horses of the Greek cavalry were shod. The 
Sicilian horses also at that period had their hoofs pro- 
tected in this manner. 

The Arabs themselves say their first farriers came to 
them from towns on the sea-board : such as Fez, Tunis, 
Masarca, Tlemcen, and Constantine, since when their 
knowledge and their calling have been perpetuated in 
certain families from generation to generation. 

The practice of shoeing among these people is curious, 
and would almost indicate an independent origin, as well- 
as a high antiquity. Contrary to the accepted opinion, 
says General Daumas,' the Arabs of the Sahara are in the 
custom of shoeing their horses, whether on the two fore- 
feet, or on all four, according to the nature of the ground 
they occupy. Those who shoe them oh all four feet are 
the inhabitants of the stony districts, and these constitute 
the majority. It is the universal practice to take the 
shoes off in the spring, when the animals are turned out 
to grass ; the Arabs asserting that care must be taken not 
. to check the renewal of the blood which takes place at 
that season of the year. 

The horse-shoes are kept ready made, and always com- 
mand a sure sale, the Arabs being in the habit of laying 
* in their supply for the whole year, consisting of four sets 
for the fore-feet, and four for the hind-feet. The nails 
are likewise made by the farriers. When a horseman 
goes to a farrier, taking his shoes with him, the latter is paid 
by his privileges, and when the horse is shod, its master 
gets on its back, merely saying : ' Allah, have mercy on 
' Les Chevaux du Sahara. Pans, 1862. 


thy fathers!' He then goes his way, and the farrier re- 
turns to his work. But if the horseman does not bring his 
shoes with him, he gives two boudjous to the farrier for 
the complete set, and his thanks are couched in the simplest 
formula of Arab courtesy. ' Allah give thee strength ! ' 
he says, as he takes his departure. 

In the Sahara, in Syria, and throughout Arabia, the 
shoes are fitted in a cold state. In the foot of the horse, 
say the horsemen of these regions, there are hollow in- 
terstices, such as the frog, the heel, etc., which it is always 
dangerous to heat, if only by the approach of the hot 
iron. This aversion, founded on the destructive action of 
an extreme degree of heat on the delicate parts of the 
foot, is so strong among them, that in bivouacs, when the 
Arabs of the Sahara saw the French shoeing their horses, 
and fitting the red-hot shoes to the hoofs, they exclaimed, 
' Look at those Christians pouring oil upon fire !' In a 
word, they cannot understand why — especially in long 
marches, when exercise makes the feet more vascular, any 
one should wish to increase this natural heat by the action 
of hot iron. 

The shoes are very light, but made of well-hammered 
iron. In the fore-shoes, only three nails are driven in each 
side, through round holes which are close together. The 
toes remain free, as the Arabs say nails in that part of the 
foot would interfere with its elasticity, and would cause in 
the horse, when he sets the hoof on the ground, precisely 
the same sensation a man experiences from wearing a tight 
shoe. Many accidents, they assert, thence ensue. The 
hoofs are neither pared nor shortened, adds Daumas, and 
the horn is allowed to grow freely, the very stony ground 


and incessant work sufficing to wear it off naturally as it 
tries to get beyond the iron. The necessity for paring 
the feet is only perceived when horses have been for a 
long time fastened in front of the tent without doing any 
work, or have remained long in the Tell. In such a case, 
the Arabs simply make use of the sharp-pointed knives 
which they are never without. This method has the 
further advantage, that if a horse casts a shoe he can still 
proceed on his journey, as the sole remains firm and 
hard. ' With you,' they say, ' and with your practice of 
paring the foot, if the horse casts a shoe you must pull up, 
or see him bleeding, halting, and suffering.' 

In Syria, however, the hoofs are shortened, and the 
wall pared level with the sole. The shoes are somewhat 
circular, or pear-shaped, and riveted, welded, lapped over, 
or left open at the heels. The annexed figures repre- 
sent a Syrian shoe and nail (fig. 73) ; shoes and nails 
worn in the provinces of Constantine, Oran (fig. 74), 

■,^,. A^ 

.fig- 74 

and Algeria (fig. 75) ; also a shoe from Morocco, found 
in a Moorish farrier's tent after the battle of Isly (fig. 


76). The African shoes, it will be observed, are somewhat 


fig- 75 

square at the toe and approaching the little V in shape. 
The central opening is somewhat triangular, and in the 
Moorish shoe the heels are welded and bent up towards 
the frog. As the horse can only suffer in the part that is 
most sensitive, they think, and not in the part that is hard, 
it is, of course, the frog that should be shielded from 
accident. The shoes should therefore cover the frogs. 
But this practice, and the undue curvature they give to 
the heels of the metal plate, is productive of great injury 
to the parts they were intended to protect ; pebbles and 
gravel insinuate themselves between the shoe and the 
frog, and seriously damage the latter ; while the point of 
the shoe, pressing unduly on the heels, produces such pain 
that the poor horse is often compelled to walk on his toes. 
The sole pressure exercised by the shoe is decidedly bene- 
ficial, and explains in a great measure the almost total 
absence of contracted hoofs and various lamenesses which 
are the bane of our horses. They give to the nail-heads 
the form of a grasshopper's head, the only shape, they 
allege, that allows the nails to be worn down to the last 


without breaking. They approve of our method of 
driving the nails into tlie hoofs and clenching them on 
the outside, which prevents a horse cutting himself; but 
their scarcity of iron obliges them to content themselves 
with hammering the nail-points close to the face of the 
hoof, sometimes in a curled fashion, like the Celtic nails, 
so as to preserve them in a state fit for use a second time, 
by making a new head. If a horse over-reaches himself, 
they cut away his heels and place light shoes on his fore- 
feet, but heavier ones on his hind-feet. They are careful 
not to leave one foot shod and the other unshod. 
During a journey, if a horse chances to cast one of his 
fore-shoes, and his rider has not a fresh supply with him, 
he takes off both the hind-shoes and puts one of them on 
the fore-foot ; and if the animal is shod only on his fore- 
feet, the rider will take the shoe off the other foot, rather 
than leave him in such a condition. Should a horse, 
after a long journey such as the horsemen of the desert 
not unfrequently make, require to be shod, it is no un- 
common thing to place a morsel of felt between the shoe 
and the foot. 

The necessity, caused partly by the nature of the 
ground, and partly by the length of their excursions, of 
shoeing the horses of the Sahara, has shown the ex- 
pediency of accustoming the colt to let himself be shod 
without resistance. They therefore give him kouskous- 
sou, cakes, dates, &c., while he allows them to lift his foot 
and knock upon it. They then caress his neck and 
cheeks, and speak to him in a low tone ; and thus, after a 
while, he lifts his feet whenever they are touched. The 
little difficulty experienced at a later period, thanks to this 


early training, has probably given rise to the Arab hyper- 
bole : ' So wonderful is the instinct of the thoroughbred 
horse that, if he casts a shoe, he draws attention to it 
himself by showing his foot.' This exaggeration at least 
proves how docile these horses are to be shod, and further 
explains how every horseman in the desert ought to have 
the knowledge and the means of shoeing his own horse 
while on a journey. With them it is a point of the 
highest importance. It is not enough to be very skilful 
in horsemanship, or to train a horse in the most perfect 
^manner, to acquire the reputation of a thorough horse- 
man ; in addition to all this, he must likewise be able to 
put on a shoe if necessary. Thus, on setting out for a 
distant expedition, every horseman carries with him in his 
djehira shoes, nails, a hammer, pincers, some strips of 
leather to repair his harness, and a needle. Should his 
horse cast a shoe, he alights, unfastens his camel-rope, 
passes one end round the kerbouss of the saddle, and the 
other round the pastern, and ties the two ends together 
at such a length as will make the horse present his foot. 
The animal stirs not an inch, and his rider shoes him 
without assistance. If it be a hind-shoe that has been 
thrown, he rests the foot upon his knee, and dispenses 
with aid from his neighbours. To avoid making a mis- 
take, he passes his awl into the nail-holes, in order to 
assure himself beforehand of the exact direction the nails 
should take. If, by chance, the horse is restive, he ob- 
tains for the hind-feet the help of a comrade, who pinches 
the nose or ears of the animal. For the fore-feet, he 
merely turns his hind-quarters towards a thick prickly 
shrub, or extemporizes another mode of punishment with 
a nose-bag filled with earth. Such cases, however, are rare. 


The Saharenes declare that the French shoes are 
much too heavy, and in long and rapid excursions must 
be dreadfully fatiguing to the articulations, and cause 
much mischief to the fetlock joints. 'Look at our 
horses,' say they, ' how they throw up the earth and sand 
behind them ! How nimble they are ! How lightly they 
lift their feet ! How they extend or contract their muscles ! 
They would be as awkward and as clumsy as yours did 
we not give them shoes light enough not to burden their 
feet, and the materials of which, as they grow thinner, 
commingle with the hoof, and with it form one solid 
body.' When to these remarks General Daumas has 
answered, that he did not discover any of the incon- 
veniences pointed out in the European mode of shoe- 
ing, the Arabs have replied : ' How should you do so ? 
Cover, as we do, in a single day, the distance you rake 
five or six days to accomplish, and then you will see. 
Grand marches you make, you Christians, with your 
horses ! As far as from my nose to my ear !' 

Petrus Bellonius Cenomanus,' more than two hundred 
years ago, says that the shoes used by the Turks for their 
horses were in his day scarcely one-half the weight of the 
European shoes — one of the latter having material enough 
to make two of the former. The Turks were accustomed 
to buy the large and small shoes ready made, as at present, 
but the holes were not made in them. They were fitted to 
the feet, and the holes formed when required for use. 
The smith sat like a tailor with his legs doubled under 
him ; and bending over the anvil, with a well-tempered 
punch and hammer the shoe was perforated, and another 
sharp square punch was twisted round in them to widen 

' A/drovarulus. De Quadrupedibus, p. ^o. 


them to the proper size. The shoes had no calkins, as 
the horses did not require them either when at rest or 
when going at full speed, because of the nails with which 
they were fastened on, and which had large oblong heads, 
in shape like the heart of a pigeon. He also mentions 
that when horses were lightly worked, ' it was thought a 
good custom to shoe them only for half the year; so 
that, during war, the hoofs may stand wear a long time 
without shoeing.' 

Though all the Arabs are cognizant of shoeing, and 
the advantages to be derived from it, yet, as we have seen, 
among the most valuable properties of a horse, they cer- 
tainly attach very much importance to hard, strong, and 
sound hoofs. Abd-El-Kader explicitly mentions, that 
the best Arab horses for traversing stony ground without 
being shod, are those of the Hassasna tribe in the 
Yakoubia. Horses are not shod in Muscat,' and never- 
theless perform long journeys. 

It may well be considered very strange that none of 
the celebrated Arab hippiatrists of the early or middle 
ages, and whose treatises are yet extant, speak of the 
farrier's art. My researches have been fruitless in this 
respect. Abou-Bekr, the author of Naceri, a popular 
Arab work on the horse, and which is supposed to have 
been written in the 14th century, never mentions it save 
as an orthopodic resource. Hizam, an ancient veterinary 
writer, recommends castration for horses whose hoofs are 
naturally thin and undeveloped, on the supposition that the 
horn is always thicker and stronger in emasculated animals. 

It is curious to observe, that the circular shoe is yet 

' Stocqueler. Fifteen Months' Pilgrimage, vol. i. p. 7. 


worn in some of the countries which were invaded by the 
Moors or Turks in the middle ages. The Portuguese, 
according to Goodwin ^ and Rev/ still employ it. It is 
the same flat plate of iron, with a sharp ridge round the 
outer edge, like the Syrian, Persian, Barbary, and Turkish 
shoes, but in substance it is thicker. It is flat on both 
sides ; the nail-holes are of an oblong square shape, very 
large, and extend far into the shoe, which is nearly round, 
covering the bottom of the foot, except a small hole in 
the centre. The heel, however, unlike the others, is 
turned down to the ground, for greater security in travel- 
ling. The principle of nailing is the same as in the 
French shoeing, and being flat on both sides, is superior 
to both, in the opinion of Mr Goodwin (fig. 77). 

Spain preserves the upturned 
heels, the plane surfaces, and the cir- 
cular, sharp, projecting rim of the 
Oriental shoe. This may be accepted 

as a proof that the Moors shod their 

horses while occupying Spain ; but as v^ ' 

another proof that shoeing was prac- 
tised in the nth century, in the time 
of the Cid, we have the story of King ^^- ^^ 

Alphonso escaping from the captivity imposed upon him by 
Ali Maymon, the Moorish King of Toledo, and a certain 
Count Pedro Anserez, or Peransures, advising him to 
have his horse's shoes nailed on in reverse — heels to toe, 
and so mislead his pursuers. Alphonso effected his 
escape, though it is not mentioned whether this cunning 

' New System of Shoeing Horses, p. 167, 
" Traite de Marechalerie Veterinaire, p. 469. Lyons, 1852. 


device, which in after-ages was resorted to, had any 
influence in promoting it/ Since the invasion of the 
Turks, their mode of shoeing has prevailed more or less 
in Transylvania, though the shoe somewhat resembles 
that of the Moors, but with more cover. The heels 
are brought together like the letter V, and welded so as 
to form a wide patch projecting behind. The holes, 
three on each side, are circular. ' Wherever the Mus- 
sulman has exercised his authority for any length of time,' 
says Defays,^ ^ some traces of his shoeing remain.' 

The Iberian peninsula has been successively invaded 
by the Romans, who introduced among the Lusitanians 
a branch of the wide-spread Celts ; by the Germanic 
tribes — Alans, Suevi, Goths, and Vandals; and finally, 
by the Saracens, who were expelled after the decisive vic- 
tory of Ourique. As a consequence of these invasions, 
it appears that at the present day we have traces of the 
characteristic shoeing existing which was practised by 
each of the foreign races. 

The circular shoe, more or less modified in shape, 
prevails over a large extent of the continents of Africa 
and Asia, but we are left in grave doubts as to the origin 
of this particular form of hoof-armature. It displays 
a certain amount of originality, yet not sufficient, one 
would be inclined to think, to warrant the opinion that it 
was an independent invention. The form is but of 
secondary importance: garnishing the foot with a metallic 
plate, and attaching it by means of nails driven through 

' Chronica de Famoso Cavallero Cid Ruy Diaz Campeador, cap. 42. 
Burgos, 159.3. 

"^ Annales de Med. Ver., p. 260. Bruxelles, 1867. 


the horny envelope, is the chief consideration. The 
paucity of written evidence in regard to the introduction 
or origin of this art among Eastern peoples, leaves us no 
room to hope for a satisfactory investigation of the sub- 
ject. Many nations in Asia, though aware of its exist- 
ence, yet never require its aid ; while others resort to 
various contrivances instead. Yet among those who shoe 
their steeds, the practice appears to have been adopted at 
a comparatively recent period. 

In the vicinity of Tomsk, on the upper Obi, far 
towards the high land of Central Asia, there are scattered 
a great number of tumuli, which for centuries had occa- 
sionally furnished rich spoils to the Calmuck Tartars, 
the present tenants of the soil. I find that the veracious 
old Scotchman, John Bell of Antermony, who travelled 
over-land from St Petersburg to Peking, in 17 19, with 
a Russian embassy, mentions these mounds in the cradle 
land of our race. 'About eight or ten days' journey 
from Tomsky, in this plain, are found many tombs 
and burying-places of ancient heroes, who in all pro- 
bability fell in battle. These tombs are easily dis- 
tinguished by the mounds of earth and stones raised 
upon them. When, or by whom, these battles were 
fought, so far to the northward, is uncertain. I was 
informed by the Tartars in the Baraba, that Tamer- 
lane, or Timyr-Ack-Sack, as they call him, had many 
engagements in that country with the Kalmucks ; whom 
he in vain endeavoured to conquer. Many persons go 
from Tomsky, and other parts, every summer, to these 
graves ; which they dig up, and find, among the ashes of 
the dead, considerable quantities of gold, silver, brass, and 


some precious stones ; but particularly hilts of swords and 
armour. They also find ornaments of saddles and bridles, 
and other trappings for horses ; and even the bones of 
horses, and sometimes those of elephants. Whence it 
appears, that when any general or person of distinction 
was interred, all his arms, his favourite horse, and servant, 
were buried with him in the same grave ; this custom 
prevails to this day among the Kalmucks and other 
Tartars, and seems to be of great antiquity. It appears 
from the number of graves, that many thousands must 
liave fallen on these plains ; for the people have continued 
to dig for such treasure many years, and still find it un- 
exhausted. I have seen several pieces of armour, and 
other curiosities, that were dug out of these tombs ; par- 
ticularly an armed man on horseback, cast in brass, of no 
mean design or workmanship ; also figures of deer, cast 
in pure gold, which were split through the middle, and 
had some small holes in them, as intended for ornaments 
to a quiver, or the furniture of a horse. While we were 
at Tom sky, one of these grave-diggers told me, that once 
they lighted on an arched vault; where they found the 
remains of a man, with his bow, arrows, lance, and. other 
arms, lying together on a silver table. On touching the 
body it fell to dust. The value of the table and arms 
was very considerable.'' 

The Russian government at length sent officers to ex- 
amine those tombs that had not yet been rifled ; and, among 
others, they discovered one of three stone vaults, contain- 
ing the skeleton of a man with costly arms by his side, 
resting on a plate of pure gold several pounds in weight ; 

' Travels from St Petersburg in Russia to Diverse Parts of Asia, 
vol. i. p. i8i. London, 1764. 


and another of a woman similarly laid on a gold plate, 
having bracelets and jewels of great value on the arms ; 
while the third held the remains of a war-horse richly 
caparisoned, with horse-shoes on the feet, and metal stir- 
rups for the rider. This tumulus, no doubt, contained 
the remains of some mighty Khan, though not of great 
antiquity, since the stirrups attached to the horse's saddle 
prove a comparatively late date. The shoes, by the 
form they displayed, may have been of European work- 
manship, and the whole deposit of the time of the great 
Tartar invasion of Russia and Poland, between 1237 and 
1 241.' When the Tartars were visited by mediagval 
travellers, they were already in what has been called 
the iron stage of civilization. Marco Polo, who was one 
of these visitors, when travelling in Badakshan, in the 13th 
century, remarks that the country was an extremely cold 
one, but that it produced a good breed of horses, which 
ran with great speed over the wild tracts without being 
shod with iron.^ This notice would almost lead to the 
belief, that the people among whom he had been previously 
travelling had resorted to this defence, and it is also an evi- 
dence that he was acquainted with the practice in Europe. 
Beauplan, travelling among the Tartars of the Ukraine 
and the Crimea in the 17th century, says that 'when 
the ground is hardened by frost or snow, the Tartars 
fasten {consent) under the feet of their horses bits of old 
horn, with the intention of preventing their slipping and 
preserving their hoofs from wear.' ^ 

' United Service Magazine, 1849. 

^ Narrative of the Travels of Marco Polo, p. 234. London, 1849. 
3 Voyage au Midi de la Russie, 1680. ' Lorscjuc la terre est durcie 

i^ * 


Pallas writes of the Cossacks of Jaik (Orembourg), 
that their horses are not shod, because the dry soil in- 
duces them to have very fine and very hard hoofs.' 

Wood, who travelled in Turkestan six centuries 
later, informs us that the Uzbeks shod their horses on 
the fore-feet, ' and the shoes are in shape a perfect cir- 
cle.' ^ 

In one of the oldest Astrakan Tartar songs, composed 
towards the end of the 14th century, entitled 'Adiga,' and 
written in the Nogay-Tartar dialect, the extravagant 
fashion of shoeing is alluded to. A Mongol Khan was 
jealous of Adiga, a Tartar chief, who was in consequence 
compelled to fly to the desert. He was brought back, how- 
ever, and offered a numerous stud of mares, that he might 
drink kumiss, and have the meadows of Karaday for the 
pasture of his hunting-horses, where they would be made 
fat as 'lions' thighs.' The Mongol, full of wrath because 
he would not accept this splendid offer, ordered many 
horses to be killed and a great quantity of mead to be 
brewed, in order to feast all the tribes whom he wished 
to assemble in conference before going to war with Adiga's 
people. None of his nobles could advise him ; but they 
referred him to a sage named Sobra, who lived some dis- 
tance off", and who could give advice. ' If so,' said the 
Mongol, ' then bid the horse be put to my golden chariot 
{Ms). Let the horses be shod with golden shoes and silvei- 

par la gelee ou par la neige, les Tartares cousent sous les pieds de leurs 
chevaux des morceaux de vieille corne, afin de les empecher de glisser 
et d'empecher I'usure des pieds.' 

' Voyages, vol. ii. p. 107. ' On ne les ferre pas, parce que le sol 
sec leur procure un sabot tres-beau et tres-dur.' 

^ Journey to the Source of the Oxus. 


nails ; and, having covered them with golden trappings, 
let them go and fetch Sobra.' ' 

That horses were shod in this part of the world with 
plates like those now in use in Europe, in the i6th cen- 
tury, we find testified in another Tartar song on the cap- 
ture of Kazan by the Russians in 1552. Alluding to the 
famous war-horse of a prince, it relates that ' under the 
feet of Argamack the horse-shoes look like new moons. Its 
tail and mane are painted with hennah ; on its back hang 
silk trappings ; on its neck, in a talisman, round like a 
ring, is a prayer.' ^ 

It is a remarkable circumstance, that in the neigh- 
bourhood of Peking, and from thence throughout Eastern 
Tartary, as far as I have travelled, shoes resembling in 
shape those of this country are in general wear. I could 
learn nothing of the antiquity of the custom in this re- 
mote part of the world ; but the shoes are extremely 
primitive, and very like those we have been describing as 
Celtic. In journeying toward the eastern termination of 
the Great Wall, 'you cannot help bestowing a passing 
glance at the operations of the Ting-chang-ta, as the 
shoer of hoofs is denominated, for you may require his 
assistance frequently during your travel to secure your 
pony's clanking shoes, or to adjust a new pair ; and you are 
certain to find him busy in the most crowded thorough- 
fare, or in the most stirring corner of the market-place. 
He is not, generally, a very bold man in his calling, nor 
has he much patience with skittish or unmanageable 
solipeds ; for he too often makes it his practice to secure 
the unruly or vicious brute in the old-fashioned " trevises," 

' Chochko. The Popular Poetry of Persia. " Ibidem. 



or stocks — exact counterparts of those employed by 
country farriers in Britain and the Continent half a cen- 
tury ago — where it is firmly bound and wedged in by 
ropes and bars, and a twitch — an instrument of punish- 
ment still tolerated in other lands — twisted to agony round 
the under-lip of the subdued beast, until its extremities 
have been iron-clad. The more docile and submissive 
animal is less harshly dealt with, for it is allowed to stand 
untied, with one of its feet flexed on a low three-legged 
stool, while the workman shaves off great slices of super- 
fluous horn from the thick soles, with an instrument which 

fig. 78 

differs in no particular that we can see from the now 
obsolete " buttress " of England, or the present boutoir of 
France (fig. 78). Perhaps a fidgety draught animal does 


not quite relish the idea of parting from its worn-out shoes ; 
and the squeamish shoer, to avoid sundry uncomfortable 
contusions on his shins, stands some distance off, and 
hammers at the end of a long thin-pointed poker, inserted 
between the useless plate of iron and the hoof, to twist 
it off. Whether aware of it or not, like the French, the 
Chinese seem to prefer the foot in process of shoeing 
being held up by an assistant, instead of courageously 
grasping it as our farriers do. The Tartar ponies being 
light-paced and small, and the roads not very stony, 
the shoe is light, thin, narrow, and quite ductile. It is, 
in fact, nothing more than a slight rim of tough iron, 
pierced by four nail-holes, with a separate groove for the 
reception of each nail-head ; and the heels are drawn so 
thin, that when the shoe is nailed on the foot they are bent 
inwards to catch each angle of the inflection of the hoof, 
and in this way support the nails (fig. 79). Altogether, it is 
far more like one of our own horse- 
shoes than those of the Afghans, the 
Arabian or Barbary, or the Persian 
and Turkish curiosities, and certainly 
very far superior to the straw sandal 
everywhere used in Japan to protect 
the horses' feet. There is little care and a great deal of 
dexterity exhibited in nailing on one of these iron plates. 
The excellent strong feet of the ponies afford every facil- 
ity for a rough-and-ready job. The overgrown horn is 
shaved away to a level surface ; a single blow makes the 
shoe narrower or wider without heating : it is applied to the 
solid crust, and one by one the unbending nails are sent 
through the whole thickness of the insensitive part of the 


hoof with a few sharp taps, the tips of the nails being 
only simply twisted and hammered close to the face of 
the hoof; and the Wayland smith has earned his groat. At 
odd interva-s one comes upon a group of these tinkers arm- 
ing the hot, painful, road-worn toes of prostrate struggling 
bullocks with a nearly semicircular plate of metal on the 
outer margin of the hoof ; and so smartly, that the bellow- 
ing creatures have hardly been thrown on the ground and 
secured than they are up again, proof against the hard, 
sun-baked roads.' ' 

Perhaps we are not making a very wide ethnological 
jump, if we pass from this part of the Old World to the 
Rocky Mountains of the New Continent, and note the 
customs among the equestrian, though not horse-loving, 
tribes of Indians in that wild region. The horse has had 
but little influence in civilizing the many clans who have 
become horsemen since that animal was introduced by 
the early Spaniards, and they have done as little in 
attempting to prevent its degeneracy in their hands. 
Iron shoes are never worn on the hoofs, but when tra- 
velling over rock ground, and the unfortunate animals 
become footsore, a- substitute for the metal is found in 
what is termed ' parfleche.' This is the untanned, sun- 
dried hide of the buffulo or elk, in which the pounded 
flesh or ' pemmican ' made from these beasts is wrapped up 
and preserved, and on which these people largely subsist. 
The thick, hairy skin, I am informed, makes an excellent 
temporary covering for the foot, forming, when tied 
round the pastern, a convenient hoof-buskin, like that 
made from camel's hide in the Soudan. 

' See my ' Travels on Horseback in Maalchu Tartary/ p. 399. 



TION OF smiths' tools. triads. sons OF THE BOND. THE 





Britain probably received its earliest population from 
Gallia Celtica some centuries before the Christian era, and 
these Belgiae or Cimbri were what we now term the an- 
cient Britons. The island, however, was in all probability 
populated before the arrival of these wanderers, though we 
know little of its history until the advent of the Romans. 
At Caesar's invasion it was well populated, and the interior 
was inhabited by people who believed themselves to be 
autochthones. The southern and eastern coasts were more 
particularly occupied by the emigrants from Belgic Gaul, 
who had crossed the channel and the northern sea, attract- 
ed by the prospect of plunder. After having obtained a 
footing they became agiiculturists. They possessed the 
same manners as the Gauls, though their social con- 
dition was less advanced ; the Celts in Gaul having 
attained a comparatively high degree of civilization. They 
were also more fierce than their kindred on the other side 
of the channel, and were altogether, perhaps, in a more 
degraded condition than those tribes we have been con- 
sidering. Their religion was the same as that of the 
Gauls, and Tacitus tells us that they had the same wor- 
ship and the same superstitions.' Druidism found a con- 
genial home in Britain when banished from the con- 
tinent, though it had existed in this country, in all 
likelihood, from the landing of the nomads ; and with its 
mysterious and dismal rites, it no doubt claimed the same 

' Agricola, ii. 


amount of metallurgic skill that it secretly practised at 
Alesia and elsewhere. 

Fierce and undaunted in battle, the ancient Britons 
were also a horse-loving people, and largely employed 
horses in peace, as well as in war. They appear to have 
been passionately fond of horses, as the fragments of 
their poetry that have reached us abundantly testify : and 
it would almost appear that all their fighting men were 
mounted on spirited steeds.' Whether ridden by their 
fearless masters, or harnessed to the multitudes of chariots 
so conspicuous in their armies, the little hardy British 
steeds appear to have been well trained. Caesar's first 
impression of them was anything but favourable to the 
expected success of the Roman arms. When attempting 
to land upon our coast, he thus describes them : ' The 
barbarians (as was then the fashion to designate our valiant 
woad-stained forefathers), upon perceiving the design of 
the Romans, sent forward their cavalry and charioteers 
{essedarii), a class of warriors of whom it is their prac- 
tice to make great use in their battles ; and following 
with the rest of their forces, endeavoured to prevent our 
men landing. In this was the greatest difficulty, for the 
following reasons, namely, because our ships, on account 
of their great size, could be stationed only in deep 
water ; and our soldiers, in places unknown to them, with 
their hands embarrassed, oppressed with a large and heavy 
weight of armour, had at the same time to leap from 

' For proof of this, see that most interesting collection of traditional 
poetry translated from the Welsh by Mr Skene, entitled ' The Four 
Ancient Books of Wales.' Edinburgh, 1 868. The poem designated the 
' Triads of the Horses ' is very remarkable. 


the ships, stand amid the waves, and encounter the 
enemy ; whereas they, either on dry ground, or advancing 
a little way into the water, free in all their limbs, in places 
thoroughly known to them, could confidently throw 
their weapons, and spur on their horses, which were 
accustomed to this kind of service. Dismayed by these 
circumstances, and altogether untrained in this mode of 
battle, our men did not all exert the same vigour and 
eagerness which they had been wont to exert in engage- 
ments on dry ground But the enemy, who were 

acquainted with all the shallows, when from the shore 
they saw any coming from a ship one by one, spurred on 
their horses, and attacked them while embarrassed ; many 
surrounded a few, others threw their weapons upon our 
collected forces on their exposed flank ! '' 

Their cavalry and chariots often awed the valorous 
Romans, and frequently defeated them. They used the 
' Essedum,' or war-chariot, much as the Greeks did in the 
heroic ages ; but this chariot was more ponderous than 
that of the Greeks, and opened before instead of behind. 
The wheels were armed with scythes, and the pole was wide 
and strong, so that the warrior was able, whenever he liked, 
to run along its top, and even to raise himself upon the 
yoke, then retreat with the greatest speed into the body of 
the car, which was driven with extraordinary swiftness and 
skill. Contrary to the custom with the Greeks, the drivers 
ranked above their fighting companions. These chariots 
were much esteemed by the Britons, and were made pur- 
posely as noisy as possible, so that by creaking and clang- 
ing of wheels they might strike dismay. 

' Bell. Gall., lib. iv. cap.' 24 — 26. 


' Their mode of fighting with their chariots is this : 
firstly, they drive about in all directions, and throw their 
weapons, and generally break the ranks of the enemy with 
the very dread of their horses and the noise of their wheels ; 
and when they have worked themselves in between the 
troops of horse, leap from their chariots and engage on 
foot. The charioteers in the mean time withdraw some 
little distance from the battle, and so place themselves with 
the chariots that, if their masters are overpowered by the 
number of the enemy, they may have a ready retreat to 
their own troops. Thus they display in battle the speed 
of horse, together with the firmness of infantry ; and by 
daily practice and exercise attain to such expertness that 
they are accustomed, even on a declining and steep place, 
to check their horses at full speed, and manage and turn 
them in an instant and run along the pole, and stand on 
the yoke, and thence betake themselves with the greatest 
celerity to their chariots again.' ^ Thus they filled the 
middle of the field of battle with their tumult and wheel- 
ing and careering. The Britons appear to have been the 
only people in Europe who fought from chariots, a cir- 
cumstance which affords the early British historian, Geoffrey 
of Monmouth, an argum.ent to prove that they were of 
Trojan origin. 

The immense number of horses they possessed may 
be judged from the fact, that Cassivelaunus, the British 
chief who was invested with the supreme command of 
the forces of the island, in order to oppose Caesar, after 
dismissing all his other troops, yet retained no fewer than 
4000 war chariots about him. And their cavalry was 

' Cccsar. Op. cit., lib. iv. cap. '^^. 


not to be despised. ' The mode of fighting on horse- 
back threatened equal danger to those who gave way, or 
those who pursued. They never engaged in close order, 
but in small parties, and with great intervals, and had 
detachments placed in different parts, and then the one 
relieved the other, and the vigorous and fresh succeeded 
the wearisome.' ' The horses and charioteers of the enemy 
contended vigorously in a skirmish with our cavalry on 
the march ; yet so that our men were conquerors in all 
parts, and drove them to their woods and hills.'' Nothing 
but the superior organization of the Romans, and the 
ability of their generals, prevented their being defeated 
by this equestrian people. 

That the Celts in Britain were well acquainted with 
iron, and placed a high value on it, we learn from He- 
rodian. He says : ' They know not the use of clothing, 
but encircle their loins and necks with iron ; deeming 
this an ornament and an evidence of opulence, in like 
manner as other barbarians esteem gold. But they 
puncture their skins with pictured forms of every sort of 
animals ; on which account they wear no clothing, lest 
they should hide the figures on their bodies. They are 
a most warlike and sanguinary race, carrying only a small 
shield and a spear, and a sword girded to their naked 
bodies. Of a breast-plate or helmet they know not 
the use, esteeming them an impediment to their progress 
through the marshes.' 

A very old Welsh poem, ' Gorchan Cynfelin,' says, 
in regard to Druid sacrifices : ' When I was devoted to 

' Ccesar. Op. cit. lib. v. cap. 15, 16. 



the sacrificial flames, they ransomed me with gold, iron, 
and steeV. 

The Britons made swords and other weapons of iron ; 
their chariot-wheels were shod with iron, and these wheels 
are, perhaps, the most characteristic memorials of this 
ancient race. Their remains have been discovered not 
only in France, but in many English barrows, with 
iron snaffles for horses' bridles. York Museum contains 
a good specimen of both. The impressions upon the 
coins of Cunobelin and others testify that they were pro- 
ficients in the construction of carriages and wheels. 

Archaeological researches, so far as they refer to the 
subject of horse-shoes, have been much less successful in 
this country than in France. From what we have just 
noticed of the dexterity of these Celtic horsemen and 
charioteers, and of the manner in which they used the 
horse, it is scarcely possible to believe that the hoofs of 
that animal could have been unshod. The daily practice 
of their warlike manoeuvres, particularly in our climate, 
must have entailed an amount of strain and wear upon 
the feet which they could not have withstood, unless pro- 
tected in some substantial manner ; and as the art of shoe- 
ing with iron plates and nails was, as there appears to be 
abundance of archaeological evidence to prove, practised 
by the same race in Gaul at this period, it can hardly be 
doubted that such was also the case in Britain. The 
discoveries of iron shoes, however, have here been com- 
paratively few and. far between, though for what reason it 
would be difficult to say ; but perhaps the little attention 
given to such an apparently trifling matter may be the 


Sufficient evidence has been collected, however, to 
prove that shoes were in use at a very early age, and if not 
before the Roman invasion, at least during the Roman 
-occupation of Britain ; and that now about to be offered 
'will, it is anticipated, effectually dispose of the assertion 
made by Dr Pegge, Sir F. Meyrick, Bracy Clark, Youatt, 
and many other writers, that the art of shoeing was first 
introduced into England by the Normans. It may also 
tend to correct the equally erroneous opinion enunciated 
by some of these and other authorities, to the effect that 
the Goths and Vandals who overthrew the Roman empire 
were the first to make this practice of arming the hoofs 
known to the western world. The Goths and Vandals at 
any rate did not reach Britain, and although the proofs 
that shoeing was known before their arrival in Italy and 
Gaul are strong enough, the testimony is still more 
decisive as to the employment of iron hoof-plates in this 
country at an earlier period than that invasion. Neither 
have any Tartar hordes ever crossed the sea to deposit 
the shoes of their steeds in our soil, as on the continent of 

Some good specimens of the pattern we have referred 
to as being Celtic and Gallo-Celtic, have been found in 
situations and under circumstances which lead us to the 
conclusion that they also belong to that epoch, and were 
manufactured by kindred hands. 

Sir Richard C. Hoare found the halves of two horse- 
shoes in a British barrow," but as they are not described 

' History of Ancient Wiltshire, London, 1812 — 21. Fosbroke is 
the authority for this statement. I have carefully looked through 
Hoare's splendid work, but can find no mention of these articles ; 


or figured, so far as I am aware, nothing can be said as 
to their characteristics. This authority was of opinion, 
however, that few, if any, interments in barrows took 
place after the Roman invasion in Britain ; so that these 
articles must liave been in use before or soon after that 
event. He also discovered an urn in a barrow, with an 
ornament on the rim in relief like the shape of a horse- 

The able veterinary surgeon, Bracy Clark, in 1832, 
described what he termed ' two ancient horse-shoes,' 
found near Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. This hill, which is 
situated on the road from London to Bath, is nothing 
more than a mound of large size, and is believed to be 
of great antiquity ; by some it has even been supposed to 
be the appendage of a Druidical temple, it being placed 
exactly due south, and possessing other characters of a 
similar kind. It is to be much regretted that no me- 
thodical and careful examination has yet been made of 
this tumulus, for at various times objects of great age 
and antiquarian value have been obtained from it. An 
opening was made in it in 1723, when a human skeleton, 
the antlers of a deer, a knife with a horn handle, and a 
horse's iron bit were found. Stukely thought the hill 
was the grave of a great king, and that these were his 
remains. 'In the month of March, 1723, Mr Holford 
ordered some trees to be planted on this hill, in the 
middle of the area at the top, which is 60 cubits (103 feet 
9 inches) in diameter. The workmen dug up the body 

neither is any notice of them to be found in his Guide to the Wiltshire 

' Ibid., p. 121. 



of the great king there buried in the centre, very little 
below the surface ; the bones were extremely rotten, so 
that they crumbled them in pieces with their fingers. 
The soil was altogether chalk, dug from the side of the 
hill below, of which the whole barrow is made. Six 
weeks after, I came to rescue a curiosity which they took 
up there, an iron chain, as they called it, which I bought 
of John Fowler, one of the workmen : it was the bridle 
buried with the monarch, being only a solid body of rust. 
I immersed it in a limner's drying cloth, and dried it 
carefully, keeping it ever since very dry. It is now as 
fair and entire as when the workmen took it up. There 
were deer's horns, an iron knife with a bone handle, too, 
all excessively rotten, taken up along with it.' ' Bracy 
Clark described the bit in his 'Treatise on Bits.' 

Hoare asserts that the majority of the Wiltshire bar- 
rows, of which this Silbury Hill was undoubtedly one, 
were the sepulchral memorials of the Celtic and first 
colonists of Britain ; and some may be ascribed to the 
subsequent colony of Belgae who invaded the island. 
Roberts^ plainly indicates that this immense cairn must 
have been erected before the arrival of the Romans; for 
the Roman road which traverses this county, and which 
passes in a tolerably direct line, when it reaches the mound 
turns out of its course to avoid it, and in doing so cuts 
through a large barrow in its vicinity, part of which is 
yet standing between the avenue and the hill. It was in 
the vicinity of this mound that these shoes were met with. 

' Gough. Camden's Britannia. 
^ Pop. Antiquities of Wales. 



fig. 80 

The person who presented them to Mr Clark, says of the 

first shoe (fig. 80) that it was found upon the down on 

the opposite side of the road, 

at the distance of nearly half-a- 

mile from the place where the 

other shoe was found, under a 

heap of flints. These flints, it is 

probable, were taken at some 

former period from the above 

spot, and w^ere deposited upon 

the down, probably for mending 

the roads ; for, from the perfect accordance and similarity 

of both these shoes, in their peculiar make and fashion, says 

Bracy Clark, and from other circumstances, there can be no 

reasonable doubt of their having been constructed at the 

same period, and in all probability belonged to the same 

animal, the one being a hind, and the other a fore shoe, 

and of nearly the same size. They had also perfectly 

similar nails. Being looked upon by the labourers who 

removed the flints as mere old iron, they were passed 

unnoticed by them, as they sometimes found in these 

localities Roman and other coins 

of some value. 

Of the second shoe (fig. 81), 
he says it was found ' by the 
levelling of a bank, in Silbury 
Hill mead, for the purpose of 
watering it. The soil removed 
on this occasion was principally 
chalk, to the depth of a foot or sg. si 

16 * 


two.' No mention is made of bones of horses, or other 
articles, being found with it, but the skeleton of a man was 
found at some little distance. 

Mr Clark, who was somewhat of an enthusiast in the 
matter of shoes and shoeing, and appears to have lost no 
opportunity of examining old specimens, though he pre- 
viously believed that this art was only introduced into 
Britain by the Normans, confesses these Silbury shoes to 
have been the oldest he ever saw or heard of, and appears 
to have been rather puzzled by them. In all likeli- 
hood, as he remarks, the animal to which they belonged 
had been buried with them, since the nails were present 
in them, as in many of the Gallic specimens, with the 
clenches quite perfect and in their flexed state, which 
would not have been possible had the shoe been torn off 
while the horse was alive. This veterinarian acknowledges 
the shoes as truly exhibiting an early period in the history 
of the art. ' Their mould or general form is neither 
broad nor heavy, as in the oldest French shoes we have 
ever seen, but they are rather what would be called a light 
shoe. In their upper surface (foot surface), flat, a little 
concaved, however, inwards, and at the inflections per- 
fectly flat. The under surface of the shoe is rounded a 
little and convex, or rising in the middle, having in each 
of the quarters three immense deep oval or oblong stam|> 
holes or countersinks, as mechanics would call them, not 
very near to the outer rim of the shoe, and perforated 
through in the middle of these cavities, with three large, 
almost square, perforations ; the size of these, which time 
and oxydation may perhaps have a little enlarged, gave 
abundant opportunity for the early artisan to direct his 


nail as much obliquely outwards as he wished, which a 
more confined aperture, or greater thickness of metal, 
would not have allowed him so readily to do. Now these 
stamp-pits must have been done with a very rough, clumsy 
tool, for the rim or outer margin of the shoe has been 
terribly disturbed by it, and thrown out into bulges of a 
surprising size, disfiguring the shoe very much, and also 
endangering the horse's legs. The heels of the shoes are 
provided with very prominent calkins, made by doubling 
or turning over the iron, and lapping and welding it ; 
finding, no doubt, the great advantages which attended 
this plan. The wearing line of the shoe at the toe in No. i 
(fig. 80) was considerably worn away, but in No. 2 (fig. 81) 
hardly so much. These shoes, generally speaking, are 
thickest forwards, and go declining in thickness till reach- 
ing the calkins. Their insides are thicker than the outside. 
The nail-heads are very remarkable for their size, and pro- 
jecting high from the shoes ; and that part of the head 
next the aperture in the shoe is formed with a very abrupt 
broad shoulder, and nearly straight, but a little inclining, 
however, towards the shank. The sides of the head of 
the nail are nearly straight and perpendicular, forming an 
obtuse angle to the former line ; upwards it passes by 
another converging line towards the summit, or top of 
the nail, which is made flat, and is of the length of about 
a quarter of an inch, for receiving the blows of the ham- 
mer ; the head itself stands beyond the shoe, and if em- 
braced by the finger is flat, and shows a thickness of only 
about, or perhaps less than, the eighth of an inch. The 
shank of the nail is short, compared with modern nails, 
and is square, tapering all the way to the point, but is 


made rather flatter and broader on one side, viz., that 
side which corresponds to the flatness of the head.' 

The nails were not pointed, as now-a-days ; and appear 
to have been driven only a short distance in the hoof, and 
the end that had passed through was bent round and lay 
close to the side of the foot for safety. The sharp point 
was not wrung off', as is now the custom, but passing along 
the face of the hoof, was turned round like a carpenter's 
nail, and probably buried slightly in the crust, to give it 
a hold. ' The excellent preservation in which these shoes 
are found can only be accounted for by their having been 
for a long time defended, perhaps, by the hoofs to which 
they were attached, and secondarily, from their being de- 
posited among flints and chalk, the most indestructible 
and undecomposable materials of all the earthy sub- 

These relics are certainly extremely crude attempts in 
workmanship, and betray a very primitive period— the 
very infancy of the art, — more so, indeed, than any 
specimens that have yet been met with. Some time after 
they were discovered, the late Dean of Hereford obtained 
a horse-shoe similar in form, which had been found with 
others, and a skeleton, a short distance north-west of Sil- 
bury Hill. This was figured in the Transactions of the 
Salisbury Institute. 

Two specimens of similar construction, and which 
were found at Beckhampton, are now in the Museum at 
Cirencester, Gloucestershire. One of them (fig. 82) is 
much more primitive-looking than the other, and is of 
smaller size, agreeing very closely in this respect with 
those described and figured by Bracv Clark. The rolled- 



over calkins are particularly conspicuous. The other (fig. 
83) is of larger size and more circular in shape, and shows 

fig. 82 

fig. 83 

a nail-head worn down to the surface of the shoe. Beck- 
hampton, we must remember, is near the Druidical circle 
or temple of Abury, the western avenue of that structure 
extending towards this village ; and that the stupendous 
mound of Silbury is within the plan of Abury, and may 
have been a component part of the temple. It is some- 
what remarkable that this portion of Wiltshire, so famous 
for its ancient British monuments, should furnish such a 
number of these primitive horse-shoes. 

Three-fourths of a shoe, in excellent preservation, and 
evidently of the same period, was found at Springhead, 
near Gravesend, Kent, some years ago, and is now in the 
possession of Mr Sylvester of that place. It was found 
imbedded in compact chalk, and, from its appearance, 
has been scarcely worn ; it had broken through at one 
of the nail-holes soon after being fastened on the hoof 
From the situation of this relic, and the accompanying 
remains, there can scarcely be a doubt as to its belonging 
to the, or even pre-Roman, period. Its length 



is 4I inches; width, 3? inches; breadth at toe, fths 
of an inch ; and at heel, i- inch. The plate is thin ; at the 
toe, where it is strongest, it is scarcely ^th inch. The 
iron is of excellent quality ; and the calkin, which is 
formed by doubling over the end of the branch, projects 
about ith inch above the ground surface of the shoe (fig. 
84). The nail-holes, three of which are yet intact, have 
been three on each side, and 
of the usual form. A small 
lump of rust indicates the 
remains of a nail-head filling 
up the middle hole of one 
branch. The border of the 
shoe, particularly the ex- 
ternal one, is markedly un- 
dulating, owing to the large 
size of the cavity made to contain a portion of the nail- 
head. This cavity is fths of an inch long, and |ths 
wide ; and the hole for the reception of the nail-shank 
is nearly circular, and has a diameter of tth inch : cer- 
tainly the nails must have been very thick for the small 
hoofs shoes of this kind would fit. The weight of this 
excellent specimen is 3 ounces 7 drachms; so that the 
entire shoe may be calculated to have weighed about 5 
ounces. There are no retaining clips, and the ground 
and hoof surfaces are flat and rough, as if carelessly and 
scantily hammered. Springhead, where this antique 
scrap was found, stands near the Roman Watling Street ; 
and from the soil in its vicinity, which is chalky, great 
numbers of coins — many fibula?, some fictilia, etc. — 
belonging to various periods in the early history of our 

fig. 84 



country, but particularly the Roman, have been picked 
up during a number of years. The coins are chiefly 
brasses, some of them very old. Only one gold coin has 
been discovered — that of the Roman Emperor Valentine. 
The three, specimens next exhibited (figs. 85, 86, 87) 

fig- 8s 

fig. 86 

fig. 87 

are from the York Museum, and were found a few years 
ago under a cobble-road, near the bridge which crosses 
the foss of that city, at a depth of eight feet below the 
surface. A number of these shoes were discovered in 
this situation ; and it has been conjectured by some one 


that very long ago there may have been a ford at this 
place, and that these articles were then lost in the clay 
by horses in crossing. They are evidently Celtic, or 
Romano-Celtic, if we compare them with those from the 
graves in Gaul. Of the three represented, figure 86 is 
apparently the oldest ; next, figure 85 ; and lastly, figure 
87. All have been worn ; all have the irregularly un- 
dulating border, the peculiar groove, nail-holes, and cal- 
kins, and the characteristic nail-heads. Figure 85 is 
a comparatively large shoe, and figure 87 a small one. 
They are very thin, and do not exceed ^th of an inch in 
thickness. The nails in 85 and 86 have the points turned 
in a similar manner to those of Silbury Hill ; and figure 
87 alone appears to have been wrenched ofif while the 
horse that wore it was alive. The stalks or bodies of the 
nails are shorter and more square than we now use them, 
and the heads are of the semicircular T pattern. The 
calkins stand about ^th of an inch higher than the shoe.' 

It may be observed, that in the same museum are the 
remains of a chariot, and the bones of a man, horse, and 
pig, which were collected in a barrow not far from York ; 
but I cannot ascertain that any shoes were found. With 
specimens of Romano-Celtic shoes — -that is, of shoes of 
this pattern found associated with Roman remains — we 
are more liberally furnished ; for it must be confessed 
that those which we might at a hazard term ' pre-Roman ' 
are extremely scarce. 

At Colney, in Norfolk, were discovered Roman urns, 

' I am indebted to A. J. Owles, Esq., Enniskilliiig Dragoons, for 
photographs of these fine specimens. 



iron spear-heads, and ' a horse-shoe of unusual shape ' — ■ 
round and broad in front, narrowing- very much back- 
wards, and having its extreme ends brought ahiiost close 
behind, and rather pointed inwards, with the nail-holes 
still perfect.' ' No drawing accompanies this description. 
In making a deep excavation at Lothbury, London, in 
1 847, at a depth of 16 feet below the surface, the workmen 
came upon a number of Roman reliquiir, consisting of 
iron keys, Samien and other pottery, and various other 
articles, amongst which was an iron horse-shoe (fig. 88). 
It is of the usual fashion of 
that epoch, is only three inches 
six-eighths long, three inches 
five-eighths wide, and about 
three-quarters of an inch at 
the broadest part of the toe. 
It narrows very much towards 
the heels, and there are but 
faint traces of calkins. The 

1 1 • T 1 1 fig. 88 

one branch is a little longer 

than the other, and altogether the specimen is thin and 
light. The peculiar shape of this horse-shoe, the depth 
at which it was discovered, and its being mingled with 
undoubted Roman remains, proves that it must be of 
high antiquity, pointing to the Roman-British period as 
the age of its fabrication.^ 

Another shoe of the same character was found in 
Moorfields, in the line of the old London Wall, some 

' Archaeologie, vol. xiv. p. 4. 
Journal of the Archaeological Association, vol. vi. 



y' — -'"^ — ^ 

fig. 89 

years ago. It is about 4^ inches long, has the six oval 
cavities, and calkins rolled-over and welded (fig. 89). 

In the British Museum 
there is also a specimen, pro- 
cured while making a sewer in 
1833, in Fenchurch Street, 
London. Fragments of Ro- 
man pottery, boars teeth, and 
other articles, were found with 
it. It is thin and light, has 
the nail-holes of the characteristic number and shape ; 
narrows a little towards the heels, where there are calkins, 
and shows marks of wear. It measures four and three- 
eighths inches long, and four inches wide. It is narrower 
across the toe than several of the others examined, and 
resembles somewhat the third York specimen (fig. 90). 

In August, 1854, there was 
discovered at Gloucester, at the 
depth of some nine or ten feet 
from the surface, and mingled 
with numerous fragments of 
Roman Jictilia, the outer half of 
a strong iron horse-shoe, with 
one of the large fiat-headed 
nails already described remaining 
in one of the three holes. It is 
exactly similar, in size and make, to the last- mentioned 

Another shoe precisely like it, but of rather larger 
dimensions, was met with beneath a Roman road at Inne- 

fig. 90 


ravon, Linlithgowshire, Scotland, when the old pavement 
was being removed to prepare the ground for macadam- 
izing. This shoe is in the possession of the Society of 
Antiquaries of Scotland.' 

Gloucestershire, indeed, has long been famous for the 
Roman and other ancient remains discovered in it from 
time to time. The town of Gloucester boasts of a high 
antiquity, it being the Caer Glowe or Glev of the Celts, 
the termination -urn being afterwards added, euphonue 
gratia, to form the Glevum, the name by which the 
Romans designated this large colonial city ; subsequently 
it was the Gleow-ceaster of the Saxons. Its importance 
to the ancient Britons and Romans may have been owing 
not only to its situation on the banks of the Severn, but 
also to its proximity to the great iron district of the 
Forest of Dean. It is not to be wondered at, then, that 
some of the finest specimens of farriery I have been able 
to inspect should be discovered in this county. Some 
years ago, when laying down sewers in the town of 
Gloucester, many relics of antiquity were disinterred in 
the excavations. In Northgate Street, at a depth of eight 
or ten feet below the present level, which is also the usual 
depth at which all other Roman remains, such as tesselated 
pavements and the like, are found, and some seven or 
eight inches below the pitched Roman road {via strata), 
were found a number of horse-shoes and other articles of 
the Roman period. Two of the shoes I have had the 
opportunity of inspecting, and they correspond in every 
particular with those already described as belonging to 

' Journal of the Archaeological Association, vol. xiv. 


this period. One of them (fig. 91) is the most perfect 

specimen I ever saw, 
and is so little affected 
by its long sojourn un- 
derground, that but for 
the fact of its having 
been found with fibulas, 
a lamp [lucerna), and 
other characteristic 
memorials of the Ro- 
man ^era, together with 
its peculiar form, one 
would be perfectly- 
justified in asserting 
it had quite recently 
^^' ^' come from the anvil 

of the blacksmith. It has nev^r been worn, a circumstance 
to which its high preservation is partly due ; the edges 
are ^perfectly clean and sharp, and every stage in its 
manufacture can be readily traced, as there is not the 
smallest speck of rust upon it. The iron of which it is 
composed is of the very purest description, and so white 
and ductile, that it was at first conjectured to be silver. 
This, however, has been ascertained to be owing to 
the presence of a somewhat large proportion of 
nickel,' which has most largely contributed to the ex- 
emption from oxidation. I am informed that iron of 
this character, with much nickel in it, is found on the 
surface of the ground in Wilts. The outside of the shoe 

' An analytical chemist who examined it, informed me that it was 
the rarer metal titanium. 


is black, as all iron work is when just from the hammer. 
The specimen weighs only 4^ ounces, and is 4^ inches 
long, and 33 inches wide. The calkins are rolled-over in 
the usual way ; the immense oval depressions for the nail- 
heads are stamped nearly through the substance of the shoe, 
and have been made by a blunt tool when the iron was 
very hot. There is nothing to indicate that the shoe had 
ever been placed on the bick or beak-horn of an anvil to 
give it its shape. The round holes pierced for the passage 
of the nails appear to have been punched through when 
the iron was in a cold state, as the round holes in the 
horse-shoes are made at the present day in Syria, Turkey, 
and the East generally. These apertures are only six in 
number, and there is no indication of attempts at raising 
a toe-clip. Both surfaces of the shoe are plane, and the 
workmanship is not of a very high order, but appears to 
have been executed in a hurried manner. 

The other shoe I examined had been found a short 
distance from it. It is very perfect, though slightly worn 
(it had been on the left fore foot), is precisely similar in 
figure, size, and other particulars, and is made of excellent 
iron. Accompanying these two shoes was a most in- 
teresting specimen ' found on the surface of the ground, 
on a high hill, one of the Cotswolds, which has been 
recently ploughed up by permission of the owner, who 
on that occasion discovered this shoe. The hill is in the 
parish of Haresfield, and is known as Broadborough 
Green, or Ringhill ; and the spot where it was found is 

' I am deeply indebted to J. D. T. Niblett, Esq., M.A., F.S.A., of 
Tutfley, near Gloucester, for an inspection, and the particulars connected 
with the discovery of these three specimens. 


by the side of the ancient trackway, leading through the 
British to the Roman camp, the remains of which are 
still discernible. Being so near the surface of the soil, 
which is there very thin, and overlying the rock, the 
iron is very much corroded, but the form of the shoe, 
which is identical with the other two, is perfect. It is 
narrower, longer, and heavier than the two specimens 
just described, and the three nail-heads of one side are yet 
in the shoe. They project nearly as high as the calkins, 
and are of the shape always observed with these shoes. 
Its small size, and staple-like form, caused it to be desig- 
nated a ' mule shoe.' 

A very interesting discovery of a Roman villa has 
been recently made at Chedworth, a place on the great 
Foss Road, sixteen miles from Gloucester. With a very 
fine tesselated pavement, have been found a great number 
of articles, such as a silver spoon ; two silver coins, on 
the obverse of which are the words ' Imperator Caesar 
Antoninus Augustus ;' a coin of Heliogabalus, and another 
of Valens ; bronze fibulae ; rings ; implements ; bone 
hair-pins ; bronze coins of Constantia, Constantinus, Urbs 
Roma, &c. ; nails, armlets, twisted chains with swivels ; 
styles, and steelyards with lead weights ; iron implements, 
knives, chisels, spear-heads, crooks to suspend a kettle, 
and three pigs of iron. The presence of the latter articles 
would tend to show that they had been manufactured on 
the spot. There were also various kinds of pottery ; 
bones of the horse, ox, sheep, and pig, and antlers of a 
large herd of deer, as well as two fragments of human 
skulls. There are proofs that the villa has been destroyed 
by fire, and 275 coins, mostly Roman, fix the date; no 


Saxon coins have been discovered, and Mr Roach Smith 
informs me that the relics are entirely Roman. It would 
appear, from various evidences, that the villa had been 
built or repaired after the time of Constantine the Great, 
and an inscription 'Prasatia' leads to the surmise that it 
belonged to the husband of Boadicea. 

But the most important feature in this discovery is 
connected with our present subject : the recovery of one 
whole shoe and several fragments, which are said to have 
been with the other remains. But not one of these shows 
the outline we have hitherto been studying, and which 
has, with a few exceptions, so far as I have been able 
to learn, been characteristic of the shoes found with 
Roman or supposed pre-Roman objects. On the con- 
trary, all exhibit what we would consider evidences of 
more recent manufacture. We no longer have the un- 
dulating border, the long and wide oval depressions, the 
narrow cover, the rolled calkins, and the large semicircular 
nail-heads. The nails and nail-holes are very like those 
now in use ; the latter are stamped close to the margin 
of the shoe, the nails have been driven through the hoof, 
and the points twisted off and clinched in the usual way. 
The workmanship is entirely different to that we have been 
considering, and is much more advanced. One perfect 
specimen (fig. 92) measures 3! inches long and 4 inches 
wide, an imperfect one (fig. 93) 4! inches long and the 
same in width, while another half-shoe (fig. 94) is 4| 
inches long, and must have been equally wide. The 
breadth of it is extraordinary, measuring no less than if 
inch, and the shoe when complete must have nearly 
covered the whole of the horse's sole ; it shows four nail- 


holes, two of which are occupied by the re,Tiains of nails. 

The only peculiarity I can discern between this and the 
shoes of a much later age, is the curious attempt at a 
calkin, which is here formed by the iron having been 
drawn to a point and bent forward on the ground face of 
the shoe. This specimen is extremely clumsy and heavy, 
and quite unlike the light, and we might almost say 
elegant, shoe hitherto found. 

Figures 95 and 96 are similar to 92. 

It is impossible to account for the presence of these 
unusual specimens with Roman remains. Mr Roach 


Smith informs me that the discov^ery of the villa was, of 
course, accidental, and the excavations were not carefully- 
conducted by any one likely to note the position of the 
articles found. If such be the fact, there is a probability 
that these shoes may have belonged to a much later date 
than the other relics discovered, and which they in all 
likelihood overlaid. 

It is necessary to mention, however, that at Cirences- 
ter (the Roman Corinium, the Corimon of Ptolemy, and 
the Duro-Cornovium of the Antonine itinerary) various 
important Roman remains have been found, such as altars, 
querns, coins of all dates, from Claudius (a.d. 42) to 
Valentinian (a.d. 424), Samian and common pottery, 
bronze fibute, articles of bone, ivory, and glass, and great 
numbers of iron nails. Many of the latter have the 
peculiar head of the Roman horse-shoe nail, and others 
have the modern head fitted for the stamped and fullered 

In the museum of this town are several shoes, two or 
three of which closely resemble those found at Ched- 
worth, but none of the undulating-border type. These 
are said to have been found with the Roman remains, 
but there appears to hang some doubts as to the truth of 

The ruins of Pevensey Castle, in Sussex, furnishes us 
with another example of the early type. This castle, one 
of the most remarkable in the country, has been garrisoned 
and fortified by the Romans, Saxons, and Normans — the 

' In the Catalogue of the Museum, it is stated that 'some of the 
iron objects are not Roman, but mediaeval, and to one or two a still 
more recent date must be assigned.' 



ruins of each occupier telling such a tale of ' mutability ' 
as one spot has seldom told ; but, as is nearly always the 
case, the Roman has left his mark indelibly fixed on those 
walls and towers that at one time stood proudly above the 
low shore, when the sea almost washed their base. The 
Roman Castrum has an area of seven acres, but the 
irregular form of the walls would indicate that here was a 
British stronghold before the arrival of the Romans. The 
shoe found within these ruins, and which is now in the 
museum of Lewes Castle, Sussex, is larger than the speci- 
mens we have yet examined, being 4^ mches long and /\.^ 
wide. It does not appear to have been much worn, and 
yet its thickness does not exceed \ of an inch ; it has no 
calkins, and both surfaces are flat. The border is un- 
dulating, and the nail-cavities and holes are like those of 
the Gloucester shoes. The workmanship is good, and 
the nail-holes, six in number, well placed (fig. 97). 

A horse-shoe has been dis- 
covered within the interest- 
ing Roman encampment on 
Hod Hill, Dorsetshire. This 
camp appears to have been a 
Celtic fastness made subserv- 
ient to the Roman system of 
castrametation, and was made 
a great military post by the Romans. In it weapons, 
implements, and personal ornaments have been found in 
considerable numbers, all manifesting an extraordinary 
predominance of iron over bronze. One of the iron manu- 
factories or smelting-places was discovered near this camp, 
and from evidences attending the discovery, it was estab- 

fig- 97 


lished probably as early as the reign of Claudius. From 
the coins found in this camp, and which range from an- 
cient British, through Augustus, Agrippa, Tiberius, Ger- 
manicus, Nero and Drusus, Caligula and Claudius, up to 
Trajan, as well as from other testimony, Mr R. Smith is 
led to assert, that not the ' slightest evidence has been 
afforded of the tenure of the camp at any period after the 
Roman occupation of Britain.'' In iron, there have been 
discovered numerous varieties of spear-heads, arrow-heads, 
swords, the cheek-piece of a helmet, knives, agricultural 
implements in great variety, bridle-bits, chains, and keys. 
To the courtesy of Mr Durden, of Blandford, who 
possesses this, and very many of the other Roman anti- 
quities found in the castra, I am indebted for an in- 
spection of the interesting shoe (fig. 98). That gentleman 
writes to me as follows : ' It 
was found within the Roman 
castra on Hod Hill, about 
three miles from Blandford, 
associated with many do- 
mestic articles of Roman 
manufacture. The coins 
hitherto found there belong 
to the first century, and it 
is presumed the shoe be- 
longs to the same period.' Less primitive-looking than 
some of our other specimens, especially those from Spring- 
head and Silbury Hill, it yet belongs to the same type. 
Its width is 3I inches, length 4^-inches, and its breadth is a 

- Collectanea Antiqua, vol. vi. p. 10. 


little more than that of the Springhead example. Though 
much oxidized, it yet retains the undulated border, and it 
is perforated by sevxn nail-holes of very large size, with 
the oblong socket to lodge the nail-head. Three of the 
holes are on each side, and one in the centre of the toe has 
doubtless been intended to act like the modern toe-clip, 
and prevent the shoe from being driven back. This fea- 
ture in these antique shoes is very rare, indeed this is the 
only instance in which I have been able to trace it. The 
aperture for the shank of the nail, instead of being nearly 
circular, as in the Springhead shoe, is quadrilateral, and of 
immense size, in proportion to the shoe (|ths long, by 
tVths wide). One of the nails yet remains in the shoe, 
but the head is much worn ; though sufficient is left to 
prove that it was of the flattened, high, and wide T pat- 
tern. The shank is almost square like a carpenter's nail, 
and fills the hole ; and at a distance of only J inch from the 
foot surface of the shoe it bends suddenly forward as if 
to form a clench on the outside of the hoof. The excess- 
ive thickness of the nail, and the very short hold it had 
of the hoof, are easily accounted for. The shoe has evi- 
dently been for the near (left) fore foot, and the inner 
branch towards the heel is narrower than the outer one; it 
shows faint traces of a calkin, but the outer heel has a well- 
defined calkin formed by doubling over the extremity, 
as in the other specimens of this period, though this has 
been more clumsily done than in some of those we have 
noticed. The foot-surface is slightly concave from the 
outer to the inner rim. 

In the large collection of undoubted Roman remains 
brought to light in this castra, are three spurs of antique 


shape, two of iron (iigs. 99, 100), and one of bronze (fig. 
loi). 'Had they been found unaccompanied by objects 

so exclusively Roman,' remarks Mr Roach Smith, 'they 
would, and with reason, have been called Norman or late 
Saxon.' These spurs are remarkable for their short neck 
or ' prick,' which is even less than the Anglo-Saxon 
specimens, and much more so than those of a later 
date. C. Caylus ' figures an ancient bronze spur with 
apertures at the ends of the branches to fasten it on, like 
those represented in this bronze relic from Hod Hill. 

At ShefFord, in Bedfordshire, what was called a hoof- 
pick was encountered with Roman relics : ' Of Roman 
relics no place in Bedfordshire has furnished the quantity 
or quality equal to Shefford. About four dozen Samian 
cups, dishes, and paterce of various shapes and patterns 
have been there discovered, and at Stanford Bury, in its im- 
mediate vicinity. Avast variety of other reliquiae were found 
with these ; some splendid articles in glass, a beautiful radi- 
ated amber-coloured vase, quite perfect; a splendid blue jug, 
or simpulum, of elegant form, and the sacred knife that 
accompanies the simpulum on the reverses of coins of 
Antoninus and other emperors, as emblems of the impe- 

' Recueil, vol. iii. plate 9. 


rial and pontifical dignity. A few yards from hence was 
dug up the bones of a horse, and the ashes of his rider, 
together with an iron implement, evidently formed to pick 
the horse's hoofs, and fasten his shoes. With these were 
found a small silver musical instrument, a denarius of 
Septimus Geta, representing him at the age of nine or ten 
years ; another also of Geta was found near, apparently 
two or three years older ; these coins were of fine work- 
manship and in beautiful condition." 

We may be allowed to entertain doubts as to the 
article named being a hoof-pick ; such an instrument 
would scarcely be necessary, if at all, with such narrow 
shoes, which had no concavity between them and the 
sole, as at a later period. 

At Uriconium or Viroconium, now Wroxeter, in 
Shropshire, and which was one of the largest and most im- 
portant Roman towns before its destruction in the middle 
of the fifth eentury, a fragment of a small horse-shoe has 
been gathered, but it is so oxidized and imperfect that 
none of its details can be made out. It is now in the 
Shrewsbury Museum. 

A horse-shoe, supposed to be Roman, has been found 
at the ancient Conderum, Northumberlandshire. There 
is a drawing given of it in the Archaeologia T^Lliana (vol. 
vi. p. 3), but no particulars as to its discovery or its 
dimensions. It resembles somewhat, if one can judge 
from the figure, those in the Cirencester Museum and at 
Chedworth, the cover of the shoe being wide, the borders 
even, and the foot-surface concave. 

In the Rolfe collection of the Liverpool Museum is a 
' Gentleman's Magazine, p. 518, 1848. 


shoe four inches long and the same in width, which 
evidently belongs to the era of undulating borders, small 
calkins, and nail-holes with deep sockets (fig. 102). Un- 
fortunately there is no his- 
tory attached to it. 

This is all the evidence, 
so far as I can discover, 
which we may bring for- 
ward in favour of shoeing 
being in vogue in Celtic, or 
pre-Roman, and Roman 
times in this country. The 
wide extent over whicli the 
remains of hoof-armature has been traced, the relics, in the 
majority of cases, accompanying them, and the singular 
uniformity in size and character of most of the specimens, 
can scarcely leave a doubt as to the fact of shoeing being 
known at that early stage in our national history. 

The ancient Britons were, to a large extent, driven 
out of England by the Anglo-Saxons, and either fled to 
the continent of Europe, where they gave their name to 
Brittany, or retired to Wales (a.d. 447) — the Britannia 
Secunda of the Romans — where, amid their inaccessible 
mountains, they defied their treacherous invaders, and 
for many centuries retained their peculiar customs and 
laws. The fact of the former may be inferred from the 
traces of the Cromlech, the sacrificing-stone, and the 
Druid-circle ; while from the latter, part of which may 
have existed long ages before, but were revised by Howel 
Dha, or the Good, on the banks of the Tav, in a.d. 911, 
we have written evidence to prove that this handicraft 


was not only known and practised, but that they who 
followed it were privileged individuals, holding somewhat 
high rank at Court, and treated as if their art was one of 
great value. 

That remarkable method of division or enumeration 
of the ancient Celtic nations, the trinal system, had 
divided Wales, between the years 843 and 876, into three 
dynasties, — North, South, and Powysland ; and it is in the 
code of laws applicable to each of these, that we discover 
the link in the chain of evidence required to bring our 
history into harmony with the relics just described. These 
laws altogether show a very advanced agrarian condition, 
and much beyond that of any other nation at this 
period. In the ' Dull O Gwynedd,' or Venedotian Code 
of North Wales, it is ordained that the judge of the 
court ' is to have from the chief groom his horse, complete 
from the Jirst nail to the last, and saddled, and brought 
to him when he rides.' Amongst the other privileges and 
duties of the groom of the rein, ' he is to have his land 
free, his horse in attendance, and his clothing like the 
rest ; his woollen clothing from the king, and his linen 
clothing from the queen.' He is ' to have the king's rain- 
caps in which he shall ride ; his old bridles, his old hose, 
his spurs, his brass-mounted saddles, and all his horse 
equipage. He is to officiate in the absence of the chief 
groom. He is to hold the king's stirrup when he mounts 
and when he alights, and lead his horse to the stable, 
and bring it to him on the following day. He is always 
to walk near the king, that he may serve him when 

necessary. He is to shoe the kings horse 

His protection is, from the time the smith of the Court 


shall begin to make four horse-shoes, ivith their comple- 
ment of nails, until he places them under the feet of 
the kings horse, to convey away an offender.' The duties 
of the smith were : — ' He is to make all the necessaries of 
the palace gratuitously, except three things : these are, 
the suspending irons of the rim of a caldron, the blade of a 
coulter, the socket of a fuel-axe, and head of a spear ; for 
each of these three things he is to be paid the value of 
his labour. He is to do what is wanted by the officers of 
the palace gratuitously ; they are to present him with 
clothes for each piece of work. He is entitled to the 
"ceinion."' His seat in the palace is on the end of the 
bench, near the priest of the household. His protection 
is, from the time he shall begin his work in the morning 
until he shall finish at night.' 

There were three arts which the son of a taeog (or 
villain) was not allowed to learn 'without the permission 
of his lord ; and if he should learn them, he must not 
exercise them, except a scholar, after he has taken holy 
orders : these are scholarship, smithcrcft, and bardism.' 

To show the value put upon the extremity of a horse's 
limb, it is enacted that ' the worth of a horse's foot is his 
full worth.' ^ 

' Four horse-shoes (P eclei/ r pedhol), mth their com- 
plement of nails, are two pence in value ;' a small sum, if 
the Welsh money bore a like value to that then current 
among the Anglo-Saxons, five of their pence making one 

' The cehiion was the first liquor that came into the hall. 
^ Book iii. chap. 4. We are reminded by this of the saying of 
Jeremiah Bridges, ' No Foot no Horse 5 ' or, as oirr French friends 
have it, ' Pas de Pied, pas de Che\ al.' 


Then follows a list and valuation of the appliances of 
a Celtic smith : — 

'The tools of a smith, six-score pence : 

The large anvil, three-score pence : 

The brick-orne anvil, twelve pence : 

The bellows, eight pence : 

The smith's pincers, four pence : 

The smith's sledge, four pence : 

A paring-knife (for the hoofs ?— Cammec-pedeyr 
Keynnyanc), four pence : 

A bore (or punch — Kethraul), four pence : 

A groover (Knysyll), four pence : 

A vice, four pence : 

A hoof-rasp (Carnllyf ), four pence.' 

This enumeration is curious, as we observe in the list 
several of the articles found in the Druidical mound at 
Alesia, in Gaul. 

The Dimetian, or ' South Wales Code,' is in some 
respects similar to that of the Venedotian. 'The pro- 
tection of the groom of the rein is, ivliilst the smith of 
the Court makes four shoes luith their complement of nails ^ 
and whilst he shall shoe the king's steed! "^ The protection 
of the groom of the rein to the queen was the same. 

The smith of the Court was to have the heads of the 
oxen and cows slaughtered in the palace, and food for 
himself and servant from the palace ; as well as the feet 
of all the cattle,^ and other privileges. The worth of his 
tools was also six-score pence. 

' Book i. chap. 7. 

^ The ancient Welsh used the legs of cow-hides for shoes. In the 
Venedotian Code, it is specified that the king's apparitor is to have ' the 


'Three arts which a taeog is not to teach to his son 
without the permission of his lord : scholarship, smithcraft, 
and bardism : for if the lord be passive until the tonsure 
be performed on the scholar ; or until the smith enter 
his smithy ; or until a bard be graduated in song, — he 
cannot afterwards enslave them,' proving that the smith 
was a freeman. 

The trinal, or tripartite, system was sometimes 
curiously applied : — ' There are three fires, kindled by a 
person on his own land, which are not cognizable in law : 
the fire of heath-burning, from the middle of March to 
the middle of April ; the fire of a hamlet kiln ; and the 
fire of a hamlet smithy, that shall be nine paces from the 
hamlet, and having either a covering of broom or of sod 

In these laws we find the smith and his craft, horse- 
shoes, and horses, remarkably mixed up in those triads 
that seem to be so strangely related to the symbolism of 
the ancient world: — the mystic number 3, the pyramid, 
triangle, the basis of the mysterious ogive ; the number 
that was considered holy at the first dawn of civilization, 
that is found wherever variety is develo])ed, and that 
meets us everywhere. The Welsh laws afford us a striking 
instance of the influence of this wonderful numeral. 
* Three things for which, if found on a road, no one is 
bound to answer (or be responsible for taking possession 
of) : a horse-shoe (pecloi), a needle, and a penny.' 'There 
are three one-footed animals : a horse, a hawk, and a 

legs of the oxen and kine obtained by his informalion, to make boots to 
the height of his ankles.' 
' Book ii. chap. 8. 


greyhound : whosoever shall break the leg of any one 
of them, let him pay his whole worth.' 

In the Gwentian Code, applicable to the district in- 
habited by the Silures, it is written: 'The protection of 
the groom of the rein is, to conduct the person wliile the 
smith of the Court makes four shoes, with their sets of nails, 
and shall shoe the kings steed! ' The groom of the rein 
has the king's daily saddle, his panel, his bridle, hjs spurs, 
his hose, and his rain-cap when discarded ; also his old 
horse-shoes {hen pedolen), and his shoeing-irons {Jieyrn 
pedoli)! ' In the triads of the ' Cyrethian ' we find : ' Three 
free sons of the bond: a clerk, a bard, and a smith. 
Three bond sons of the free : the sons of the above.' 
Of the king's hall it is ordered : ' The servants are appor- 
tioned in three parts, one third to the queen The 

smith (gof) of the Court is to sit in a chair before the 
judge (near a column), which column the silentiary is to 
strike, on the side furthest from the king, when com- 
manding silence.' In the ' Leges Wallice,' of about the 
same date, there is also another paragraph relating to our 
subject : ' Refugium gwastrant awyn (equisonis) est, con- 
ducere hominem tanto tempore quanto faber curie fliciet 
HIP'' ferra cum clauis, et cum eo ferret dextrarium 
regis.' ^ 

Oxen alone were used for the plough : ' Neither 
horses, mares, or cows, are to be put to the plough; and 
if they should be put, and abortion should ensue to either 
mares or cattle, or the horses be injured, it is not to be 
compensated.' ^ 

' Book i. chap. 6. " Book i. chap. vii. 

^ Veiicdolian Code. Book iii. chap. 24. 


These extracts from the ancient laws of Wales which 
may have been — and we have every reason to believe 
were — in existence centuries before the reign of Howel 
the Good, show in the most unmistakable manner that 
farriery was practised and held in high estimation by the 
primitive people of Britain, that the Court farrier was a 
sacred sort of personage, on whose shoulders the mystic 
mantle of the Druid iron-workers had fallen, and whose 
handicraft was not to be practised by every one. 

It is very strange that, in relation to this subject, these 
laws of Wales have never before been examined. 

Sir Walter Scott appears to have sanctioned the 
popular opinion, afterwards maintained by Sir P\ Meyrick, 
Bracy Clark, and other notabilities, that these ancient 
Britons, the Welsh, did not shoe their horses. In one of 
his miscellaneous poems, the ' Norman Horse-Shoe,' com- 
posed in 1806, he relates an engagement on the banks of 
the Rymny, between the Norman Lords-Marchers of 
Monmouthshire, Clare, Earl of Striguil and Pembroke, 
and Neville, Baron of Chepstow, and the Welshmen of 
Glamorgan. The piece is prefaced by the announce- 
ment, that the Welsh, inhabiting a mountainous country, 
and possessing only an inferior breed of horses, were 
usually unable to resist the shock of the Anglo-Norman 
cavalry. On this occasion they were successful, not- 
withstanding that the horses of the latter were shod : — 

' Red glows the forge in Striguil's bounds, 
And hammers din, and anvil sounds. 
And armourers, with iron toil. 
Barb many a steed for battle's broil. 
Foul fall the hand which bends the steel 
Around the courser's thundering heel. 


That e'er shall dint a sable wound 
On fair Glamorgan's velvet ground ! 

Old Chepstow's brides may curse the toil. 
That arm'd stout Clare for Cambrian broil ; 
Their orphans long the art may rue. 
For Neville's war-horse forged the shoe. 
No more the stamp of armed steed 
Shall dint Glamorgan's velvet mead ; ■ 
Nor trace be there, in early spring, 
Save of the Fairies' emerald ring.' 

After the evidence we have adduced, there is no 
reason to suppose that Glamorgan's velvet mead was not 
as likely to be dinted by the shoe-print of the Welsh 
horses after, as doubtless it had been long centuries 
before, this sanguinary skirmish ; or that Neville's horse's 
hoofs were any better prepared for marching and fighting 
than that of the British chief who defeated him. 

Besides all this, there are certain traditions afloat be- 
longing to an early period, concerning hoof-prints and 
marks of horse-shoes on stones, which, if incorrect, so far 
as an examination of these impressions proves them to be, 
yet point to the prevalence of shoeing at a very remote age. 
For instance, there is an old tradition that, in the west of 
England, not far from the Devil's Coit, St Colomb, and 
standing on the edge of the Gossmoor, there is a large 
stone, upon which are deeply-impressed marks, which a 
little fancy may convert into the imprints of four horse- 
shoes. This is ' King Arthur's Stone,' and these marks 
were made, so says tradition, by the horse upon which 
the ancient British king rode when he resided at Castle 
Denis, and hunted on these moors.' 

' Romances of the West of England. First Series, p. 204. 


Sir Walter Scott, in the 'Bridal of Triermain,' ' de- 
scribes an adventure of the same King, where he is 
tempted to drink from a goblet by Guendolen ; but when 

' Lifted the cup, in act to drink, 

A drop escaped the goblet's brink — 

Intense as Uquid fire from hell. 

Upon the charger's neck it fell. 

Screaming with agony and fright 

He bolted twenty feet upright — 

The peasant still can show the dint 

Where his hoofs lighted on the flint.' 

It is remarkable to find this tradition of hoof-prints in 
existence beyond England, and to note that it refers to 
nearly as early a date. On the black rocks of the Dame 
de Meuse, in the Ardennes, Belgium, is still shown the in- 
effaceable imprint left there by the horse on which Renaud 
was mounted. This valiant knight was the supposed con- 
temporary of Charlemagne ; his astounding deeds of 
prowess almost rival those of our own Arthur, and towards 
the termination of his career he became a chevalier mason, 
carrying on his back all the enormous blocks of stone re- 
quired to build the ' Sainte Eglise' at Cologne. 

My curiosity was considerably excited, when, in the 
course of recent researches, I found that a correspondent 
to * Notes and Queries,' had sent the following letter 
to that valuable periodical, in January, 1 864 : ' Can any 
of your readers inform me when horses were first shod 
with iron ? I have just had brought to me a stone about 
five inches over, on which is plainly impressed the mark 
of a pony's or mule's shoe. It was found near the scythe- 

' Canto ii. 10. 

2 74 


stone pits, on the Blackdown Hills, between Honiton and 

With some difficulty, I at length discovered the gen- 
tleman into whose hands this geological specimen had 
fallen, Mr Matthews, of Bradninch, near Cullompton, 
Devonshire, and on my applying to him for an inspection 
of it, he most kindly and promptly sent it to me. 

The resemblance of the impression to the form of a 
horse-shoe was undoubtedly most striking (iig. 103), and in 

fig. 103 
size it exactly corresponded to one of the Roman Glouces- 
ter shoes then in my possession. There were no bulgings, 
however, on the outer margin ; and yet it was so remark- 
ably like the shoe, and like the impression it would make 
on sand or clay, that any one at the first glance, and who 
was not a geologist, would have had no hesitation in 
affirming it to be due to that cause. But an examination 
of the stone effectually demolished such an opinion. It 
belonged to a kind called in technical language ' chert,' a 



sand-stone that underlies the clialk formation, and occurs 
in the lower green sand ; and the imprint had been formed 
long ages before horses or Druid blacksmiths had worn 
or made hoof-plates on the more recent and superficial 
strata of our present earth. 

Sir C. Lyell has given an opinion with regard to this 
curiosity. He says, ' Most of the horse-shoe impressions, 
of which I have seen a great many in the older stratified 
rocks of Scotland, have been thought to imply the former 
presence of medusae, but this is a mere conjecture, derived 
from finding similar impressions made on the sands on 
which such gelatinous bodies rest. They have nothing 
to do with the footprints of horses.' 

Professor Tennant, of the Strand, London, most ob- 
ligingly undertook to explain the nature of the horse-shoe 
imprint, and the mode of its formation. It was only 
necessary for him to fit into it a petrified zoophyte, whose 
base, like the bottom of a champagne bottle, had perhaps 
made scores of these ' Man Friday ' tracks, to settle the 
question. One of these creatures had settled itself upon 
the soft sand, when there was nobody present to note the 
circumstance ; the almost circular indent made by its cup- 
like basis had escaped obliteration, the sand became rock, 
— fine, close, and hard enough to sharpen a scythe-blade, 
and to render the Devonshire scythe-stone pits famous ; 
and long after subsequent races of creatures had passed 
away — even the Druids and aboriginal horses, the whilom 
resting-place of this half-animal, half-vegetable, had been 
revealed, and a chip knocked off one of its sides. So much 
for the traditions of hoof-prints. 


After the departure of the Romans from Britain, and 
the invasion of the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, we find 
history for a long period nothing but a tissue of traditions. 
We may believe that the Saxons occasionally, if not con- 
stantly, shod their horses ; but whether in the same 
fashioned 'shoe that the ancient Britons and Gauls used, is 
a matter for doubt. Mr Syer Cuming ' says he has seen 
a shoe very like in form that which Chifflet describes as 
found in Childeric's tomb, and which was said to have been 
discovered with Saxon weapons in Kent. It was of small 
size, very thin, and much oxidized. Elsewhere, at a later 
period, he remarks : ' The question regarding the employ- 
ment of horse-shoes by the Teutonic tribes of Britain has 
received some slight elucidation. I feel confident that the 
Anglo-Saxons shod their steeds, and that they called the 
metal shoe calc-rond, i. e. rim-shoe ; though Bosworth 
says the name signifies a round hoof; and my confidence 
is supported by the fact of the discovery of some horse- 
shoes in a Saxon burial-place in Berkshire. Mr T. Wills 
permits me to lay before you a horse-shoe, which there 
seems good reason to regard as of Saxon origin ; it is 
about three inches and seven-eighths long, exceedingly 
thin, agreeing in this respect with the previously-mentioned 
horse-shoe found with Saxon remains in Kent, and the 
iron of which it is composed is of that peculiar ropy kind, 
so characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon era. It is sharp at 
the extremities, has no calkins, and' the six large, square 
nail-holes are cut clean through the substance, and not 
counter-sunk to receive the nail-heads. This curious 
specimen was recovered from the northern side of the 

' Journal of the Archaeological Association, vol. vi. 


Thames, about midway between Dowgate and Blackfriars 
Bridge.' ' 

We may be allowed to entertain some doubts as to 
the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon term ' calc-rond,' espe- 
cially as applied to a ' rim-shoe ' for horses. The Saxon 
for shoe is ' sceo ' or ' ])Coh ; ' and the verb to shoe ' fceo- 
zan ; ' while the smith is written as in German, fmi^. 

It would appear certain that, as with the invasion of 
Gaul by the Franks, another form of shoe gradually 
came into use in England on the arrival of the Saxons. 
We have but little to lead us to believe that this German 
race cared much for the horse, or employed it to any ex- 
tent at first. In this respect they resembled the Frank?. 
In process of time, however, they became expert horse- 
men, and placed much value upon the noble beast ; in 
this they again followed the example of the Franks — a 
change that might be attributed, in both instances, to 
their having come into contact with another race — the 
Celtic, — to whom the horse had for ages been an all-im- 
portant adjunct of existence. This is rendered apparent 
from the fact, that those of the Britons who cared to 
remain among the invaders, were intrusted with the 
studs of the Anglo-Saxon kings. In the laws of Ina, writ- 
ten towards the termination of the seventh or commence- 
ment of the eighth century, the ' hors-wealh ' stands in 
high estimation. This functionary was a Welshman, or 
rather an ancient Briton, who had the charge of the king's 
stud, his knowledge of horses apparently justifying his 
being selected to attend to them, as the British inhabitants 
excelled in the care and management of these creatures, 

' Op. cit. vol. xiv. 


and were therefore preferred as keepers of the royal stables. 
The ' hors-weard,' or watchers of the lord's horses, are also 
specially mentioned in the laws of ^thelbirht and Ina 
(sixth and seventh centuries). The Anglo-Saxon laws, it 
must be remembered, are far behind those of the Britons, 
and leave us fewer details concerning the domestic life of 
the people. We will see hereafter that the smith and his 
craft occupied a somewhat important position with this 
people, though perhaps less than with the Britons. 

So late as the time of Bede (seventh century) we find 
it stated that the English only began to use saddle-horses 
(63 I ), when prelates and others rode on horseback, who 
till that time were wont to go on foot. But if, he adds, 
upon any urgent occasion they were obliged to ride, they 
used mares only. Fosbrooke thinks this notice refers to 
the heathen Anglo-Saxon priests, who were disgraced by 
being compelled to ride on mares. It is true that in 
several parts of the world it is reckoned an indignity to 
use a mare for this purpose — in South America, for exam- 
ple. And in Java it appears to be looked upon as a 
punishment, for Crawfurd ' mentions that, in the i6th 
century, a rebel chief was subdued by the Prince of 
Mataram, and the conqueror, v.'ithout offering him any 
further injury, directed a lame mare to be brought, on 
which, barebacked, and with a miserable bridle, he 
mounted his discomfited rival, and in this plight dismissed 
him to his chief, to tell the story of his disgrace. ' It is 
necessary to explain,' adds Mr Crawfurd, ' that in Java 
it is considered a disgrace to ride a mare ; none but the 
meanest of the people using mares for the saddle.' 

' Indian Archipelago, vol. ii. p. 324. 


The indignity of being compelled to ride mares did 
not continue very long with the English monks, who 
soon became owners of the best-conditioned horses in the 
land, and were as devoted slaves to hunting, and other 
amusements of a similar character, as any beyond the 
monastery doors. When the archdeacon of Richmond 
arrived at Bridlington, Yorkshire (in 12 16), to be in- 
ducted to the priory, he was accompanied by ninety-seven 
horses, twenty-one dogs, and three hacks. In 1256, 
Walter de Suffield, bishop of Norwich, bequeathed by 
will his pack of hounds to the king ; whilst the abbot of 
Tavistock, who had also a pack, was commanded by his 
bishop, in 1348, to break it up. William de Clowne, 
abbot of Leicester, who died in 1377, had so good a stud, 
and was so skilful in hare-hunting, that the king, his son 
Edward, and several noblemen, paid him an annual pen- 
sion that they might hunt with him. WyclifFe, who 
lived at this time, in his ' Trialogue,' inveighs against the 
priests for their ' fair horses, and jolly gay saddles and 
bridles ringing by the way.' And Chaucer does as much 
in his admirable delineation of the monk of his day : — 

' A monk there was, a fair for the mastery ; 
An out-rider that loved venerie (hunting) ; 
A manly man to be an abbot able. 
Full many a dainty horse had he in stable. 

Therefore he was a prickasour (hard rider) a right : 
Greyhounds he had as swift as foul (birds) of flight : 
Of pricking (hard riding), and of hunting for the hare 
Was all his lust ; for no cost would he care.' 

On the Continent, in 11 80, the third council of 
Lateran prohibited this amusement while bishops were 


journeying from one abbey to another, and restricted 
them to a train of forty or fifty horses ! ' 

But the Anglo-Saxons, even so early as the time of 
Bede,^ in their youth or ' childhood,' appear to have ex- 
celled in horse-racing. Hunting on horseback was a 
favourite pastime, and we are told how long the chases 
were, and how rugged the paths. ^ An ealdorman's'* heriot 
or claim to that title was the fact of his possessing four 
horses saddled and four not saddled, with arms and money ; 
while the king's thegn or baron must own a moiety of 
that number, and the middling thegn or knight, one- 

Horses must have been numerous and looked upon 
as an important acquisition, even by the Danish invaders ; 
for in the reign of Ethelred (866) these people made one 
of their incursions into England in numbers never before 
equalled, and were allowed by that monarch to locate 
themselves for the winter in East Anglia, So bold were 
they in their strength, that they levied demands upon the 
king ; and among the many items he was compelled to 
furnish was a supply of horses, which mounted the great- 
est part of their army.^ 

Horses also appear to have been very acceptable 
gifts. For, 926, we read that Hugues, the son of King 

* Felly. Hist, de France, vol. iii. p. 236. 
' Hist. Eccles., lib. v. cap. 6. 

3 Life of St Dunstan. Cotton MSS. Cleop. B. 13. 

■* The ' ealdorman,' or ' aldormanus/ was, among the Anglo-Saxons, 
originally a dignitary of the highest rank, hereditarily and otficially, and 
nearly synonymous with that of King. 

5 Leges Anglo-Saxonicae. 

* Asser. De Rebus Gestis ^Elfredi, p. 15. Edit. Oxford, 1772. 


Robert of France, presented Athelstan of England with 
three hundred fine coursers and their trappings, besides 
other valuables.' Athelstan enacted that 'no man shall 
send any horses over sea, but such as be presents.'^ 

In the reign of this monarch it is probable that horses 
were used for ploughing; for in one of his laws (16) it is 
ordained that ' every man have to the plough two well- 
horsed men.' From these laws we also learn, that a horse 
was valued at half a pound, ' if it be so good ; and if it be 
inferior, let it be paid for by the worth of its appearance, 
and not by that which the man values it at who owns it, 
unless he have evidence that it be as good as he says.' 

About this period, too, tournaments began to be 
popular among the Anglo-Saxons. In 934, Henry the 
First of Germany published his institutions concerning 
them, and certain classes and persons were forbidden to 
engage in them under penalty of losing their horses.^ 
Even previous to this period, Nithard mentions that some 
French gentlemen fought in play on horseback."* 

It has often been asserted that the Ang-lo-Saxons had 
no cavalry in the days of Harold, and that their defeat at 
the battle of Hastings was chiefly due to the absence of 
that arm from their force. This would appear, however, 
to be incorrect. At the decisive battle between that un- 
fortunate monarch and the Danish invader, Hardrada, at 
Stamford Bridge, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, only a 

' MSS. Cleop. B. ^. 

• 'Nemo equLiin aliquem ultra mare mittat nisi eum donare velit.' 
— Legis iEthelst. 

' Goldastus. Constitutiones Imperialis, vol. ii. p. 41. 
•* Turner. Hist. Anglo-Saxons, vol. iii. p. 130. 


few days before the appearance of the Normans and the 
battle of Hastings, the Anglo-Saxons were so strong in 
cavalry that the Danes, who were chiefly infantry, had to 
dispose themselves in a particular order of battle in order 
to repel the fierce attacks of these horsemen.' 

After the defeat of the Danes, Harold hurried back to 
London to meet the Normans, but through disgust at his 
behaviour, and perhaps owing to the long distance and 
the fatigue they had already undergone, his northern army 
appears to have been almost, if not entirely, dispersed. 
But even at the battle of Hastings, though the footmen 
formed the chief part of his army, there was a force of 
cavalry; this, however, was purposely dismounted and in- 
corporated with the other portion, owing to the position 
of the Anglo-Saxons on hilly ground. 

The weapons of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were 
purely Teutonic, and so far as the examples furnished by 
their graves afford evidence, it would appear they bor- 
rowed nothing from the Romans. In battle they fought 
as Saxons ; and it was only when they came into contact, 
socially, with the people who had preceded them, that they 
felt the superiority of the Romans in the arts of peace.^ 
They carried their manners and customs with them into 
England, as well as their peculiar arms and equipment, 
and with these also, perhaps, their own form of horse- 
shoe. Certain it is, that from the time of their achieving 
their supremacy in England, the characteristic bulging- 
bordered shoe of the earlier ages appears rapidly to have 
gone out of fashion. A specimen of the new kind of 

' See Snorre's Sagas. 
* JVtight. The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon, p. 415. 


fig- 104 

shoe, which was found in Fleet Ditch, in 1847, ^iH make 
this change manifest (fig. 104). This may have been of 
a later date than some of the 
other Saxon shoes, but it was 
in all probability in use before 
the Norman conquest. It was 
very small, thin, and without 
calkins. Mr Syer Cuming, 
alluding to this shoe and the 
alteration in its shape, lays 
some stress on the form as- 
sumed by the inner margin, which in the Celtic pattern, 
he says, is the figure of a Norman arch, and this Saxon 
shoe that of an arch of the 15 th century. The very 
ancient specimen in the British Museum, however, which 
was found with Roman remains, is narrow across the toe, 
and the third York Museum example is the same. 

In one of the Fairford graves opened by Mr Wylie,' 
and which apparently belonged to the Saxon period, a 
small, thin plate of iron Mike a miniature horse-shoe was 
found.' In the drawing given, however, there are no 
traces of nail-holes. 

At Caenby, near Lincoln, Mr Jarvis ^ reports, that in 
a tumulus opened by some workmen, there was found a 
skeleton, a sword-blade, horse-furniture, and a horse-shoe. 
This was supposed to have been a Saxon grave. No 
drawing or description is given of this shoe. 

Some years ago, a Saxon tomb was opened on 
Brighton Downs, and with some characteristic remains 

' Fairford Graves. Oxford, 1852. 
' Akerman. Remains of Paaan Snxondom. 



was found a horse-shoe, which fell into the hands of the 
late Mr Faussett. After that gentleman's death, his col- 
lection of antiquities passed to Mr Mayer, of Liverpool, 
who presented them to the Free Public Museum of that 
town. Unfortunately, of the dozen specimens of horse- 
shoes in that building there appears to be but little, if 
any, history to be obtained ; nearly all the specimens be- 
long to the Rolfe collection, and but one to that named 
the Faussett, and this, I presume, is that from the 
grave at Brighton. Mr Mayer appears, from the state- 
ment given to me by the sub-curator of the museum, to 
think it might be Roman, but the shoe is not of the usual 
Roman type. It has apparently eight nail-holes, is 5^^ 
inches long and 4^ wide, and the breadth of the branch is 
about i| inch (fig. 105). It may be added, that in the 

Rolfe collection there are 
two or three specimens of 
apparently the same age, 
and several of a later period. 
But these lose their value 
through having lost the 
history of their discovery. 

Two remarkably curious 
specimens of a similar kind 
to that from Fleet Ditch 
were discovered in 1854, at 
Horred Hill, parish of Gillingham, Kent, deeply imbedded 
in brick clay. In appearance they look even more primi- 
tive than that example, and one (fig. 106) would appear to 
have been made during the transition from the Roman to 

fig. 105 



the Saxon shape. It is of the same size as the Hod Hill 
shoe, but has more breadth 
of iron. The border is not 
undulated, aud the nail- 
holes, though large, are 
square ; there is no socket 
for the nail-head. One side, 
which has no calkin, has 
four nail-holes ; and the 
other side, which has a 
calkin formed exactly like 
the Roman and Gaulish specimens by doubling over the 
extremity of the branch, has only three. The iron appears 
to be remarkably good and fibrous, and much resem.bles 
that of the Saxon weapons made of that metal. The other 
shoe (fig. 107) is almost identically the same so far as re- 
gards size, but it is ap- 
parently of more recent 
date than the other, though 
still very primitive. It has 
two calkins raised at the 
extremities of the branches, 
and these, though very low 
and thin, are formed as in 
modern times. Wide at the 
toe and sides, it is very nar- 
row and light towards the heels, has four square nail-holes 
on one side, and three on the other. Both specimens are 
very light, slightly concave to the foot, and convex to the 
ground surface, and would fit a horse about thirteen or 

fig. 107 



fourteen hands high. From circumstances connected 
with their discovery, they were surmised to be at least a 
thousand years old. 

Some years ago there were found in a graveyard in 
Berkshire (already alluded to by Mr Cuming) three 
horse-shoes accompanied by purely Saxon remains. 

Drawings of these and their ac- 
companying relics are now in the 
possession of Mr C. Roach Smith, 
and to him I am indebted for per- 
mission to copy the former. It will 
be seen that one of the shoes (fig. 
1 08), the smallest (4 inches in 
length and width), is of the primitive type, and still retains 
a nail; while the other two (figs. 109, no) are com- 

fig. 109 

paratively large and heavy, one with calkins, the other 
without ; both have the even border, and but little to 
distinguish them from mediaeval horse-shoes. The occur- 
rence of these two varieties in the same place, along with 
unmistakable Saxon relics, testifies that they were both in 
use at this period, and reminds us of the Prankish speci- 


mens found in Belgium. Mr Roach Smith informs 
me that no particular account of the find reached 

We have evidence that, in the time of Harold, horses 
must have been generally shod for service in the field. 
Dart,' in his History of York, says that at Battle Flats, six 
miles east of that city, the scene of the conflict between 
Harold and the Danes under Tostig (a.d. 1066), 'the 
farmers in ploughing frequently turn up a very small sort 
of horse-shoes, which would only fit an ass or the least 
breed of northern horses ; ' and Camden,^ in speaking of 
the ancient village of Aldby, remarks : ' Aldby may have 
been a Roman before it was a Saxon villa. Stanford 
bridge has the name of Battle Bridge in writings after the 
Conquest, such as the instrument containing Oswis' trans- 
lation, but it now keeps its antient name, and has no 
memorial o-f the battle except a piece of ground on the 
left hand of the bridge called Battle Flats, in plowing 
which of late years they find pieces of swords, and a sort 
of small horse-shoes that could only fit an ass or the 
smallest breed of northern horses, but are proofs of the 
antiquity of shoeing in England.' 

It is much to be regretted that no description can be 
found of these articles. 

In the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts of an early date, we 
have additional proof that horses wore shoes. In the ac- 
companying illustration (fig. 1 1 1 , next page) of a riding 
Saint, copied from an illuminated manuscript (Tiberius C. 
6. fol. 1 1.) in the Harleian collection of the British Mu- 
seum, and belonging, it is surmised, to the iith century, 

' Eboracum, p. 84. ' Britanniaj vol. iii. p. 69. 


the horse is shod in the most unequivocal manner, each 
hoof exhibiting three nails. 

fig. Ill 

In another (Plut. 2,278), representing a group of 
Anglo-Saxon equestrians, all the horses are represented as 
shod, the shoes having calkins, and retained on the hoofs 
apparently by four nails on each side. 

In the Cottonian collection is another manuscript 
(Nero C. 4), with a series of illustrations of the life of our 
Saviour, in which is a royal cavalcade, whose horses' feet 
are all protected with shoes ; and also a picture of the flight 
into Egypt (fol. 7), where the mule or ass has its hoofs 
yet more distinctly armed. In the same volume is an 


Anglo-Saxon calendar, and for the month of May there 
is shown a nobleman hawking on horse-back, the feet of 
the steed being carefully shod, like those of a hawking 
equestrian of the 14th century, whose portrait will be re- 
ferred to shortly. 

Matthew of Paris speaks of horses both shod and un- 
shod, and is angry with an archbishop who demanded 
shoes for unshod horses.' 

In the ' Chronicon Monasterii de Abingdon,' a docu- 
ment probably of the loth or nth century, under the 
head of rents due to the hostillar is the following entry : 
' Hi sunt redditus quos habet hostilarius, ad ferramenta 
equorum, ad usum monachorum, pauperum, peregrin- 
orum, emenda.'^ 

In the 'Speculum Saxonica' (lib. ii. art. 12), it is 
mentioned that shoes were only applied to the fore-feet. 
' Four handsfull of corn shall be given to each horse 
during the day and night, and the horses shall be shod on 
the fore-feet [in anterioribus pedibus equi siifferrentur)' 
In the 'Jus Feudale Saxon.' (cap. 34, pt. 15) it is 
ordained, ' Their horses ought only to be shod on the 
fore-feet, and not on the hind-feet. '^ 

It would seem that the Anglo-Saxons experienced the 
same inconvenience from frost that we now do, for we read 
that in 832, the year began with excessive rains, and a frost 
succeeded, which was so sudden and intense, that the iced 
roads were nearly impassable by horses.'* 

Horses were shod in Scotland, in all probability, at as 
early a period as in England, though perhaps not regularly. 

' Fuslroke. Op. cit. ^ De Consuetudiuibus Abbendoniae. 

"* D:i Cange. Glossarium. * Annales Ruberi, p. jjrt. 



The first written evidence I can find that bears upon 
this point, is in the laws of Malcolm II. (a.d. 1003 — 1033), 
which were framed and in force for forty or fifty years 
before the Norman invasion of England. In one of these 
laws it is ordained, that when a man was condemned to 
death, the Crown took possession of his ' broken., unshod 
horses, and not more than 20 sheep, goats, and pigs,' ' etc. 

More than four centuries later, this statute appears to 
have been extant ; for in the new law of James III. (1487, 
Parliament 13, cap. 113), it was limited only to those horses 
intended for servile work [operas serviles destinantur) ; for 
ifthey were unbroken [indomitos) or intractable; or broken 
and shod, or, in fine, capable of carrying saddles, and 
being ridden upon, they were not to belong to the Crown/ 

The Norman invasion and conquest of England 
(1066) appears to have given rise to the supposition in 
many quarters, that the art of shoeing was introduced into 
this country by William the Conqueror. This is quite a 
mistake, as we have sufficiently shown. Horses had been 
shod for many centuries in Britain before the arrival of the 
Normans ; and though this practice may not have been, 
for various reasons, a general one, yet its benefits were 
sufficiently manifest to make it appreciated, and resorted 
to in particular circumstances. Another proof, if any more 
were needed, that the Saxons employed this defence for 
their horses' feet, would be found in the fact, that Wel- 

' Leges Malcomi Secundi, cap. 3. De Feodo Institiarii, Clericorum, 
etc. 4. * Item, de homine condemnato ad mortem. Coram Justitiaro, 
coronator habebit e(juos domitos non ferratos ; oves infra viginti, capras, 
et porcos, infra decern,' etc. 

" Skeene. Regiam Majestatem Scotiae. Edinburgh, 1609. 


beck, in Nottinghamshire, was, at the invasion, in the pos- 
session of a Saxon chief named Gamelhere, who was 
allowed to retain two carucates of land in Cuckeney, on 
condition that he shod the king's palfreys upon all the 
feet, with the king's shoes and nails, whenever he visited 
the manor of Mansfield ; and if he put in all the nails, 
the king was to give him a palfrey worth four marks ; or 
if the horse was lamed in shoeing, the chief had to supply 
one of like value to the king. ' A Saxon nobleman unac- 
quainted with the art of shoeing before the conquest of 
England by William, would not have been deemed a very 
safe agent in superintending that important operation im- 
mediately after that event. If any reliance is to be placed 
on the Bayeux tapestry, said to have been wrought by 
Matilda, the wife of the Conqueror, or the Empress 
Matilda, wife of Henry I. of England, the Normans and 
the Saxons are in one part represented with their horses 
shod with heavy shoes, while in another part King Harold's 
horses have unarmed feet. 

The Normans brought many horses with them to 
England, and it was their cavalry that enabled them to 
defeat the army of Harold II. From a period far ante- 
cedent to that conflict, the Normans were acquainted with 
the mode of extending the usefulness of the horse by 
protecting its hoofs with a metallic rim attached by nails ; 
and on their gaining the supremacy in England, the art 
of shoeing appears to have received marked attention. 
William gave to Simon St Liz, a Norman nobleman who 
had accompanied him across the channel, the town of 
Northampton, and the whole hundred of Falkley, then 

' T/iur/ifoii's Nottinghamshire, p. 447. 
19 * 


valued at ^^40 per annum, to provide shoes for his 
horses.' Another follower, Henry de Farrariis, or Fer- 
rers, is said to have taken his name from the circum- 
stance that he was intrusted with the shoeing of the 
king's horses, or rather, the control of the shoers ; for 
which his sovereign bestowed upon him the honour of 
Tutbury, in the county of Stafford.^ After the Crusades, 
when it became the custom for families to take coat- 
armour hereditarily, a charge of six horse-shoes was as- 
sumed by this great house.^ These armorial bearings 
are, without doubt, much older than the regular establish- 
ment of heraldry, and were, with the family name, signs 
of office. ' This bearing of horse-shoes in armoury,' 
says Guillim, 'is very ancient, as the arms of Robert 
Ferrers, Earl Ferrers, testifieth, who lived in the time of 
King Stephen, and who bore for his arms, argent ; six 
horse-shoes, sable.''* The origin of the family name and 
office is perpetuated by a curious custom. The town of 
Oakham, the comparatively insignificant capital of the 
smallest county in England, also lays claim to horse-shoes 
in its arms, and Guillim relates that it is the chief town in 
Rutlandshire, seated in a rich valley, and an indifi^erent 
good and well-inhabited town. Here is an ancient 
privilege or custom which the inhabitants claim, that is, 
' if any nobleman enter precinct or lordship, as an homage, 
he is to forfeit one of his horse's shoes, unless he redeem 

' Dugdale. Baron., vol. i. p. 58. Blount's Tenures, p. 50. 

"^ Brooke. Discovery of Errors in the Catalogue of the Nobility, 
p. 198. ^ Ibid. p. 6^. 

■* Ths present Earl Ferrers has, as one of the supporters in his coat 
of arms, a reindeer charged on the shoulder with a horse-shoe. — Vide 
Buike's Pecra^re List. 


it with money ; and the truth of this is apparent by the 
many horse-shoes nailed upon the shire-hall door ; and 
their badge is a horse-shoe.' This shire-hall is one of 
the oldest mansions in the kingdom, and was built by 
Wakelin de Ferrers, son of an earl of that name. 

Evelyn, travelling in 1654, writes in his Diary: 'I 
took a journey into the northern parts. Riding through 
Oakham, a pretty town in I^utlandshire, famous for the 
tenure of the barons, who held it by the taking off a shoe 
from every nobleman's horse that passed with his lord 
through the street, unless redeemed with a certain piece 
of money. In token of this are several gilded shoes 
nailed on the castle gate.' And Gough, in his Camden, 
asserts that the bailiff of the town had power to take a 
shoe off the horse of any man of noble birth who declined 
to pay the tribute money ; the amount to be paid being 
left to the equestrian's generosity, while his liberality re- 
gulated the size of the horse-shoe inscribed with his name 
and title, which was set up to commemorate the event. 

The origin of this singular impost or tenure is not 
known. A recent visitor, an army veterinary surgeon, 
says: 'I was much amused about four years ago, when 
marching through Oakham, a town in Rutlandshire, to 
find a very arbitrary law in existence there. On looking 
over the court-house, I found the walls literally covered 
with horse-shoes, and some of them of the most exag- 
gerated and fantastic shape, gilt and emblazoned with the 
heraldic devices peculiar to their donors, and others the 
simple shoe. When I questioned the worthy old guide 
relative to the eccentricity of the act, he informed me 
that it originated with Elizabeth. Her Majesty, when 


passing through that town, found one of her horses lame 
from the loss of a shoe, and there was no one who could 
replace it. She forthwith issued a mandate compelling 
all peers of the realm to forfeit a horse's shoe when pass- 
ing through the locality, or the payment of a fine. 
The proceeds accruing therefrom were devoted to the 
maintenance of a blacksmith.'' This tradition is not a 
very probable one, as it conflicts with nearly all the others ; 
the custom is, in all likelihood, of an earlier date than the 
days of Queen Elizabeth. 

Blount, in his 'Jocular Tenures,' informs us that a Duke 
of York once paid a silver horse-shoe to Lord Ferrers, and 
that a silver horse-shoe is due from every scion of royalty 
who rides across one of his manors. Of the shoes seen by 
Evelyn, three at least are said to remain — those bearing 
the names of Earl Gainsborough, Henry Montagu, and 
Lord Gray. Among the more notable ones of later date 
are those presented by the Earl of Cardigan in 1667, 
Lord Ipswich in 1687, Lord Guildford in 1690, and Lady 
Percy in 1771. More than thirty years ago, Queen 
Victoria acknowledged the right of Oakham, as her 
uncles, the Prince Regent and the Duke of York, had 
done before her ; and the late Duke of Wellington soon 
followed her example. The law itself has sanctioned this 
unique species of taxation. Lords Denham, Campbell, and 
Wensleydale having followed the precedent of the famous 
Lord Mansfield. The day upon which Lord Campbell's 
horse-shoe was added to the collection of trophies, was a 
red-letter one in the chronicles of Oakham Hall, for on 
that day it recovered its long-lost ' golden shoe.' This 

' F. F. Collins, Royal Dragoo?is. The Veterinarian^ p. 66^, 1867. 


was not really a gold shoe, however, but a gilt one, that 
had done duty on the hoof of Lord Willoughby d'Eresby's 
favourite horse ' Clinker.' Deceived by its appearance, 
or misled by its popular designation, some rogue stole 
Clinker's shoe. This happened in 1846, and for twelve 
years the pride of Oakham Hall was conspicuous by its 
absence; but in 1858, the bailiff of the town was 
astonished by receiving the long-missing golden shoe 
per rail, accompanied by some humorous verses ; but 
the thief was never discovered.' 

The most recent instance of the horse-shoe impost 
having been levied, is reported in the daily papers for Jan- 
uary, 1869 : — 

* Shoeing a Peer.^A short time since. Lady Louisa 
Finch, Lord Redesdale, Mr Campbell (who were on a 
visit to George Finch, Esq., Burley-on-the-Hill), and 
G. H. Finch, Esq., M.P. for Rutland, paid a visit to 
Oakham Castle to inspect the Old Norman Hall (the 
oldest in England except Westminster Hall) and its 
horse-shoes. This getting to the ears of the bailiff, he 
was quickly down upon his Lordship for the honour of a 
shoe. Lord Redesdale selected one similar to those which 
of late have been fixed on the w^alls, and the new shoe 
will shortly be added to the large number now in the 
castle. The old manorial custom, from which this arises, 
took place at the first erection of the castle, on the grant 
to Walchelme de Ferrars, whose ancestors bore arms 
seme of horse-shoes, as designative of his office of Master 
of the Horse to the Duke of Normandy. In the early 
Norman period of our history, grants of customs seem 

' Chambers's Journal. 


to have been on this principle, that the Lords de Ferrars 
were entitled to demand from every baron, on his first 
passing through this lordship, a shoe from one of the 
horses, to be nailed upon the castle gate, the bailiff of the 
manor being empowered to stop the horses (and carriages 
also of late years) until service was performed. The cus- 
tom is still preserved in Lord Redesdale giving a shoe on 
the 24th September, 1868.' 

Soon after the Norman Conquest, we also find that 
' Henry de Averyng held the manor of Morton, in the 
county of Essex, in capite of our Lord the King, by the 
serjeantry of finding a man with a horse, value ten shil- 
lings, and four horse-shoes {quatiwr Jerri.s equorum), one 
sack of barley, and one iron buckle, as often as it may 
happen that our Lord the King should go with his army 
into Wales, at his own proper expense for forty days.' ' 
These acts will testify to the high value put upon shoeing 
by the early Norman kings. 

It is rather amusing to read Bracy Clark's history of 
the introduction of shoeing into Britain by the Normans, 
and how the evil they had carried with them — for Bracy 
Clark's sole idea seemed to be that shoeing was an un- 
mitigated evil — recoiled upon themselves, and caused 
the death of King William. He points the moral by 
stating, that the conqueror lost his life through his horse 
falling with him in jumping a ditch where the ground was 
slippery, for if the animal had not been shod he would not 
have fallen. ' Thus,' he says, ' the monarch who was the 
first to introduce the art of shoeing into England, was one 
of the first and most celebrated victims.' And M. Nicard 
' Blount's Tenures, p. 16. 


believes this statement, and explains how the accident 
occurred. The death of the king may have been caused 
by his horse falling with him, though that is a rather 
doubtful matter, as one account has it that he died from 
the effects of a wound sustained in France ; at any rate, 
it is certain that he was not the first, by perhaps at least 
ten centuries, to introduce the art of shoeing into Britain. 




In connection with the arch^ological discoveries which 
have enabled us to fix, approximately, the period when 
shoeing was first introduced into, or practised in, Europe, 
I have deferred alluding, until now, to another matter 
which has excited much interest among antiquarians ; 
this is the discovery of what are generally termed ' hip- 
posandals ' — objects in iron, of somewhat different shapes, 
but all apparently designed for the same purpose. In 
various museums in France, Germany, Switzerland, and 
Britain, these curious-looking instruments are exhibited 
under the designation of ' hipposandals^ or ' solece ferrece^ 
owing to its being supposed, — because the Romans did 
not employ nailed-shoes, and these articles usually pre- 


senting themselves with Roman remains, — they were 
used as sandals for their horses' feet. A large number 
of archaeologists, — at the head of whom are the Abbe 
Cochet,' M. Namur," and Mr Roach Smith ;3 and 
several Continental veterinary surgeons, with others, Pro- 
fessors Reynal of Alfort,'^ and Defays of Brussels,^ MM. 
Fischer of Cessingen,^ and Bieler of Rolle^ (Swit- 
zerland) — are of this opinion; while others again, as 
Professor Quicherat of Chart es, MM. Castan and De- 
lacroix of Besanc^on,^ Captain Bial^ of the French Artil- 
lery, and M. Quiquerez of Switzerland, are opposed to 
them, and think that these articles could never have been 
intended for, or worn as, shoes or sandals. Mr Roach 
Smith, the eminent archasologist, appears at one time to 
have held a middle opinion on the subject : ' It has been 
supposed they were used as temporary shoes for horses 
with tender feet, and they have been called stirrups ; but 
both these notions are unsatisfactory.' '° Some of these 
so-called sandals have been found in Gallo-Roman and 
Frankish graves ; many with Roman remains of various 
kinds, and others without any accompanying relics. 

Though their forms are varied, yet it will be found 

' Le Tombeau de Childeric I. 

' Public, de la Soc. Archeol. du Luxemburg, vols. vii. p. iSjj xi. 
p. 92. 

^ Collect. Antiq., vol. iii. p. 129. - — 

'' Journal Vet. de Belgique, 1853. 

^ Annales de Med. Veterinaire, 1867. 

* Journal Vet. de Belgique, 18J3. 

' Journal de Med. Veterinaire de Lyon, 1857. 

^ Journal de Med. Vet. Militaire, i866. 

' Megnin. Origine de la Ferrure. 

'° Catalogue of the Museum of London Antiquities, p. 77. 


that they chiefly belong to three models which, in all 
probability, have had the same uses, though they differ 
in shape. The first model may be described as a some- 
what oblong or oval plate, or sole of metal, having a 
pyriform or circular opening in the middle (supposed to 
be for the purpose of allowing the moisture to escape 
from the horse's foot, as well as to give it air !). Trans- 
verse or crucial grooves are nearly always noticed on the 
under-surface of this plate, as if to make it bite the ground 
better. Two clips, sometimes four, rise from its sides, 
which are terminated at times in rings or hooks bending 
outwards, and the posterior part of the plate usually ends 
in a hook that projects more or less upwards. 

The second form, found concurrently with the first, 
is much narrower in the sole, has a longer heel or spur 
than it, and is besides furnished with one in front which 
rises like the prow of a galley ; clips also flank the sides, 
but these are irregular in number, sometimes one on 
each side, sometimes two, and in one instance I have 
seen (in the British Museum) only one on one side ; 
these clips are often rather high, and nearly always ter- 
minate in eyes or hooks bending outwards. Sometimes 
there is an oval opening in the sole, but the grooves are 
seldom absent. # 

The third description is more curious. There is no 
hook in front, but the posterior one yet remains ; and the 
two lateral appendages are prolonged, gradually tapering 
and bending towards each other as they incline to the 
front of the plate, until they meet and are welded together, 
when they are drawn out to form a strong hook, as if to 
compensate for the absence of the anterior crotchet of the 
second model. 


So early as 1758, one of the first class was found at 
Culm, near Avenches, Switzerland;^ but in this century 
they have been largely dug up over a comparatively wide 
expanse of territory. They have been discovered in the 
departments of the Sarthe and Moselle; in 1853 at 
Arques, in the Roman establishment of Archelles ; at 
Caudebec-les-Elbeuf (the ancient Uggate) ; at Riviere- 
Thibonville (Eure) ; at Vieux, near Caen (the ancient 
Argasgenus) ; at Vieil-Evreux (the ancient Mediolanum) ; 
at Chatelet, Dijon, Autun, Troyes, Montbeliard, Man- 
deure, and Seine-Inferieure. They have likewise been 
found in the Prankish cemeteries of Lorraine and Cham- 
pagne ; and in 1862, at the demolition of the ancient 
bridge of Reignac (Indre) a number of them were 
recovered, with a sword-blade, and coins of Adrian and 
Antoninus. In 1854, two more were extracted from the 
Roman road between Langres and Rheims ; these are 
now in the Chalons Museum. Another was picked up at 
Chateau de Beauregard (Hautes-Pyrenees) in 1856, and 
was presented to the Cluny Museum by M. Fould; and 
M. Widranges procured some from excavations at Re- 
mennecourt. Metz, Strasbourg, and Stuttgart have also 
furnished specimens. In Switzerland they have been 
found at Granges, Canton de Vaud. In Germany, at 
Schwarzacht, near Echternach, and particularly in the 
Roman camp at Dalheim, In England, at Stony Strat- 
ford ; Spring-Head, in Kent ; and in London. 

As remarked, these articles are nearly always dis- 
covered on the sites of Roman buildings, contiguous to 
Roman stations, or with Roman reliquo'. Not unfre- 

' Schmidt. Recueil d' A nliq. trouvo a Avenches, Culon, etc. Berlin, 


quently the three models are collected on the same site, 
and at the same depth, and with them have also been 
found the usual Gallo- or Romano-Celtic horse-shoes. 
Antiquarians have been greatly puzzled how to designate 
them ; for some time they were stands or supports for 
lamps ; afterwards they were stirrups ; and then they 
figure as temporary shoes or sandals for horses with 
diseased or hoof-worn feet ; as slippers that the Romans 
have strapped on their horses' limbs at night after long 
journeys ; and as real defences for ordinary work — a step 
in advance of the sock with its metal sole ; and lastly, as 
busandals, or bullock-slippers. 

As the subject is one of more than ordinary interest, 
on account of the various hypotheses raised, and from 
the fact that these articles are now becoming somewhat 
common in museums, where they are duly labelled 
' Hipposandals,' we will glance at the description and 
probable uses of some of them at least. 

Dalheim affords a good instance of a locality in which 
all three forms have been discovered, accompanied by 
Roman remains of every description, as well as the ordin- 
ary nailed horse-shoe. In the first report from Professor 
Namur,' amongst other relics, he mentions having dug 
up several ordinary horse-shoes, and beside them were 
five pathological shoes. The latter are described as having 
their base oval, with a hole in the middle, and on each 
side towards the front a clip 2,3 inches high, ending 
in a hook-like process. Behind was a prolongation, also 
terminating in a hook. These strange articles were sub- 

' Public, de la Soc. 'pour le Recher. des Monumens Luxembourg, 
vol. vii. 



mitted to veterinary surgeon Fischer, of Cessingen, in 
1 85 1, who, on examining them, gave it as his opinion 
that they were ' hippopodes pathologiques,' intended to 
protect and cure hoofs too much worn, through default 
of shoeing.' This supposed sandal and its mode of 
attachment were delineated as in the accompanying 
figures (figs. 112, 113). In 1852-3, the excavations being 

fig. 112 fig. 113 

continued, with many articles belonging to the Roman 
period were found one ordinary shoe and several of the 
so-called pathological yer^. One of these belonged to the 
first description, but no horse's foot, so far as I am aware, 
was attempted to be fitted into it (fig. 114)/ 

In 1854-5, it is again 
reported that a new form 
of hipposandal had been 
discovered, accompanied 
by another belonging to 
the second category. ^ Al- 
lusion is made to the 
former discoveries : ' Besides some ordinary shoes, there 

' Journal Veterinaire de Belgique, p. 30, 1853. 
' Op. cit. vol. ix. 3 (jp_ cjf yjj] xi. 

fig. 114 


have been found others which are distinguished by 
a singular form, and which we may designate hippo- 
sandals or " hippopodes pathologiques." The base of these 
shoes is oval in shape, and in some there is an opening in 
the middle. On each side, and near the front part, there 
is a clip {rebord) furnished with a round ear, and another 
rebord at the heel is terminated by a hook turned towards 
the ground. These shoes (Jers) were attached by means 
of straps, which passed through the two ears and under 
the hook behind. It appears that it was made use of 
when the hoof was diseased or worn by journeying, par- 
ticularly in mountainous countries. Such at least is the 
opinion of distinguished veterinary surgeons who have 
examined these shoes.' M, Namur then quotes the evi- 
dence of Fischer, who alludes to the writer in the ' United 
Service Gazette' we have already noticed, in saying: 
'These shoes present much resemblance with the ancient 
shoes of Lycia,' &c.: showing how error is perpetuated 
and spread. We have no evidence to prove that horse- 
shoes were ever worn in Lycia ; the resemblance of the 
Triquetra on a Lycian coin, to a shoe, was merely the 
fancy of a writer full of surmises and conjectures. 

Namur continues : ' The use of shoes and straps (Jers 
a courroies) is evidently much anterior to that of the 
nailed shoes.' Then reference is made to the new dis- 
covery. 'The excavations at Dalheim in 1854-5 have 
furnished two additional specimens. One, with clips, 
differs from those I have described, in that there is no 
hook behind. There is only a rebord pierced with two 
holes, in which are two oxidized nails with flat heads (fig. 
115). The other specimen differs most essentially from 



the form generally known. It has also a base of an oval 
form, without an open- 
ing in the middle. The 
two lateral clips towards 
the anterior part, instead 
of being separate and 
terminated by ears, are 
brought together and 
united into a point which 
is bent towards the front in a hook or ear projecting above 
the anterior convex border of the shoe. This form ap- 
pears altogether new, and M. Fischer has never seen one 
like it in the veterinary schools of Alfort, or elsewhere ' 
(fig. 116). Professor Defays, of Brussels, has rehabilitated 
fig. 112, and attach- 
ed it to a horse's 
limb. It will be 
observed that the 
fastening for the 
strap at the heel is 
rather awkwardly 
placed, and so arranged that no horse could walk with it. 
Fischer,' in describing those of the first and second 
class, previously discovered, remarks that they were not 
attached by means of nails, but by straps or cords. 
When the fer was found to be adapted to the size of a 
particular foot, the prolongation at the heel (supposed to 
be previously on a level with the body of the ' sandal ') 
was then bent upwards in conformity with the dimensions 

' Journal de Med.Veterinaire, 1853. 


and shape of the hoof. ' Je pense qu'ils etaient employes 
comme fers pathologiques destines a garantir et a guerir 
les pieds deja uses par une trop grande course, et aux- 
quels il etait alors impossible d'adapter des fers a clous,' 
This camp of Dalheim alone furnished twelve of these 

An example of what we may term the second descrip- 
tion was found in the Hill of Sacrifices, at Granges, in 
Switzerland, where ordinary shoes had been excavated. 
They were four in number, according to M. Troyon, 
who asserted that they were found on the feet of a horse 
or mule. They are thus noticed by veterinary surgeon 
Bieler, though no mention is made as to whether he or 
M. Troyon, or any other persons worthy of credit, were 
present when the remains were exhumed. 'There was 
found near Granges, Canton de Vaud, in the midst of 
Roman ruins, the skeleton of a horse or mule, the four 
feet of which were garnished with iron boots. These 
articles, now in the museums of Avenches and Bel-Air, were 
the solecp ferrece spoken of by the ancients. They are 
composed of a plate of iron destined to be applied under 
the foot, round at the toe, and following the shape of the 
hoof, but narrowing towards the middle of the quarters in 
such a way as to allow a portion of the heels to rest on 
the ground ; then they widen a little towards the posterior 
part, which is provided with an appendage or branch, with 
a hook raised at a right angle in the soleae of the fore feet, 
but less elevated in those of the hind. In front, at each 
corner of the toe, a strong clip {hinqon), about ij inch 
high, carries a buckle or hook at its summit. These 
three buckles were quite sufficient to fix the soJea in a 



firm manner, and it is scarcely possible that anything in- 
tervened between it and the hoof, for no traces of holes or 
rivets were perceived. The presence of straps leads to the 
supposition that these soleas were applied during work only, 
and that they were removed when the animal entered its 
stable. Without this precaution, the straps, already dan- 
gerous by the wear to which they might subject the skin 
of the pastern, could not fail to be yet more pernicious if 
left continually tightened around the feet. It is remark- 
able that the clips are only at the corners of the toes, and 
that the iron sole should become narrowed at the part 
which corresponds to the quarters ; was this to prevent 
slipping ? Or did the Romans understand that the heels 
were elastic ? It is very possible that their spirit of ob- 
servation taught them something respecting this. The 
presence of these four solece on the feet of the same horse, 
sufficiently indicates that they were not used for maladies 
alone, as has been surmised, but habitually'' (fig. 117). 

tig. 117 

Journal de Mc'd. Vot. de Lyon, p. 241, 1857. 



The instrument found at Chateau Beauregard, Hautes- 

Pyrenees, and now in 

the Cluny Museum, 
belongs to the first 
class (figs. 1 1 8, 119), 
and is shown here in 
profile, as well as upper 
face. One of those 
discovered at Vieil- 
Evreux is also figured 
(fig. 120), and agrees 
with fig. 115 found at 
Dalheim. Of a more 
peculiar shape, but yet 
evidently intended for 
the same purpose, are 
two of the number 
recovered at Remen- 
necourt, and delineat- 

ed by M. de Widrange, an antiquarian of Bar-le-Duc 
(figs. 121, 122). Figure 121 is remarkable for its pos- 
sessing no rings or ears, or anything by which it could 
be attached to the hoof, supposing it to have been in- 



tended for such a purpose; and figure 122 is not much 
better adapted for a sandal. 

fig. 121 

fig. 122 

fig. 123 

Professor Defays 
gives a drawing of an- 
other of this division, 
with an eye and ring 
posteriorly, two side 
clips without hooks, 
and the sole pierced 
by two round holes 
(%• 123). 

Figures of the second type are as numerous, if not 
more so, than those of the first ; and they have also been 
found with them, 
and with nailed 
shoes, in various 
excavations on 
Roman and 
Prankish sites. 
The Museum of ^g ,2^ 



fig- 125 

CI Liny, France, ex- 
hibits one as a hip- 
posandal, and is here 
shown in profile and 
upper surface (figs. 
124, 12,5) ; and a simi- 
lar one, found at Scrupt 
in 1846, is also delin- 
eated (fig. 126). This, 
M. de Widrange as- 
sured the Abbe Cochet, 
had been reported by 
the workman who 

found it, as yet attached to the limb of the animal by means 
of straps that had been first passed round the pastern, then 
through the eyelet in front, and buckled underneath the 
hook behind. The Abbe, however, receives this inform- 
ation with suspicion, and I think in this he is justified.' 

' ' Je le declare francliement, j'ai quelque peine a accepter cette as- 
sertion, toute positiv^e qu'elle parait. La raison principale, c'est que M. 
de Widranges n'a pas vu Iui-n;ienie le fait qu'il raconle 5 qu'il le tient 


Figure 127 is a drawing of another of this class exhibited 

in the Museum of Besanqon, which differs yet more in 
shape, though, unlike the last, it has only a single clip on 
each side. M. Megnin,' who does not appear to have 
noticed the existence of the class to be next described, 
evidently believes the two kinds to have been employed 
as chaussures for domestic animals. ' It is certain, indeed, 
that these shoes could only have been worn by very slow- 
paced pack animals, such as mules and oxen, and that the 
name given to them by the Abbe Cochet, hippo-sandals^ 
is not suitable ; it ought to be mulo-sandals or bu-sandals. 
This last designation was originated by M. Delacroix,^ 

d'ouvriers toujours disposes a en iniposer ou a se faire illusion a eux- 
memes, et enfin^ parce que notre experience nous a montre combien il 
est difficile que le pied du cbeval se soit suffisamnient conserve pour 
etre aussi bien restilue, meme par I'homme le plus competent. Quoi- 
que M. de Widranges soit un fort bonnete et tres-consciencieux arcb- 
eologue, je lui demanderai la permission de citer, sous sa seule re- 
sponsabilite, les faits qui precedent, faits dont I'lmportance est d'autant 
plus grand que jusqu'ici, en France, ils sont seuls de leur genre.' — 
Le Tombeau de Chihleric, p. 154. 

' La Marecbalerie Fran^aise, p. 40. Paris, 1867. 
Memoires de la Soc. d'Emulation du Doubs, 1864. 



who has found iron solece which exactly fitted the foot 

of an ox, and even one 
that covered only one 
claw (figs. 128, 129) ; 
but it is none the less 
certain that some of the 
soleas could be applied 
to the feet of mules.' 

Specimens of the 
third model are not 
apparently so numer- 
ous. In addition to 
the one represented as 
found at Dalheim, an 
example is given of a 
still more peculiar arti- 
cle of this class found 
at Abbaye Wood, Can- 
ton St Saens, France, in 1 86 1 ; the Abbe Cochet designates 
it a ' hippo-sandal.'' It is remarkable for the two stud-like 
processes fixed to its lower surface, and for the slight 

inclination to- 
wards the front of 
its united branches, 
one of which has 
been partially de- 
stroyed by oxida- 
tion (fig. 130). 

Another good 
specimen of the 

La Seine Inlerieure, Hist, et Archaeol. Paris, 1864. 

fig- 129 



third class is from an excavation in London, and is de- 
scribed by C. Roach Smith. ' It differs but little from 
the one found in the Roman camp at Dalheim, and is six 
inches in length (fig. 131). 

The British Mu- 
seum contains six of 
these mysterious in- 
struments, one of them 
more curious than any 
yet discovered. It has _ 

only one real lateral fig- 131 

clip, the usual two being quite in front, where they are 
clumsily united to form a projecting hook. The sole 
is very narrow, and much oxidized on the ground sur- 
face, and the ordinary hook-like termination at the end 
is present (fig. 132). 

The others be- 
long to the three 
classes ; one of the 
first has the side clips 
long and thin, " and 
looking as if the 
hooks had been worn ^^- '^^ 

or rusted off, and the sole had been repaired by welding 
on a thin and narrow strip of iron in shape somewhat 
like a horse-shoe. The actual sole is six inches long, 
but the total length is six and three-quarters inches. The 
width across at the clips is four and three-quarters inches. 

The others are somewhat different in length and 

' Catalogue of the Museum of London Antiquities, p. 77, 1854. 
Collectanea Antiqua, vol. iii. p. 128. 


width. One from the Bridge of Reignac, belonging to 
the second class, and presented by M. Picot to Sir J, 
Lubbock, by whom it was given to the museum, mea- 
sures six inches long, three and a half wide, and the 
height of the front hook is two and three-quarters inches. 
It is inscribed ' Fer de Cheval.' Two of the specimens 
exhibited have the flat strips of iron forming the clips 
welded on to the sole, which in one of them is only two and 
three-eighths inches wide. To compensate for this want of 
breadth, these project a little from each side before being 
turned upwards at an acute angle. The ground-surface, 
as already mentioned, is notched or furrowed in various 
directions. The workmanship of all of them is very 
rough and primitive, but the welding appears to be solid, 
and the iron of excellent quality. They are compara- 
tively light, the sole plate being generally the heaviest 
and strongest part. 

Springhead, near Gravesend, Kent, so prolific in 
antiquities belonging to the British, Roman, and sub- 
sequent periods, furnishes us with two specimens of the 
first and second models. These, through the obliging 
kindness of Mr Sylvester, I have been allowed to inspect 
very carefully. Figure 133 has the oval or pear-shaped 
sole with the wide opening in the middle. One of the 
side clips has been oxidized completely through, and 
the other has been temporarily repaired ; it is narrow, 
and the height is three and seven-eighths inches. The 
point of the hook inclines inwards. The sole is worn 
and oxidized to a thin edge in front, and is thicker 
behind towards the hook. The specimen is little more 
than an aggregation of rusty flakes ; its length, not includ- 


ing the hook at the extremity, is five and a half inches, and 

fig- 133 

the width across the sole between the clips is four and a 
half inches ; behind this part it contracts very consider- 
ably, and in bending slightly upwards expands a little. 
Figure 134 is altogether a larger instrument. Its 

length within the front and back hooks is six and a half 



inches ; the width between the side cUps is four and a 
half inches, though the sole before and behind these is 
much narrower. This specimen is also much corroded, 
and the terminal hooks at the extremity of the side clips, ' 
if they ever were present, have disappeared. The face of 
the front hook is worn, as if it had been rubbed on the 
ground, or against some hard substance. The sole has 
transverse and longitudinal grooves. One side, as shown 
in this copy from a photograph, is much more worn than 
the other. The side clips are wide and have a slight 
twist inwards towards the front. One identical in shape 
with this was found in London, and is represented in the 
'Archaeological Journal' (vol. xi. p. 416). Another has 
been found at Langton, Wiltshire, and two discovered at 
Camerton are now in the museum of the Bristol Philo- 
sophical Institution. 

Another example of the third type, resembling, in all 
its essential features, those found at Dalheim ; Abbaye 
Wood, France ; and in London, was picked up in the 
neighbourhood of Zazenhausen, near Stuttgart, among 
the roots of an old tree which was being removed. This 
was in a place where it appears the Romans had been 
really settled, for the remains of Roman baths, as well as 

a number of arms and 
such-like articles of un- 
doubted Roman origin, 
have been gathered there. 
It consists of a ground 
plate (fig. 135), corre- 
sponding, as Grosz' informs us, with the form of a horse's 
' Op. cit. p. 13. 


sole ; into it is riveted three studs, or we might term 
them calks, about half-an-inch high, the foremost of 
which is placed in the middle of the toe of the plate, 
and the other two are placed on each side behind. From 
both sides of the back part springs a clasp or band as 
is usual in this type, about an inch broad, which inclines 
forwards and upwards, uniting in the middle, about two 
inches above the ground plate, to form a round eyelet 
or ring, through which Grosz supposed a thong was 
drawn. There is a hook for the same purpose at the 
rear of the plate, this veterinarian observes ; though 
whether the article served as a so-called pathological 
shoe for diseased hoofs, as a temporary expedient when 
horses had lost a shoe, or whether destined for hoofs which 
were too much worn to be shod, he could not decide. 

After an inspection of so many of these articles, which 
are apparently Roman, or belonging to the Roman period, 
the question arises, are they justly designated horse, mule, 
or bullock sandals ? or have the Romans, or the people 
in whose territory they were found, ever employed them 
as a defence for the feet of their horses ? 

We have noticed that at one time they were supposed 
to be supports for lamps ; ' also lychnuchi pensiles, or hang- 
ing lamp-holders ; the specimen found at Langton, Wilt- 
shire, Sir S. Meyrick supposed to be a spur ; then they 
were imagined to be ancient stirrups,^ and now they are 
almost universally designated ' horse-sandals.' Professor 
Defays even contrives to adjust one to an animal's foot, 
though it must be rather uncomfortable about the heel ; 

' Grivaud ile la Viucelle. Arts et Metiers des Anciens. 
' Cachet. Le Tombeau de Childerie, p. 164, note. 


and veterinary surgeon Bieler asserts they were in ordin- 
ary use ; while others declare they were only employed 
as temporary shoes, to be applied when the hoofs were too 
much worn or the feet diseased. Baron Ziegesar, of Berg, 
after reading the report of M. Namur regarding the Dal- 
heim discoveries, wrote to the President of the Archaeolo- 
gical Society of Luxembourg, informing him that, in his 
opinion, the sabots, or hippo-sandals, were intended to be 
put on the horses' feet at night during a halt, and that 
they were never used for marching.' It is, indeed, diffi- 
cult to understand why defences should be required when 
the animals were at rest, and the hoofs not exposed to 
attrition, and why they should be left oif at the very time 
they were likely to be needed. If difficult to be retained 
on the hoofs during the day, they would not be less so 
at night when the horses would be lying down and getting 
up frequently, and the uncouth projections behind, before, 
and on each side of the feet, would be certain to entangle 
the animals wearing them, and either cause these clumsy 
contrivances to be torn off, or expose the horses and their 
riders to serious accidents. 

Mr Roach Smith, at first incredulous as to this appli- 
cation of these articles, appears to have become convinced 
of its correctness by discovering that in Holland horses 
yet wear sandals. ' At the present day in Holland it is 
usual to bind long flat iron shoes to the horses' feet. They 
are fastened with a strap of leather, and are somewhat in 
the form of an ordinary horse-shoe, but much longer and 
wider; and, did we not know they are commonly used, 

' Pub. de la Soc. Arch, de Luxembourg, vol. xii. p. 163. 



would seem almost as unsuitable as the iron shoes under 
consideration. Singular as the shape of these iron im- 
plements certainly is, we shall probably not be wrong in 
explaining them as veritable iron horse-shoes, such as 
Catullus refers to ; and it is worthy of notice that at 
Springhead, where some were dug up at the same time 
and place, horse-shoes of the modern fashion were also 
found, as well as other objects in iron.' ' To what extent 
they may be worn by the Dutch horses I do not know ; 
but from the shape of them, which that gentleman has 
kindly permitted me to copy from an interesting but 
unpublished work^ (fig. 136), it will be seen that they are 
very different to the Roman 
productions, and not at all 
intended for every-day wear. 
They are only used, I pre- 
sume, for travelling on deep 
snow, or on marshy land where 
there is danger of sinking, and 
never on firm ground. I have 
seen similar snow or bog shoes 
used on horses in the High- 
lands of Scotland in remov- 
ing peat. In this respect, as 
well as in their form, they re- 
semble the snow shoes of the 
North- American hunters and ^^- '^^ 

the Scandinavians. The so-called hippo-sandals could 

_' C. R. Smith. Illustrations of Roman London, p. 146. 
' Letters from Holland. 


never serve such a purpose, as they would no more pre- 
serve the animal wearing them from sinking than the shoe 
of the present day. 

Other authorities have not only decided that these 
antique contrivances were fastened on the feet of solipeds 
during the time of the Romans, but that they were in 
use until a comparatively recent age. Baron de Bon- 
stetten remarks : ' The employment of horse-shoes of this 
form (modern) was only introduced by the Romans at a 
late period ; those we see at Rome and in the " Museo 
Borbonico" at Naples are a kind of shots {souliers) which 
were attached by straps to the horse's feet, as the " in- 
duere " of Pliny attests.' ' And the Abbe Cochet writes : 
' I also know that when a very distinguished Belgian 
archaeologist, M. Hagemans, the author of "The Cabinet 
d' Amateur," was at Milan in 1858, he saw in the collec- 
tion of the Chevalier Ubaldo an iron hippo-sandal in 
magnificent preservation, and which did not appear to 
him to be very old. Prince Biondelli, a learned Milanese 
archaeologist, who accompanied him, assured him that this 
horse sahot ought to belong to the loth or nth century. 
The Italian antiquary was also of opinion that the employ- 
ment of shoes without nails was in vogue vip to a late 
period of the middle ages.' ^ 

With all due deference to the deservedly high re- 
putation of the many authorities who have inspected and 
pronounced these iron utensils 'sandals,' after carefully 
examining and measuring them, and perusing the evidence 
brought forward to support that opinion, I cannot but con- 
clude that the general opinion is an erroneous one, and for 

' Recueil d' Antiquities Suisses, p. 30. " Op. cit. p. 163. 


the following reasons : i. These objects have not, so far as 
I am aware, been found in any country at a period which 
we might designate ' pre-Roman ' — that is, in any region 
where the Romans have not been, nor before their invasion 
of the regions in which these articles have been discovered. 
1. They have been found most frequently, I think, in 
places where the simple ordinary nail-shoe has been met 
with, and either with it, or so situated as to show they be- 
longed to, and were in use at, the same period. 3. The 
evidence now collected would appear to indicate that 
shoeing with narrow plates and nails was largely practised 
in several countries, even before the arrival of the Romans; 
and also that in all probability the Romans themselves 
shod their horses in the ordinary manner at the same 
time that these strange-looking fabrications were in use 
for some purpose or other. The advantages of shoeing 
by means of nails must have been very striking to the 
Romans when they first became acquainted with it ; so 
much so, that we should indeed think them extremely 
stupid if they did not avail themselves of it, and still had re- 
course to this unlikely contrivance. Cognizant of the art of 
defending the hoof by a thin narrow plate of iron, pierced 
with six holes, and which could be made in a few minutes, 
and firmly secured to the hoofs in as brief a space of 
time, it cannot for a moment be conceded that they would 
either allow their horses to travel unshod until they were 
foot-sore, and then apply this complicated sandal, with a 
sole much harder than the ground, to the bruised surface ; 
or work their horses continually with shoes which must 
have tasked the abilities of their blacksmiths to fabricate 
in less than an hour, and have required more than three 


or four times the quantity of iron that the Gallic or British 
shoe did. Though not an equestrian nation, we must 
give the Romans credit for common sense. As for their 
working their horses all day without any foot-cover, and 
applying these at night when they were not required, the 
idea is perfectly absurd. This is admitting that these 
articles were really intended to be attached to horses' feet ; 
and that, though nail-shoeing was well known, and its 
efficacy and simplicity were recognized, the Romans, or 
the people among whom they were living, persisted in 
expending four times the weight of iron, twenty times the 
amount of labour, and a dozen times the quantity of 

But I cannot believe that these ' hippo-sandals ' were 
ever made for such a purpose. Extremely few horses, if 
any, could travel with those of the first class on roads, in 
ascending or descending steep places, nor yet move at any 
speed. The projecting fastening behind, and the inside 
clip, as well as the insecurity and situation of the attach- 
ment, and the weight of the iron, all forbid this supposition. 

For the second and third classes, I need only say that 
horses could neither travel nor yet stand in them. With 
far more reason might we expect two or three ranks of 
soldiers to walk, run, and manoeuvre in close order with 
Canadian snow-shoes on their feet, than to see a horse 
walk, trot, and gallop with these so-called sandals. The 
majority of the second class could not be put on the 
hoofs, to begin with ; and none of the third class could, by 
any possibility, serve such a purpose. A glance at the 
shape of these will show this to be the fact. 

Besides, not one of those I have examined, though many 


appear to have been subjected to wear in other respects, 
show any marks of hoof ivear ; that is, still granting that 
they could be fastened to the extremity of the limb. It 
is well known that a horse's shoes, after being a short 
time subjected to use on hard ground, become rounded 
over at the toe, where the greatest amount of wear occurs ; 
also that the foot-surface, even with the shoe firmly nailed 
to the wall, becomes worn and channeled where any play 
or friction takes place. This is well seen in an old horse- 
shoe. No such evidences appear on the best-preserved 
of these so-called sandals. On the contrary, the upper 
surface of the sole is entirely free from traces of friction of 
any kind, and the under or ground- surface is usually most 
worn towards the middle, the extremities being sharp 
rather than rounded over. There is not the faintest trace 
of their having been worn at all by horses. No nation 
ever offered any contrivance so unsuited to the object to 
be attained as these so-called hippo-sandals, if we suppose 
them to have been intended for horses' feet. There is 
nothing at all reasonable in the supposition ; and in this 
opinion I find I am supported by MM. Delacroix and 
Q-uiquerez, antiquarians who have had abundant op- 
portunities of studying this matter, and have availed 
themselves of them. M. Quiquerez writes : 'The many 
excavations made by us in the Roman villas, camps, 
and castles of the Bernese Jura have never afforded us 
any of these calcece ferrece, or hippo-sandals, with which 
people would like to shoe the feet of Roman horses. 
But we have seen plenty of these articles, without being 
able to comprehend how a horse, starting at a gallop 
on an uneven road, could, for an instant even, carry 


such a chaussure. Always, however, out of respect for 
the opinion of others, we have never cast a doubt on the 
use of the socks for the Roman horses, because their em- 
ployment for this purpose may have been one of those 
unfortunate essays of their military chiefs. Elsewhere in 
Switzerland, so few of these strap-shoes {Jers a courroies) 
have been found, that it appears probable such a mode of 
shoeing, if it did exist, was for but a brief period. On 
the contrary, it is our conviction that long before the 
arrival of the Romans among the Gauls, the Sequanias, 
Helvetia, and Rouraks, in the vicinity of the Jura moun- 
tains, shod their horses as we now do. The almost total 
absence of calcece ferrece in our districts confirms this 
opinion ; which is, it is true, in disaccord with that of 
some arch^ologists, who only introduce nail-shoeing in 
the Roman armies towards the loth century of our era, 
and as an importation by the nations of the North.' ' 

And M. Delacroix, when describing the shoes found 
in Besanqon, makes a similar protest against these articles 
being designated hippo-sandals. ' Modern science, in the 
face of ancient authors mentioning horse-shoes, thinks it 
ought to consider as such the objects whose use is as yet 
unknown, which are found in ancient roadways, and to 
which it has been imagined to give the name of hippo- 
sandals. The figure of some hippo-sandals might, justly 
or unjustly, have authorized such an explanation of their 
use ; the collection of a tolerably large number of these 
articles, however, dispels the illusion. There are in the 
Archaeological Museum of Besanqon hippo-sandals pro- 
vided with long hooks before and behind, and even on 
' Mem. de la Soc. d'Emulation du Doubs, p. 132, 1863. 


the sides. A horse furnished with such a chaussure could 
not walk four steps without mutilating himself and falling. 
What is more, we have hippo-sandals the two flanks of 
which are united above, and which could never make a 
shoe for a horse, even if the animal were standing still. 

When we see the same ground containing 

hippo-sandals and nailed shoes, it must be evident that the 
first were not destined for the feet of horses. It has been 
said that at least they might be employed for horses' feet 
in a bad condition ; but besides the impossibility of using 
many of them for any such purpose, and which is obvious 
enough, we have discovered in our excavations a shoe 
intended for a diseased foot, one of the branches of which 
has been enlarged to an extraordinary degree, so as to 
cover one-half of the sole.' 

Veterinary surgeon Duplessis, of the French artillery, 
likewise announces his disapprov^al of the name and the 
use given to these contrivances. Referring to the opinions 
of the Abbe Cochet and M. Megnin, he says : ' These 
gentlemen justly deny the possibility of these strangely 
formed bits of irons ever having been placed under horses' 
feet. I am of their opinion, for everything is opposed to 
such an admission. The lightness and freedom required 
for rapid paces would prevent their employment in this 
way, as well as the impossibility of fixing on a round flat 
foot a heavy ill-balanced machine like this. The example 
afforded by all the human foot-covers would show them 
(the Romans) that it was at least indispensable that it 
should resemble in shape the plantar surface of the 
foot.' • 

' Journal de Med. Vet. Militaire, vol. iv. p. 163. 


M. Delacroix,' since the publication of his opinion 
adverse to these instruments being horse-sandals, has sud- 
denly come to the conclusion that they are ox-sandals. 
' The number of these articles in the Besanqon Museum 
has actually increased to thirty. They affect various 
shapes, but yet retain a single and common feature — that 
of an iron plate worn beneath by friction. This character 
was so striking, that, among others, one of our able con- 
freres who superintends the arch^ological museum of the 
town, was looking out every day for some proof as to the 
use of these hippo-sandals. One of these objects was at 
last brought to him, having two wings bent over towards 
each other (fig. 128), in an acute arch, and exactly repre- 
senting the foot of an ox to which it had been moulded 
by the hammer and wear. There could be no doubt 
about it; M. Vuilleret had in his hands a shoe adapted 
for the bovine species ; he had solved the problem. I 
carried this article to the farriers' shops in the suburbs, 
where oxen are usually shod, although after a different 
fashion. " This," said a workman at the first glance, " is 
a bullock's shoe." "This object," the farmers present 
generally assented, " could not be worn by an ox at work 
or at pasture ; it would confine their movements too 
much. But if a convoy of oxen or cows was sent along 
the roads, it might be of the greatest utility ; for there is 
always in a travelling drove animals whose feet are 
wounded, and for whom it is necessary to have recourse 
to temporary shoeing." This last explanation put us on 
the alert in comprehending the diversity in shape of 
the specimens in the museum ; and M. Vuilleret was not 
'Mem. de la Soc. d'Emulation du Doubs, p. 143, 1864. 


long in showing us shoes made for the single claw of the 
ox (fig. 129), and yet belonging to this class of pretended 

hippo-sandals whose name it behoves us to rectify 

it should be bu-sandal.' It appears to have been 

forgotten that a bisulcus or cloven-footed animal cannot 
travel easily with its digits restrained by a solid plate with 
two iron bands compressing them on each side. And we 
may ask if the experiment was tried of making oxen walk 
for a mile or two with any of these Besan(^on specimens ? 
None of those I have examined would fit the foot of an 
ox, and there is no reason to suppose that they were ever 
used for that purpose by the Romans. I have already 
noted that tips of iron, conjectured to have armed the 
feet of cattle, were recently found at Pompeii. Until I 
have inspected these articles, or seen drawings of them, I 
cannot decide as to their having been so employed, though 
I think it improbable, as Cato the Censor (b.c. 160) speaks 
of the application of liquid pitch to the under surface of 
the hoofs of oxen to preserve them from wear, as is now 
done in the East with the feet of elephants and camels : 
' Boves ne pedes subterant, priusquam in viam quoquam 
ages, pice liquidam cornua infima unguito.' ' 

It will then, I think, be admitted that these strange- 
looking iron plates are not horse, mule, or ox sandals, and 
that they could not be employed as such. The form and 
situation of the clips and hooks alone forbid such a sup- 
position, and the Romans v/ould indeed deserve to be 
classed among the most clumsy of all contrivers if they 
ever attempted to put such a garniture on their horses', 
mules', or oxen's feet, even supposing they were ignorant 
" De Re Rustica, cap. 72. 


of nail-shoeing, which at the time these were made it ap- 
pears they were not. 

If not supports for lamps, ancient stirrups, sandals for 
sound or diseased feet, or iron socks for wearing at night 
while the horses were resting, what then are they ? The 
first one I saw in the British Museum — belonging to the 
second class — suggested its probable use. Was it not a 
skid or drag {sabot or enrayeur) to put under the wheel 
of a carriage to moderate its descent on steep places ? 
This appeared to me a very likely supposition. It is well 
known that the Romans employed such instruments for 
their vehicles, and they are often mentioned in their real, 
as well as in a figurative, sense, by the designation of 
'sufflamen.' For instance, Juvenal, in the ist century, 
in his eighth satire (148), writes: 

Ipse rotam astringit multo sufflamine Consul. 

And in his sixteenth satire (50) he also alludes to it: 

Nee res atteritur longo sufflamine litis. 

Seneca, also in the ist century, speaks of the 'rota suf- 
flaminanda ;' and Prudentius in the fourth century (Psych. 
417), notices it : 

Tardat sufflamine currum. 
Gruter, in his collection of Ancient Inscriptions (1803) 
gives the following reference to it : ' Fontium aquarumque 
coelestium ex montibus delabentium torrenti sufflamen 
his muris fossaque opposuit, et ad plana perduxit.' 

Ainsworth, in his Latin Dictionary, explains the mean- 
ing of the designation : Sufflamen. Sufflo, machinae genus, 
quo in descendu vel procursu nimio tota solet sufflari, i. e., 
retineri. And another classical dictionary explains it as 


'lignum illud, quo per radios rotarum trajecto ; vel fer- 
reum instrumentum in modum solece formatum, quo subter 
notag unius canthum supposito, currus in declivdbus locis 
nimio impetu ruentes cohibentur : illud Itali stanga, hoc 
Scarpa vocant. 

There can be no doubt, then, as to the Romans 
possessing such an instrument to facilitate the travelling of 
their carriages ; but I do not remember any mention 
being made as to their discovery anywhere ; and in all 
likelihood we have them here. I am aware that in a 
sepulchral bas-relief found at Langres, representing, among 
other objects, a cart drawn by three horses, two chains are 
seen attached to the body of the carriage, and in front of 
the hind wheel, one with a ring, the other with a hook at 
the end to lock round the felloe between two of the spokes, 
and make a fetter for the wheel. So says Mr Rich ; but 
this kind of contrivance would, one is inclined to think, 
be of as limited application in the Romano-Gallic days as 
now. It is a most expensive way of staying the velocity 
of a carriage. The shape of the supposed sandals presents 
but little difference from that of the skid or wheel-shoe ot 
now-a-days, except, perhaps, in length. 

The drawing of one of those attached to the waggons 
of the Military Train will make this manifest (fig. 137). 

fig- 137 


The resemblance to some of the ' sandals ' of the first and 
second classes is very striking, particularly those figured 
by Professor Defays ; that by M. Namur, found at Dal- 
heim (fig. 114); that in the Cluny Museum ; the one 
found at Serupt in 1846, and the specimen in the Besan- 
qon Museum. Some allowance must be made for the 
very large diameter of the modern wheels, which neces- 
sitates a longer shoe (though the London carriages ofi:er a 
great many varieties as to form and length in these 
articles), but the sole of the one here represented measures 
about three inches across between the clips — the width of 
several of the sandals. The Roman wheels of small 
diameter and coarse workmanship would vary much in 
the thickness of the felloes and width of the hoops, which 
will readily account for the irregular width of many of 
these so-called sandals, and also, perhaps, for their differ- 
ence in shape. The increased thickness of sole in the 
modern 'suffiamen' is rendered necessary by the much 
greater weight of the waggons and the loads they are in- 
tended to carry ; but the abundance of material, and the 
facility with which our Vulcans can forge large masses of 
iron, makes this of little consequence, compared with the 
difficulties the blacksmiths of eighteen centuries ago had 
to contend with. It will be observed that this wheel- 
sandal has an eyelet at each end, like the horse-sandal of 
the second and third classes, for the attachment of a chain 
whAfih fastens it to the body of the vehicle. One of them 
is higher "^bttu L^lhe other, and is the one to which the 
chain is usually attac^^ed ; its elevation is intended to 
throw the stress of wear orf-^the middle of the sole, exactly 
as it is in the solecE ferrece. " The two clips on each side 


are intended to give greater security to the lodgment of 
the wheel, though, for that matter, with a smaller wheel, one 
central clip on each side, as in the first-class sandal, would 
suffice, especially if the sole diminished in width, as it does 
in that, towards the hook, which would wedge the wheel 
in more tightly. The longitudinal aperture at the upper 
end of each of the posterior clips is intended for the ad- 
mission of a leather strap, which, passing across the wheel 
as it lies in the skid, prevents its jumping out when 
traversing broken ground. The hooks on each side of 
-the first and second class sandals reveal a similar intention, 
and the union of the lateral clips in the third class may 
be also attributed to an attempt at simplicity in this 
direction. The analogy between the Roman sandal found 
at Dalheim (fig. 114) and this modern specimen is very 
marked ; so much so, indeed, that their being intended 
for the sam.e purpose can scarcely be doubted ; one thing 
is certain, that no horse could journey a yard with the 
Military-Train specimen ; and we have yet to learn that 
the horses of Gaul, Germany, or Britain, during the Ro- 
man period, could travel in any other fashion than the 
horses of our own days. I have tried the two articles 
found at Springhead on several horses, but out of the 
number of many-sized hoofs experimented on, I could 
not find one to fit either of the hippo-sandals. The re- 
semblance of the larger specimen to a skid struck several 
casual observers, who were not at all aware of their history 
or the functions imputed to them. Among others, I may 
mention Col. Tilley, of the Royal Engineers, who ex- 
claimed, the first glance he got of it in my hand, ' Hilloa ! 
what have you got there ? An old skid ? ' 


I only make the suggestion that these articles may- 
have been employed for this purpose, from finding myself 
unable to believe that they were worn by domesticated 
animals ; the third type is certainly opposed to my opinion, 
but then it may not have been put to the same use as the 









From the preceding inquiry, we are led to conclude 
that the Celts, or Gallo-Celts, were the people who most 
anciently employed nailed iron-shoes for their horses' 
feet ; but we are yet left to determine the probable date 
of this invention — an investigation surrounded with many 


It is recognized, however, by means of the proofs 
furnished by archaeological and philological researches, 
that the different races of mankind which have succeeded 
one another in Europe have exhibited a constant pro- 
gression, not only in physical development, but also in 
intelligence and in the aptitude to practise various in- 
dustries and arts. The remains found in many regions 
exhibit this gradual advancement, until, from a state 
which appears that of savagedom, we arrive at a period 
when domestic animals are kept, and a knowledge of 
metallurgy is obvious. It is only, however, when we 
come to the epoch of the early migrations of the Aryan 
or Indo-Germanic races, that we find substantial traces of 
the employment of metals. The most important of these 
migrations, that of the Cimbri, who, with the Gauls, 
founded the Celtic race some eighteen hundred years 
before our era, and introduced Druidism into Gaul, 
when it reached Europe knew no other metals than gold, 
copper, tin, and the combination of the last two — brass. 
A study of Sanscrit, the mother-tongue of all these Aryan 
peoples, shows this to have been the case. The working 
in iron, or the 'IronAge,' even with some civilized peoples, 
did not occur until a comparatively recent time. Lucretius 
admits that gold and brass were known before iron : 

Sed prius aeris erat quam ferri cognitus usus. 

As no other migration of any importance occurred until 
that of the hordes who destroyed the Roman empire, and 
as we have seen that iron was worked by the Gauls long 
before the Christian era, it is between the period when 
the Gallo-Cimbri arrived, and the conquest of Gaul by 


Julius Caesar, that the utilization of iron may be placed. 
Archaeologists are tolerably unanimous in fixing what 
has been designated the ' Stone Period,' at from five to 
seven thousand years ; the 'Age of Bronze ' at from three 
to four thousand years; and the 'Iron Age' at one 
thousand years before our era. This last period, though 
to many its commencement is shrouded in darkness, has 
been pretty accurately determined by Swiss geologists, 
who have based their calculations on the annual deposi- 
tions produced by the torrent of Teniere, near Ville- 
neuve, on the Lake of Geneva, and which cover the 
most ancient human habitations containing iron that 
have yet been explored.' These calculations have been 
further supported by the very interesting discovery made 
at Halstatt, in Austria, where more than nine hundred 
graves of the people who in old times laboured in the 
salt-mines there, were found. These contained, besides 
large clay vases, glass ornaments, cinctures, metal slings, 
swords, knives, lance-heads, and hatchets in bronze, similar 
to the objects met with in the pre-Roman, Helvetic, and 
Bisontine tombs. The same forms were reproduced in 
iron ; so that it may be said this metal was abundant 
with these people. Taking into account the complete 
absence of lead and silver among these articles, — metals 
which were largely employed during the reign of Philip 
of Macedonia, four hundred years before the Christian 
era, — M. Fournet estimates that the people who rest in 
the tombs of Halstatt lived at the commencement of the 
iron age, very likely between b.c. iooo and 500. Its 
duration is marked by well-known historical events, and 
' Fournet. Le Mineur. 


it only ends with the gradual spread of Christian civil- 

Numerous traces of iron-mining in these distant ages 
yet exist in the Swiss and Jura Alps, Burgundy, and the 
Pyrenees, In the latter mountains, the refuse of these 
mines yet remain as when formed. The so-called cras- 
siers, or ancient depots of iron scoriae, are found in the 
vicinity of Digoin ; they abound near Perigueux, at Royan 
(Drome), Pont-Gibaud (Auvergne), between Hyeres and 
Toulon, and on Mount Cenis, at 1800 metres elevation. 
There were then forests where to-day there are glaciers. 
On the rich strata of Thortes and Beauregard (Cote d'Or), 
M. Guillebot de Merville noted the existence of seventy 
or eighty fragments of scorise of Gallo-Roman iron, the 
age of which is perfectly characterized by the peculiar 
tiles and the debris of every kind accompanying them.' 

The remains of the Celtic furnaces M. Quiquerez 
discovered in the Jura are identical with, though much 
smaller than, the Catalan furnaces now at work in Ariege, 
Carinthia, and Dalecarlia. 

In Carinthia, this is the primitive mode, according to 
Malot, by which the iron is extracted from the ore : As 
soon as a sufficient quantity of live coal has been accumu- 
lated in the pit, portions of very pure mineral are spread 
over it, then a layer of coal, then mineral, layer after 
layer, until it is judged that the ore is sufficiently re- 
duced, when the fire is extinguished, and some scraps of 
iron are found among the cinders. In Dalecarlia, the 
method is the same, only the pit is larger and encircled 
by a circular stone wall/ 

' ' Fonrnet. Op. cit. ' Gmelin. Metallurgie du Fer. 


The Celts in Britain must also, long before the arrival 
of Caesar, have smelted quantities of iron, wherewith to 
make their arms and utensils. Instead of money, they 
even used pieces of brass or iron reduced to certain 

Traces of ancient iron-works are numerous in many 
parts of Britain ; and, from appearances, this metal was 
smelted as above. Roman remains occur very frequently 
among the slag or cinders ; but it is not unlikely the 
primitive inhabitants worked these mines before the 
arrival of the Romans. 

Brennus and his Gaulish army at the capture of Rome, 
and the Helvetians at the conquest of Switzerland, were 
armed with iron swords, while the Romans yet wielded 
weapons of bronze. The Cimbri, defeated by Marius 
two hundred years before the birth of our Saviour, were 
covered with steel cuirasses. 

' The arms of the Helvetians who took possession of 
Switzerland,' says M. Fournet, 'were identical with those 
worn by Brennus's soldiers during the occupation of 
Rome. They had long iron sabres, without point, and 
with very large handles ; their lances had blades twenty 
inches long.' ' The Cimbric cavaliers who came from the 
Pont-Euxine to invade Gaul, about the time of the 
arrival of the Phoceans, wore steel cuirasses when they 
were defeated by Marius.' ' The iron of Norica, as well 
as that of Celtiberia, was in great esteem with the Romans 
for swords.' 

' Caesar. Bell. Gall. lib. v. cap. 10. ' Utuntur aut aere aut tallis 
ferreis ad certum pondus examiiiatis pro nummo.' 



'If, then,' says M. Megnin,' 'we place the invention 
of horse-shoeing about the fifth or sixth century before 
our era — that is, at the period when Druidism was most 
flourishing — we only follow the indications furnished by 
the Celtic roads, and we remain within very probable 
limits. The Druids, taught the structure of the horse's 
foot by the numerous sacrifices they made of this animal, 
accustomed to the manipulation of metals, and their in- 
telligence continually cultivated by study, were marvel- 
lously disposed to be the inventors of shoeing by nails. 
When we also look at the rational form they gave to 
their work — how wisely they placed the nail-holes, and 
how skilfully they made the nail-heads to form so many 
catches to assist travelling in rocky and mountainous 
regions — one cannot but be astonished at the perfection 
which the sacred smiths had attained in defending and 
assisting nature two thousand years ago.' 

' The Druids,' writes Galtruch,^ ' encouraged the study 
of anatomy; but they carried it on to such an excess, and 
so much beyond all reason and humanity, that one of 
them, called Herophilus, is said to have read lectures on 
the bodies of more than 700 living men, to show therein 
the secrets and wonders of the human fabric' 

The discoveries in the tombs of Alesia and in the 
vicinity of Besanqon, furnish us with such undoubted 
testimony to the antiquity of shoeing, that a high authority 
in France, who had assisted in these researches, declared, 
' after these evidences I have no fear in asserting that 
from the time of the conquest of Gaul by the Romans, 

' Op. cit. p. 31. ' Poetical History. 


many Celtic peoples, at any rate all the Gauls, knew the 
art of horse-shoeing.' ' 

Legends are generally good evidence, says Mr Wright,^ 
of the great antiquity of the monuments to which they 
relate ; and there is a curious legend connected with this 
art, which lends additional force to the facts already 
enumerated, and is besides so general over a large part 
of Europe, and is of so great an age, that it looks as if 
it had belonged to the days of Druidism, and the in- 
fancy of horse-shoeing. This is the legend of Wayland 

The Vulcanian art was, we are told, so admired by the 
Greeks, that Xanthus, the smith, caused it to be inscribed 
upon his statue, that he was born of iron {(rt^ri^oi^ur^g, 
ferrogenitus) ; ^ and over their forges they had a prophy- 
lactic against envy, in the form of a phallus hung round 
with bells."* The anvil, hammer, and tongs, and Vulcan's 
cap wreathed with laurel, is not unfrequently met with on 
classical monuments, as the annexed illustration from 
Montfauqon will show (fig. 138). But the northern 
nations always associated something mys- 
terious with the functions and character 
of their Vulcan, whether in the fabrica- 
tion of arms or in shoeing their horses : 
reminding one of the secret arts of the 
Druids and their weird-like haunts. What 
makes the remembrance more vivid is, that the abode 
of this cunning, but awesome, personage, was always sup- 

' Moniteur Uuiversel, 1862. 

- The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon. 

3 Pollux, vii. 24. " BuaKaria. ibid. vii. 24, x. 31. 


posed to be in a cave, cairn, or cromlech, such as that 
on the promontory of Alesia. 

The early Saxons believ^ed that a cromlech in Berk- 
shire was a workshop of the mythic smith ; the monument 
at Ashbury, in the Vale of White Horse, was called 
' Weland's Smiththan,' or smithy, which in time became 
corrupted to Wayland Smith's cave. The great defeat 
given by Alfred to the Danish invaders, is said, by Mr 
Gough, to have taken place near Ashdown, in Berkshire. 
The burial-place of Baereg, the Danish chief, who was 
slain in this fight, is distinguished by a parcel of stones, 
less than a mile from the hill, set on edge, enclosing a 
piece of ground somewhat raised. On the east side of 
the southern extremity, stand three squarish flat stones, 
of about four or five feet over either way, supporting a 
fourth, and now called by the vulgar, Wayland Smith, 
from an idle tradition about an invisible smith replacing 
lost horse-shoes there. ' ' The popular belief still clings 
to this wild legend,' adds Sir Walter Scott, ' which, con- 
nected as it is with the site of a Danish (?) sepulchre, 
may have arisen from some legend concerning the northern 
Duergars, who resided in the rocks, and were cunning 
workers in steel and iron. It was believed that Wayland 
Smith's fee was sixpence, and that, unlike other workmen, 
he was offended if more was offered. This monument 
must be very ancient, for it has been kindly pointed out 
to me that it is referred to in an ancient Saxon charter, 
as a landmark.' ^ 

With regard to placing a piece of money on the 

' Camden. Britannia, vol. i. p. 221. Edit. Gough. 
= Scott. Kenilworth. Note B. 


stone, we find it is still a practice among the peasantry at 
Colombiers, in France, for young girls who want hus- 
bands, to climb upon the cromlech called the Pierre-levee, 
place there a piece of money, and then jum.p down. At 
Guerande, with the same object, they deposit in the 
crevices of a Celtic monument bits of rose-coloured wool 
tied with tinsel/ 

' Cromlech,' however, really means Druid's altar. The 
Celtic mythology, amongst others, had Esus or Crom, who 
was the creator of the world, and was represented by a circle 
of stones, an emblem of the infinite. From this name was 
derived ' Cromlech ' or Crom-lekh.^ Mr Davies thinks 
that the spaces under the cromlechs were used as the places 
where aspirants to the office of Druid were imprisoned 
during, or previous to, their initiation into the mysteries of 
this religion. 'This opinion,' says Mr Roberts,^ 'seems to 
be confirmed by the name of a cell near the Ridgeway 
and the White Horse, in Uffington parish. It is called 
Wayland Smith, a corruption, I presume, of a Welsh 
name " Gwely," or " Wely-anesmwyth," that is, the uneasy 
bed. I know of no more probable origin of the name, 
and this explanation bears with it a signification of no 
small moment, as to the use to which it was probably 
applied. In Cardiganshire (Wales) there is a kind of 
cist-vaen called " Gwely Taliesin," which no doubt was 
intended for a similar purpose.' 

Mallet,"^ we know, asserts that the tradition relating to 

' IVright. The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon. 
^ H. Martin. Hist, de France, vol. iii. p. 58. 
3 Popular Antiquities of Wales, p. 45. 
'' Northern Antiquities. Note. 


this mysterious blacksmith is of Northern origin. In 
Scandinavian mythology, the Volundar-Koi^a recounts the 
tragic adventures of Volundr, who was the Daedalus of 
the North, and one of its mythical heroes. The same 
high authority shows that the root of the word, which is 
Anglo-Saxon, is IVealand, JFelond, or fVeland, in German 
Wielant, and is the Velint of the Vilkina-Saga, is derived 
from the Norse /^e/, skill, art, craft, or cunning, and the 
old German IVielan, Anglo-Saxon IVelan, to fabricate, 
the participle of which would be JVielant and TVeland. 
The word, therefore, according to Mr Mallet, denotes a 
skilful artificer, in which sense it is still employed by the 
people of Iceland, who say ' Hann er volundr a Jam,' 
' He is a famous smith or workman in iron ; ' and a 
labyrinth with them is a Wayland house. 

' It is in the Icelandic Sagas,' remarks Depping and 
Michel,' 'that Veland is the subject of long romantic 
fictions, and the story regarding him forms one of the 
oldest fragments of this poetical literature. It has been 
attempted to trace the romance to a historical period, — 
to the reign of King Nidung, who appears to have lived 
in Sweden in the 6th century of our era, and who is 
reported to have been the protector of the smith. But 
there is nothing historical in this, and if on the one hand 
such has been claimed for it, on the other hand it is as 
likely to belong to Scandinavian mythology.' 

We must not forget that the Teutonic word ' Welsh,' 
' Wilisc,' or ' Waslisc,' was the term for stranger or 
foreigner, and that France was called by the old and 
mediaeval Germans ' Das Welsche lant ; ' while the 

' Le Forgeron Velantl. Paris, 1833 


designation ' Wiilsch ' was applied in its primitive sense 
by the Saxons to the Britons. 'Wilisc' is often met 
with in the Anglo-Saxon laws, and denotes the Welsh. 
Might not the Druid blacksmith be designated by the 
ancient Germans, as the foreign or strange-land smith — 
Welsch-lant-Schmid ? The slight change in the pro- 
nunciation might readily occur in a short period. 

It maybe mentioned, however, that Langley Mortier' 
concludes that the name ' Gallia ' was derived from JVal, 
happy, and Land, country: ' Walland' being the designa- 
tion given to their territory by the Gauls. 

This mysterious smith, it would appear, was no other 
than the traditionary armourer and farrier of the Celts 
and Gauls, as well as of the German and Northern 
nations. ' The sacred blacksmith, such as Wayland,' 
remarks M. Castan, ' not only fashioned the weapons, but 
he also shod the horses of the heroes.' * 

At Winchester, or Silchester, we are told in the 
* Morte d' Arthur,' was a large stone, and ' in the myddes 
therof was lyk an anvyld of steel a fFote of hyght, and 
therein stake a fayre sword,' which only the heir to the 
sovereignty of Britain could draw; a feat performed by 
Arthur.3 This romance-invested prince was King of the 
Silures, an ancient British tribe inhabiting the modern 
counties of Hereford, Radnor, Brecknock, and Glamor- 
gan, and fought most heroically against the Saxons, 
Scots, and Picts, after the departure of the Romans. The 

' Etymologies Gauloises. ^ Les Tombelles Celtiques d'Alaise. 

3 With the Mongols, the anvil of Genghis Khan is still preserved 
on Mount Darkan. It is made of a particular metal called ' Bouryn,' 
says the tradition, which has the properties of iron and copper, being at 
once hard and flexible. — Tinikou'sk'i. Op. cit., vol. i. p. 173. 


sword found with the anvil of steel, he afterwards wielded 
with terrible effect against his enemies ; it was named 
' caledvwlch ' (the hard cleft), or ' caliburn ' (well-tem- 
pered or massive)/ This weapon was no doubt fabricated 
by Weland. 

In the metres composed by King Alfred on the ' Con- 
solations of Boethius,' the learned monarch asks, 

Who then can tell, wise Weland's (pelan^e3) bones 

Where now they rest so long ? 
Beneath what heap of earth and stones 

Their prison is made strong ? 

A direct testimony to the great age of this tradition. 
And in the Anglo-Saxon poem on Beowulf, that chief, 
before going to battle, requests that there should be 
sent to Higelac, 

My garments of battle. 
The best that my bosom bears. 
The richest of my clothes. 
The remains of the Hred-lan, 
The work of Weland. 

In some fragments of an old Anglo-Saxon manuscript, 
published by Professor Stephens, we find this ancient 
worker in metals and shoer of horses mentioned in a com- 
plimentary manner as a maker of sharp swords. ' The 
Wieland (pelanS) work will fail no man, who kenneth to 
wield biting Mimming.' This, we may be sure, was an- 
other of his celebrated blades. 

In a French poem, conjectured to be of the 7th 
century, Weyland is supposed to be mentioned for the 
first time, when it is said that the cuirass made by Veland 
could not defend the hero Randolph from death. 

' The Chronicle of Tysilio. 


Gautier de Vascastein, in the legend ' De Prima Ex- 
peditione Attilae regis Hunorum, in Gallias/ is said to 
have carried arms fabricated by Veland. 

A chronicle of the 12th century relates that Count 
William of Angouleme received the cognomen of ' Taille- 
fer/ in consequence of his sword, which had been made 
by ' Walander,' having cut in two a warrior covered with 
armour." The name of the sword was ' durissima.' This 
Count William was the renowned minstrel Taillefer, who 
struck the first blow at the battle of Hastings, and who is 
described by his countryman Wace, in the following cen- 
tury, as having dashed on horseback into the ranks of 
the Saxons to meet a glorious death, while singing of 

De Karlemaigne et de Rollant, 
E d' Oliver, et des Vassals, 
Cy morurent en Roncesvals. 

It is related of GeofFroy Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, 
* Adultimum allatus est ei, ensis thesauro regio ab anti- 
quo ibidem signatus, in quo fabricando fabrorum super- 
latum Galanus multa opera et studio desudavit.'^ 

In an English romance of the 14th century, it is said, 
in reference to a sword, ' Of all swerdes it is king, and 
Weland it wrought.' Godefroy of Strasbourg, in his 
poem of ' Tristan and Isolde,' speaks of the smith as 
' Vilint.' 

In Scandinavia, the strange personage is well known, 
and the legends concerning him differ but little from 

' Adhemar. Chronic MS. 

"^ Hist. Gaufredi Ducis Norman. Recueil des Hist, de France. 
See also C. Depping. De la Tradition Populaire sur TArmurier ou 
Forgeron Veland. Mem. de la Soc. des Antiquaires de France. 


those of other countries.' His fame as a remarkably- 
competent shoer of horses is not less than his reputation 
as a forger of swords. In England, as we have already 
seen, the popular notion gave him credit for secrecy and 
despatch in arming the hoofs of animals belonging to less 
courageous owners who ventured near his mystic abode. 
The pedantic Erasmus Holiday, in ' Kenilworth,' sums 
up his proficiency in this respect, when alluding to the 
strange apprenticeship Wayland served to Doctor Do- 
boobie, whom it was supposed the Evil One had flown 
away with. The Jctberjerrari us is thus spoken of: 'This 
knave, whether from the inspiration of the devil, or from 
early education, shoes horses better than e'er a man be- 
twixt us and Iceland ; and so he gives up his practice on 
the bipeds, the two-legged and unfledged species called 
mankind, and betakes him entirely to shoeing of horses.' 

In certain provinces of France at the present day, 
when a horse travels freely, they say, ' This horse goes as 
if he had been shod by " Vaillant."'^ As a proof that 
the smith with the Gauls, as with the Germans, shod the 
horses, while he fashioned and tempered the arms of the 
warriors, it has been observed, that not only do the shoes, 
weapons, and armour of an early period bear evident traces 
of fabrication by the same hands, but that they also 
carry a veritable maker's name struck upon each 

Gay, in his ' Trivia,' refers to the weird occupation of 
this traditionary artisan, — this symbolical personification 

' Saga Bibliotekj vol. ii. Kjobeuham^ 1816. 
' De Sourdeval. Journal de Haras, 1862, 
3 Mcgyiin. Op. cit. 



of the mystery attending the working of metals, particu- 
larly of iron, in primeval times : 

' Far in the lane a lonely hut he found. 
No tenant ventured on the unwholesome ground ; 
Here smokes his forge, he bares his sinewy arm. 
And early strokes the sounding anvil warm ; 
Around his shop the steely sparkles flew. 
As for the steed he shaped the bending shoe.' 

In Germany the same traditions are found, and have 
been handed down from the remotest times. The 
brothers Grimm have collected some of these from oral 
tradition; the following was found in the neighbour- 
hood of Mlinster. ' In the Detterberg, about three hours 
from Mlinster, in old times, lived a wild man named 
Grinken Schmidt (Grinken the smith), who lived under- 
ground in a deep cave, which is now covered with weeds 
and briars ; but the spot may yet be seen. He had his 
forge in this pit, and his workmanship was so solid and so 
extremely perfect that it lasted for ever. No man could 
open his locks without the keys. There is now on the 
church-door of Nienberg, a lock made by him, that the 
thieves and housebreakers have never been able to force. 
When there was a wedding about to be celebrated, it was 
customary for the country people to go to Grinken and 
borrow a spit ; but in return for the loan, they had always 
to give him a beefsteak. One day a peasant appeared 
before his cave, and said, " Grinken Schmidt, give me a 
spit." " You shall not have a spit if you do not give me 
a steak," says Grinken. " Then you will not have a steak ; 
so keep your spit," replied the peasant. Grinken, as 
furious as possible, thereupon said, " Take care that I do 
not take one from you by force." The peasant left the 


mountain, and returned home. He then saw, on enter- 
ing his stable, that his best horse had a gash in its thigh : 
this provided the stake for Grinken Schmidt.'' 

It is curious to note the different notions entertained 
with regard to the sons of Vulcan — the proteges of Saint 
Eloy. In some countries they are looked upon with 
strange dread ; while in others, their handicraft confers on 
them dignity and special privileges. In Norway, handi- 
craftsmen were known at a very remote period, and were 
divided into classes ; the smith was the most reputable in- 
dividual, and associated or was on an equality with the 
freemen. Among the Gauls and the Welsh we have seen 
they held high office ; but it is questionable if, at first, 
they did so to the same degree among the Anglo-Saxons. 
The Druids felt the decline of their influence, and ex- 
perienced the persecutions of the Teutonic invaders ; 
their rites had to be carried on in the greatest secrecy 
and fear, and their business was transacted in a hidden 
manner, while their utmost caution was required to elude 
observation. King Lear's idea of shoeing a troop of 
horse withfelf^ may have been derived from the extreme 
circumspection the Druidical priests, towards the de- 
crease of their power, were compelled to adopt ; and the 
spread of Christianity, so burdened with gross super- 
stitions, no doubt invested the traces of these rites with 
everything of a repulsive and extraordinary nature. 
Hence, perhaps, the tradition of Wayland Smith. 

Even at a later day, blacksmiths, who, from the im- 

' Deutsche Mythologie. 
* ' It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe 

A troop of horse with felt.' Act iv., scene 6. 


portance of their occupation, were very numerous in some 
parts of England, were not exempt from Christian (?) 
priestly malediction. The ancient town of Alauna (now 
Alcester), in Warwickshire, was at an early period famed 
for its smiths and its forges. Saint Egwin, Capgrave tells 
us,' reported that the inhabitants of this town were an 
arrogant and luxurious race, and were chiefly workers in 
iron. The founder of Evesham preached to them, to save 
them from eternal perdition ; but the grimy blacksmiths 
were either too busy to listen, or cared but little to hear 
the miracle-working saint. So that, as he imagined, when 
he attempted to speak, in contempt of his doctrine, they 
thumped with their hammers upon the anvils, and made 
a great noise. Then this good man, full of love and 
mercy for his species, addressed a prayer to Heaven that 
the workers in iron might be destroyed : — ' Contra artem 
fabrilem castri illius dominum imprecatus est.' And the 
town was immediately destroyed: ' Et ecce subito reaedi- 
ficato usque in hodierum diem in constructione novarum 
domorum in fundamentis antiqua asdificia reperiuntur. 
Nunquam enim postea in loco illo aliquis artem fabrilem 
recte exercuit, nee aliquis earn exercere volens ibi vigere 

But Saint Egwin appears to have been an exception 
to the priests of his age ; for many of them were skilled 
workers in metals, and even shoers of hoofs ; and they 
would have been far more likely to give the anvil-ringing 
burn-the-winds of Alcester, a hint for some new feat in 
metallurgy, than dooming them and their glowing forges 
to destruction. 

' Nova Legenda Anglifle. The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon, p. 139. 


In Ireland, so long the stronghold of everything Celtic, 
the monks appear to have been clever workmen, and to 
have excelled in smithery. In Andamannus ' Life of St 
Columba, a holy man who lived in the 6th century, there 
is mention made of one Columbus, a noted faber Jen-arius, 
who dwelt in the centre of Ireland {mediterranea scotice). 
The notice of him is contained in a chapter ' Concerning 
an Apparition of Angels which a man of God had seen 
bearing to Heaven a certain soul, by name Columbus, a 
" fabri ferrarii," who was known by the cognomen of 
Coilriginus.' St Columba, who had fixed his abode in 
the island of lona, hearing of the death of his colleague, 
gathered his priests around him and said : ' Columbus 
Coilriginus the smith {faber ferrarius) hath not laboured 
in vain, for he hath reached eternal happiness and life by 
the work of his hands {propria mamim /aboratione), and 
now his soul is being borne by angels to the celestial 
country. For whatever he acquired by the practice of his 
trade he spent in works of charity.' ' From the mention 
of this monk's occupation and the immortality he derived 
from it, we may suppose him to be the Colum Zoba (Colum 
the Smith) commemorated in the calendars on June 7th. 
We also find that St Patrick (4th century) had three 
smiths, who duly appear in the same Irish calendar. ' St 
Dega, Bishop of Iniscaindega (now Iniskeen, Monaghan), 
derived his name of Dayg {hoc enim ywmen Scotica lingua 
magnam Jlammam sonat) from his employment in making 
' plurima de ferro et aere de auro atque argento utensilia 

' Vita Sancti Columbae. Auctore Andamnano. Lib. iii. cap. 9. 
Dublin, 1857. 

■ O' Donovan. Annals of the Four Masters. 


ad usum ecclesiae.' ' His day in the calendar is the i8th 
of August. 

Smithcraft was no doubt as important an occupation 
among the Anglo-Saxons as among the Gauls or Celts. 
Under the designation of ' isern-smithas/ — the Gothic or 
old German appellation introduced into England by the 
Anglo-Saxons, the grimy workman is frequently men- 
tioned in their records, and he appears, in time, to have 
been held in nearly as high honour as his congener at 
the ancient British court. Verstegan, referring to those 
who derived their surnames from their occupations, 
speaks of the origin of Smith : — 

' From whence came Smith, all be he knight or squire. 
But from the smith that forgeth at the fire ? ' 

Aldhelm"" is eloquent in describing the 'convenience 
of the anvil, the rigid hardness of the beating hammer, 
and the tenacity of the glowing tongs ;' and remarks that 
' the gem-bearing belts and diadems of kings, and the 
various instruments of glory, were made from the tools of 

In Elfric's colloquy, the smith says, in alluding to the 
multiplicity of objects he could make : ' Whence the 
share to the ploughman, or the goad, but for my art ? 
Whence to the fisherman an angle, or to the shoe- 
wyrhta (shoemaker) an awl, or to the sempstress a needle, 
but for my art ? ' And to this the other replies : ' Those 
in thy smithery only give iron fire-sparks, the noise of 
beating hammers, and blowing bellows.'^ 

' Act. SS. August, vol. iii. p. 659. 
' Aldhelm. De Laud. Virg. 298. 
^ MSS. Tiberias, A. 3. 



We have selected two representations of the Anglo- 
Saxon Vulcan from ancient manuscripts in the Cottonian 
library. The first (fig. 139) represents this worthy working 
at an anvil, which, it is proper to note, has no beak or horn. 
The hammer he wields is not unlike those in use at the 
present day. In the compartment adjoining him, but 

fig. 139 

fig. 140 

which is not shown here, was a harper, a combination 
that reminds us of the Welsh king's court, or the mul- 
tiple functions assumed by some of the Anglo-Saxon 
priests, who were musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and 
other handicraftsmen combined. The second figure 
(fig. 140) shows the 'isern-smithas' at work in a less 
ostentatious manner, and at a hearth like those of our own 
time. His apron is of the most meagre dimensions, and 
his naked legs must often have been tickled by the burning 
sparks. His hammer is curious, and may have been used 
in battering the heads of enemies as well as bars of iron ; 
for, according to Fabricius, ' the ancient Saxons had their 
shields suspended by chains, their horsemen used long 
iron sledge-hammers, and their armour was heavy.' Behind 


he iron plate that screens the fire is seen the gigantic 
aide, who appears to be engaged in blowing the bellows. 
He, too, is gaunt and unprotected about the lower limbs, 
though his brawny arms and hairy chest bespeak a man 
eminently fitted to perform the more physical portion of 
the labour. On the hearth, and partly concealed by the 
blazing fire, lies a piece of iron-work which looks not un- 
like the calkin of a horse-shoe. 

These are the earliest representations of the Anglo- 
Saxon farrier I can find, and they are certainly curious. 

In the royal household of the king's palace, we dis- 
cover a number of officers similar in rank and functions 
to those we have already indicated as attending the Court 
of British sovereigns or chiefs : these are the ' hors thegn,' 
or master of the horse, the ' ambiht-smith,' and the ' hors 
wealh.' The latter has been already noticed. The rank 
of the Court smith may be inferred from what is men- 
tioned in the laws of the Anglo-Saxon king, Athelbirht 
(6th century) : ' If the king's ambiht-smith slay a man, 
let him pay a half leod-geld (or wer-geld, compensation- 
money),' This was one-half the amount paid by ordinary 
individuals, and shows that this iron-worker was one of the 
privileged ' ministeriales ' of the Crown. 

In the laws of King Ine (7th and 8th centuries), we 
observe that the smith was still an important individual, 
and also attached himself to a lower class than the great 
nobles and kings. ' If a gesithcund-man (a somewhat 
similar rank to the leudes of the Franks and Visigoths) go 
away, then may he have his reeve (steward) with him, and 
his " smith," and his child's fosterer.' 

In the Saxoii Chronicle, the song on King Edgar's 



death designates the Anglo-Saxons as ^ the illustrious 
smiths of war!' The Dooms-day Book, though com- 
posed in the reign of the first Norman king of England, 
may be said, for our present purpose, to be Saxon : it 
often alludes to workers in iron. For instance, we find 
that in the City of Hereford there were six smiths, who 
paid one penny each for his forge, and who made one 
hundred and twenty pieces of iron from the king's ore. 
To each of them threepence was paid as a custom, and 
they were freed from all other services. It would appear 
that the iron-mines of England were well worked in Saxon 
times. Iron-ore was obtained in several counties, and 
there were furnaces for smelting. The mines of Glou- 
cestershire, in particular, are alluded to by Giraldus Cam- 
brensis as producing an abundance of this valuable metal ; 
and there is every reason for supposing that these mines 
were wrought by the Saxons, as they had been by their 
predecessors, the Romans.' 

The Anglo-Saxon monks were, as already hinted, like 
the Druid priests, skilful workers in iron, and the Venerable 
Bede describes one of these people as well skilled in 
smithcraft. Speaking of Easterwin, Abbot of Were- 
mouth, he says : ' This abbot, being a strong man, and 
of a humble disposition, used to assist his monks in their 
rural labours, sometimes guiding the plough by its stilt 
or handle, sometimes winnowing corn, and sometimes 
forging instruments of husbandry with a hammer upon 
the anvil.' "" 

King Edgar even enacted that the clergy should 

' Pictorial History of England, Bookii. chap. 6. 
* Hist. Abbat. Weremath., p. 296. 



pursue this and other crafts : ' We command that every 
priest, to increase knowledge, diligently learn some handi- 
craft.' ' 

The famed St Dunstan, the most proficient man of his 
age, and who lived in the loth century, among his other 
accomplishments, was a cunning worker in metals, and 
particularly iron. 

Glastonbury Abbey, where Arthur, the last of the British 
kings, had been buried, was, on the admission of the 
future abbot, principally filled by Celts or Scots from 
Ireland, who were at that time the most learned men. 
This abbey was famous throughout all the land for the 
ability of its monks, and a British population dwelt in the 
surrounding country. The usual austerities of a monastic 
life did not suffice for Dunstan in his earlier years, but, 
like a Druid, he gave himself up to a solitary existence, 
practising his skill in secret. He built a kind of Wayland 
Smith's cave by the side of the sacred edifice, in which he 
enclosed himself. This- cell or hole was only 5 feet in 
length and ^^ in width, and it barely rose 4 feet above the 
ground. The earth was excavated just enough to enable 
him to stand upright, though he could never lie down. His 
biographer (Osberne) was so puzzled with this strange re- 
treat that he knew not what to call it. Cells were commonly 
dug in an eminence or raised from the earth, but this was 
the earth itself excavated. Its only wall was its door, which 
covered the whole, and in this was a small aperture to admit 
light and air. In this sepulchre he abode, denying himself 
rest as well as needful food, fasting to the point of starva- 
tion, and constantly working at his forge when not engaged 
■ IFUhhis. Ibid. p. 83. 


in prayer. The hammer was always sounding, except when 
silenced by his orisons ; and here he imagined himself 
assailed by the Evil One. On a certain night all the 
neighbourhood was alarmed by the most terrific howlings, 
which seemed to issue from his den. In the morning the 
people flocked to him to inquire the cause. He told them 
that the devil had intruded his head into his window to 
tempt him while he was heating his iron-work ; that he 
had seized him by the nose with his red-hot tongs ; and 
that the noise was Satan's roaring at the pain ! ' 

The simple people are stated to have venerated the 
recluse for his amazing exploits with the enemy of man- 
kind ; and indeed he appears to have been as expert in 
fabricating tales as horse-shoes or other iron-work. 

That priests of the highest rank on the continent at a 
very early period shod horses, tradition abundantly testifies. 
Saint Eloy or Eloi, who lived in France in the 7th cen- 
tury, during the reign of Clotaire II., is frequently spoken 
of as a goldsmith ;^ but in mediaeval delineations he is most 
commonly represented shoeing solipeds. We have alluded 
to him elsewhere as a rather popular saint among horse- 
men during the Middle Ages. He has been the patron 
of the horse-shoer in nearly every country in Europe, and 

' S. Turner, F. Palgrave. Hist. Anglo-Saxons. This fable con- 
cerning the attacks of his Satanic Majesty on the crafty Dunstan, is 
paralleled by that sustained by St ^Benedict in the 6th century. That 
worthy was tempted by the devil, who appears to have been particularly 
addicted to trifle with the feelings of the mediaeval saints, in the form 
of a mulomedicus : 'ei antiquus hostis in mulomedici specie obviam 
factus est, cornu (to give the horses medicine) et tripedicam (an in- 
strument to bind horses' feet) ferens,' etc. — Vita St Benedicti, Mura- 
tori. Scrip. Rer. Ital., vol. iv. p. 223. 

' MicheleL Histoire de France, vol. i. p. 243, 1852. 



was the protector of animals not only in England, France, 
Italy, and Burgundy, but even in Germany we find that 
St Job and St Eloy were invoked in the incantations 
against the maladies of horses. 

One of the most curious representations of the patron 
saint of the farriers is that given in the frontispiece to 
this work. The original was a distemper painting, dis- 
covered on the north side of the eastern pier, between 
the nave and north transept of St Michael's church, 
Highworth, Wiltshire, during very recent restorations. 
This painting was unfortunately destroyed during the 
alterations, but not before a drawing of it was obtained. 
A copy of this, for which I am indebted to the Rev. Mr 
Bowden, the rector of the church, shows a chapel-like 
building, with forge apparently outside. To the left is 
the blazing fire, with the bellows behind, and hung round 
with shoes which have clumsy calkins, and only four 
nail-holes each ; while near it is perhaps a trough con- 
taining a lot of tongs. St Eloy, in his full array of 
church vestments, stands behind a peculiar anvil holding 
a shoeing hammer in his right hand, on the back of which 
is a curious mark, while the other has evidently grasped 
the leg of a horse, whose hoof rests on the anvil, and to 
this the Saint attaches the shoe. At the foot is seen the 
Ev'il One, who never appears to have been absent from 
the company of these holy men. 

The painting might be ascrioed to the 13th or 14th 
century, and had sustained rough treatment at some 
time ; parts of it having been rubbed oflf. A marble 
tablet, dated a.d. 1650, had been fastened over the centre 
of it. 


In the Library of Zurich, Switzerland, there is a 
painting belonging to the 14th or 15 th century, repre- 
senting St Antony of Padua and St Sebastian, with a 
farrier between them shoeing a vicious horse, one foot of 
which rests in his hand, perhaps in consequence of some 
magical spell induced by a witch who is present, and 
whose nose the farrier pinches in an enormous pair of 
tongs, as a punishment for her witchcraft. 

Travelling from the Anglo-Saxon period to other 
lands and recent times, we come to Abyssinia, where the 
trade of blacksmith is hereditary, and considered as more 
or less disgraceful, from the fact that blacksmiths are, 
with very rare exceptions, believed to be all sorcerers, and 
are opprobriously called ' Bouda.' They are supposed to 
have the power of turning themselves into hyaenas, and 
sometimes into other animals ; as being, in fact, either 
tormented by or allied with evil spirits, like the Middle- 
Age saints. 

' I remember a story of some little girls, who, having 
been out in the forest to gather sticks, came running 
back breathless with fright ; and being asked what was the 
cause, they answered that a blacksmith had met them, 
and entering into conversation with him, they at length 
began to joke him about whether, as had been asserted, 
he could really turn himself into a hyosna. The man, 
they declared, made no reply, but taking some ashes, 
which he had with him tied up in the corner of his cloth, 
sprinkled them over his shoulders, and, to their horror 
and alarm, they began almost immediately to perceive 
that the metamorphosis was actually taking place, and 
that the blacksmith's skin was assuming the hair and 


colour of the hyaena, while his limbs and head took the 
shape of that animal. When the change was complete 
he grinned and laughed at them, and then retired into 
the neighbouring thickets. They had remained, as it 
were, rooted to the place from sheer fright, but the mo- 
ment the hideous creature withdrew, they made the best 

of their way home Few people will venture to 

offend a blacksmith, fearing the effects of his resentment.'^ 

Burton says : ' It has been observed that the black- 
smith has ever been looked upon with awe by barbarians, 
on the same principle that made Vulcan a deity. In 
Abyssinia all artisans are Budah, sorcerers, especially the 
blacksmith, and he is a social outcast as among the 
Somal ; even in El Hejaz, a land, unlike Yemen, opposed 
to distinctions amongst Moslems, the Khalawigah, who 
work in metal, are considered vile. Throughout the rest 
of El Islam the blacksmith is respected as treading in the 
path of David, the father of the craft.' ^ 

Barth writes : ' All over the Tawarek country, the 
" enhad " (smith) is much respected, and the confraternity 
is most numerous. An " enhad " is generally the prime 
minister of every little chief. The Arabs in Timbuktu 
call these blacksmiths " mallem," which may give an idea 
of their high rank and respected character.' ^ 

With the Arabs, farriers are held in great esteem, and 
enjoy extensive and invaluable privileges, in consequence 
of the benefits their art confers on the indispensable 
complement of the Arab — his horse. The smith lives 

' Mansfield Parkyns. Life in Abyssinia, vol. ii. p. 144. 
' First Footsteps in East Africa, p. 2i3- 
^ Travels in Africa. 


in a tent set apart from the tribe, called the 'master's 
douar ;' he pays no contributions, and when grain is 
bought, he gets a share without payment; neither is he 
called upon to offer shelter to any one ; so that he is 
exempted from what in many cases is imposed upon all — 
hospitality. The constant toil demanded by his calling, 
the unavoidable accidents to which he is liable through 
the urgent wants of his brethren night and day, and the 
sleepless nights he has to undergo, entide him to certain 
gifts called ' master's dues.' 

On their return from the purchase of grain, every 
tent makes him an allowance of wheat and barley, and a 
quantity of butter. In the spring he gets the fleece of a 
ewe ; and if a camel is killed for eating, he gets the part 
between the withers and tail. When dividing plunder, 
no matter whether or not he has taken part in the 
expedition, he gets his share, usually a sheep or a 
camel, and this is called the horseman's ewe. The most 
important privilege accorded to him, however, and which 
shows more than anything else the high esteem in which 
his art is held, is the gift of life on the field of battle. 
If a farrier is on horseback, with arms in his hands, he is 
as liable to be killed as any other horseman ; but if he 
dismounts, kneels down, and imitates with the two corners 
of his burnous the movements of his bellows, he will be 
spared. This is only, however, when he has led an in- 
offensive life, and followed his art. 'A "lanae" (one 
share of the plunder) is given to the farrier of the tribe, 
for he contributes his skill and labour to the success of 
the enterprise. To kill a farrier is deemed infamous. It 
is a deed that will recoil upon the guilty tribe, who will 


be pursued by a curse ever after.' So afraid are the 
Arabs of losing their farrier, that if he happens to grow 
rich, a quarrel is fastened upon him, and a portion of 
his wealth taken away to prevent his leaving the district. 
A farrier whose tribe has been plundered, seeks out the 
robbers, and on the simple proof of his trade, recovers 
his tent, tools, utensils, and horse-shoes.' 

In Persia the traditions belonging to the craft are 
many and curious. One of these relates to Baduspan, 
who, very many centuries ago, possessed himself of the 
sovereignty of Ruyan and Rostemdar, a district of that 
country, and who was a descendant of that blacksmith so 
famous in the history of the East — Kawe by name. This 
valiant worker in iron overthrew the tyrant Sohak, and 
hoisted his leather apron for a flag ; which distinguishing 
badge, adorned with pearls and jewels, glittered till the 
end of that monarchy, as the national standard. 

After conquering the tyrant, Feridun, the legitimate 
heir to the throne, was duly proclaimed king by the mag- 
nanimous smith, Kawe. Feridun's mother had taken 
refuge in the forests soon after his birth, and had fed the 
child with the milk of a buffalo cow, the head of which, 
sculptured on that monarch's mace, has become no less 
celebrated among the national insignia than the leather 
apron. ^ 

In Java, and throughout the Eastern Archipelago, 
the workers in iron hold very high rank, and in ancient 
times were not unfrequently kings or princes. In other 
countries, it has often been the boast of monarchs and 

' E. Daumas. Les Chevaux du Sahara. 
' C. Von Hammer. Histoire des Assassins, p. 230. Paris, 1833. 


great chiefs that they could handle the tools of the smith. 
Longfellow declares that — 

* Since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations. 
Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.' 

In speaking of Basil the blacksmith, 

' Who was a mighty man in the village, and honoured of all men ; ' 

he intimates that even in the New World the traditional 
attrib utes of the grimy occupation had found a congenial 
home. There is something very pleasant in reading of the 
home-like scenes in ' Evangeline,' where, in the far-off 
Acadie, the children of the village, hurrying away to 
Basil's forge, 

' Stood with wondering eyes to behold him 
Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything. 
Nailing the shoe in its place 5 while near him the tire of the cart- 
Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders. 
Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness 
Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and 

Warm by the forge within they watched the labouring bellows. 
And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes. 
Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.' 

There appears to be every reason to believe that the 
mysteries of Druidism, and those secret metallurgical 
rites anciently practised in the East, and known as the 
' Samothracian Mysteries,' were very closely allied. From 
a comparison of the texts of Strabo, Diodorus of Sicily, 
Herodotus, Clement of Alexandria, and others, who speak 
of the Dactyli, Cabiri, Curetes, Corybantes, and Tel- 
chines, as people who came from the far East to Phrygia 
and Crete, where they introduced the working of bronze 


and iron, and worshipped in Rhea and on Mounts Ida in 
Phrygia and Crete, but chiefly in Samothracia, M. Ros- 
signol draws the following conclusions : ' In the collection 
of facts which spring from the same source, are woven 
together by regular deductions, and all tend to the same 
end, it is impossible to mistake the existence of a religious 
doctrine founded on the discovery and the first employ- 
ment of metals, as that of Eleusis was on the introduction 
of the culture of wheat. Therefore we do not hesitate to 
believe, that by this comparison we have thrown light on 
the mysteries of metallurgy, hidden under the name of 
the Mysteries of Samothracia.'' 

And Martin writes : ' The ancients have not mistaken 
the close relationship of these mysteries (of Druidism) 
with those of Samothracia, where the same symbol is 
found nearly entire. Gwyon is the Gijon of the Phoeni- 
cians, the Pelasgic Casmil ; Koridwen is the grand god- 
dess of the Cabiric rites of Thrace and Phrygia (Rhea). 
A very positive indication is to be found in the names of 
the Cabires — those cosmical genii from Western Asia, 
which exist scarcely changed in Irish poetry. The Gaels 
no doubt carried these symbols with them from the 
West.'^ Strabo lends his authority to this assertion in an 
unequivocal manner : * In one of the sacred islands near 
the coast of Britain, are celebrated mysteries similar to 
those of Samothrace and Eleusis ; these are the mysteries 
of Koridwen, to the observance of which the Druidesses 
appear to be more particularly devoted.' ^ 

In the mysteries of Samothrace, the sacred order of the 

^ Des Origines Religieuses de la Metallurgie. 
' Hist, de France. ' Strabo. Lib. iv. p. 190, 


Cabiri were the artificers, and reserved to themselves the mo- 
nopoly of working in metals ; they made the arms, armour, 
and all other metallic articles, in great secrecy, as did the 
ovates among the Druids. The chief workmen of the 
Druids guarded the centre fire to which so much myste- 
rious importance was attached.' 

But, it may be asked, if the Gauls and the Germans, 
long before the Romans came in contact with them, shod 
their horses with iron plates nailed to the hoofs, why was 
a practice of so much utility, and indeed of necessity, not 
adopted by the Romans, and mentioned in their writings, 
when they became acquainted with these races ? This, 
like so many others, is a difficult question to answer. 
Unless we admit that the solece ferrece were the nail-shoes 
of the Teutons and Gauls, or that the glantce ferrece only 
once found in the Roman writings were attached by nails 
to the hoofs, we have nothing whatever in the way of 
written evidence, as before stated, to show that this de- 
vice was resorted to by the Romans. The custom was, 
in all likelihood, prevalent in Gaul, Switzerland, Ger- 
many, and perhaps also in Britain, when invaded by the 
imperial armies, and it would appear that in time the 
Romans did resort to it. If we admit that the solece 

* Megnin. Op. cit., p. 9. ' La nuit du i" Novembre, les traditions 
Irlandaises rapportent que les druides se rasseniblaient autour du "pere- 
feu" garde par \xn pontife-forgeron et Teteignaient. A ce signal, de proche 
en proche s'eteignaient tous les feux de I'ile ; partout regnait un silence 
de mort ; la nature entiere semblait plongee dans une nuit primitive. 
Tout a coup le feu jaillissait de nouveau de la montagne sainte, et des 
oris d'allegresse eclataient de toutes parts ; la flamme empruntee au 
"pere-feu" courait, de foyer en foyer, d'un bout a I'autre de Tile et 
ranimait partout la vie.' Martin. Op. cit., vol. i. 


ferrece were not like the modern shoes, then it might 
be surmised that with people professing Druidism — a re- 
ligion represented by a caste who had a monopoly of 
working in iron, the requisite knowledge being only 
acquired after initiation, and which it was worse than 
sacrilege to divulge — would not be likely to yield their 
most sacred secrets to their conquerors, and put them on 
an equality with themselves. We know that the Romans 
were, for centuries, in contact with the Gauls, and yet had 
only weapons of bronze ; and that while their plough was 
of the most primitive description, even in the time of 
Virgil, the Gauls had an implement approaching per- 
fection ; and so with other objects in metallurgy. 

The Romans were, in several respects, slow to adopt or 
improve ; and prejudice, especially towards the arts of a 
conquered and a barbarous people, may have operated 
strongly with regard to shoeing. After a time they appear 
to have practised it, but to a limited extent ; and only (to 
judge from the evidence at present before us) in those 
countries where it was already in use on their arrival did 
they attempt it. But why was it not mentioned by their 
historians or hippiatrists ? When we find these writers 
anxiously describing the evils resulting to the hoofs from 
travelling, it might be expected that so simple, and yet so 
bold, a means of preventing them would have obtained 
notice. This omission, however, need not cause us so 
much surprise when we learn that sometimes great under- 
takings were overlooked, forgotten, or left unrecorded by 
the Roman historians. The Caledonian Wall, for ex- 
ample, was a most important work, entailing avast amount 
of labour, and built by the Romans themselves, yet only 


one of their writers makes the faintest allusion to its 

As already observed, the climate of the North, where 
hoofs are soft, roads rugged, and moisture prevails, may- 
have had much to do with the invention of shoeing among 
the Celts, and compelled the Romans to resort to it when 
they left their sunny southern climate, where hoofs are 
hard, and their wonderful paved strata. 

If the relics found in the battle-field of Alesia belong 
to the final struggle between Julius Cassar and the Gauls, 
then the Romans must have been cognizant of this means 
of defending horses' feet at a comparatively early period. 
Beger^ has figured a curious bronze medal (fig. 141), which 

fig. 141 
he classes among those of Julius Caesar, though he heads 
them ' Numismatalncerta;' and this uncertainty deprives 
it of much of the great interest it might possess with re- 
gard to the subject of our treatise. On the obverse of 
this medal appear two snakes with their tails entwined, and 
in the middle of the circle they form are two objects 
resembling one of the German shoes found by Linden- 

' Wilson. Prehistoric Annals of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 39. 
"_ Numismata Romanorum, vol. ii. p. 597. 


Schmidt at Gaufelfingen. These may be horse-shoes ; 
they have each eight holes, disposed three on each side 
and two at the toe ; and the extremities have an appear- 
ance as if there were calkins, though the engraver has 
unfortunately forgotten to copy them accurately ; but 
altogether their form and the disposition of the holes is 
peculiar, and certainly not like the shoes of the earlier 
periods. On the reverse of the medal is a laurel-tree, 
with the letters I O on each side of the trunk, and the 
legend TRIVMP (triumph). Nothing is known as to 
the history of this curious relic, or where it was discovered ; 
but as it was in the collection of the Elector of Branden- 
burg, it may be of Germano-Roman origin, in which case 
we may then conclude that the objects resembling shoes are 
really intended to represent them, and may be compared 
with the specimen from the Gaufelfingen tumulus. 

It may be added, however, that Beger' seems to have 
been much baffled by the medal, and could come to no 
conclusion as to its import. ' Quid autem serpentes 
caudis connexio ? quid calces equorum ? nisi cum Patino 
bellum prudentia gestum intelligas, non explicavero.' 
Eckhel, in his ' Doctrina Nummorum Veterum,' asserts 
that he has also seen this money, on which is impressed 
the ' two shoes placed between two serpents with interlaced 
tails.' He observed it in several collections, and thought 
it an evident allusion to the success of a race-horse in the 
circus. One or two of these coins were in the museum 
of the late M. Blacas. 

M. Nickard, who appears determined not to admit 
that horses were shod with the ancients, has been as much 
' Thesaur. Elect. Brandenburg, vol. iii, p. 597. 


troubled with these specimens as other numismatists and 
archaeologists, and is inclined to think that what we have 
designated horse-shoes are intended to represent fetters 
{entraves) for slaves, supporting this opinion by several 
references to the practice of manacling these unfortunate 
creatures. He does not, however, attempt to describe 
the fetters, or account for the presence of holes in these 
supposed examples. 

As I have just said, I am willing to believe that they 
are horse-shoes, and that Eckhel is not far from the truth 
in ascribing the origin of the coin to victories in the hip- 

As tending to confirm this opinion, it is worthy of 
note that quite recently, in a German work on farriery,' 
a tail-piece to one of the chapters shows a serpent en- 
circling a well-arranged and characteristic group of objects 
(fig. 142), consisting of a horse-shoe (modern German 

pattern), nails, hammer, pincers, 
buffer, rasp, and ' boutoir ' or 
' hufmesser.' 

It must not be forgotten 
that the serpent is the emblem 
of the metempsychosis and eter- 
nal renovation of Oriental myth- 
fig- 142 ology, and held a prominent 
place among the superstitions of the Druids. The egg of 
that creature was looked upon by them as a most potent 
talisman, and Pliny ^ describes how these articles were 

' Lehr- und Handbuch der Hufbeschlagskunst. Von J. T. Grosz. 
3rd edition. Stuttgart, 1861. 

' Hist. Naturalis. Lib. xxix. cap. 44. 


procured. The Druids wore them round their necks 
richly set, and sold them at a very high price. They 
appear, nevertheless, to have been nothing more than 
the shells of echini or ' sea-eggs.' 

At a very early date we discover another evidence of 
the high antiquity of shoeing among the Celtic and cog- 
nate races, in the frequent occurrence of a name to de- 
signate those who had charge of horses, and who had to 
attend to their shoeing. In F'rench, German, and early 
British writers, instead of iTnrioLT^og and mulomedicus, em- 
ployed in classical times to denote the veterinary surgeon, 
there is used the designation 'mariscalcus,' 'manescalcus,' 
'marescallus,' '■ mareschallus,' and finally ' mareschal ;' all, as 
Verstegan asserts, derived from the German word ' march ' 
— horse. ' In the ancient Teutonicke,' he says, ^niare 
had sometime the signification that horse now hath, and 
so served for the appelation of that whole kind, to wit, 
both male and female, and gelding, and so all went in 
general by the name of horse. Scale, in our ancient 
language, signifieth a kind of servant, as the name of 
scako (though a Teutonicke denomination) in Italy yet 
doth. Marsccdc (or marschal) was with our ancestors, 
as with the ancient Germans, curator eqiiorum, one who 
had charge of horses. The French, who (as we in Eng- 
land) very honourably esteeme of this name of office, doe 
give unto some nobleman that bare it the title of Grand 
Mareschal de France. And yet notwithstanding they doe 
no otherwise terme the smith that cureth and shueth 
horses than by the name of mareschal! ' Lobineau ^ says 

' Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Titles of Honour. 1635. 
'■^ Hist, de Bretagne. 


it is formed from the Breton word signifying ' horse ; ' 
but as the Britons, expelled from this country in the 5th 
century, took refuge there, giving it their name, and as 
the Bas-Bretons yet speak a dialect of the Celtic, this only 
lends additional proof as to the origin of the term. Pau- 
sanias, in his ' Phocians,' intimates that the term march is 
ancient Gaulish. 

The first part of the word ' mareschal ' is evidently 
Celtic, and the second, schal, Teutonic ; the designation 
being therefore composed of a Celtic and Teutonic root, 
it does not appear to date earlier than the fixation of the 
Francs on the soil of Gaul, and their renunciation of 
vagabond habits, and in this way characterizes the amal- 
gamation of the two people. The history of the first 
mareschal mentioned in the early chronicles, supports 
this opinion. This individual, whose name was Leudaste, 
was a Gaulish slave belonging to the island of Re, who 
at a later period of his life became a great dignitary. 
Markowefe, the wife of Haribert (a.d. $$6), confided the 
charge of her best horses to him ; and among the domes- 
tics of the royal household he was enrolled by the title of 
' Mariskalk.' ' Encouraged by his success, he did not 
remain satisfied with this title, which gave him the highest 
rank among tht Jiscalin serfs, but aspired to have the entire 
control of the royal stud, and to gain the position of comes 
stabuli, or constable, a dignity the barbarous kings, with 
many other things, had introduced at the imperial court. 
At the death of the queen, he so cultivated the growing 
esteem of King Haribert, as to distance all competitors 
and gain his object. After enjoying for a year or two 

^ Greg. Turon. Hist. France, vol. ii. p. 261. 


the superior rank he held in the domesticity of the palace, 
this fortunate son of a serf vine-grower in the island of 
Re, who had run away several times to escape slavery, 
and had one of his ears cut off in consequence, was made 
Count of Tours, one of the most considerable cities in the 
kingdom ruled by Haribert/ 

The compound word, then, was originally used, it 
appears, to signify a groom or horse attendant ; ^ after- 
wards, as the importance of the office increased, it was 
applied to a man who had charge of twelve horses, as 
exemplified in the following extract from an ancient Ger- 
man law: 3 'Si mariscalus, qui super xii caballos est, 

Subsequently, and particularly in the time of the 
Merovingians, the individual who had under his charge 
all the ' mareskalks ' was designated by the title of ' Comes 
Marestalli ' or ' Stabulorum ;'+ probably in imitation of 
the ' contostaulos ' of the Byzantine empire,^ The posi- 

' Megnin. Op. Cit., pp. 30, 6^. 

"" See Leges Salic. JFalter. Corp. Jur. German., vol. i. p. 22. 

' Anton. Geschichte der Deutschen Landwirtbschaft, vol. ii. p. 

* A. Thierry. Rocits de Teais Merovingiens, vol. ii. p. 198. 

^ The fondness for display in the matter of horses and stables mani- 
fested by the Byzantine Emperors, and which was qnickly imitated by 
the Goths and Franks, gave a great impulse to veterinary science. In 
the reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the Master of the Horse was 
one of the lirst dignitaries of the court, and was styled xofJ-riQ row 
(TTaftuv. ' Magnus contostaulos comes stabuli, Gallis connetable, nomen 
contiatum ex contos seu conto comes, et staulos stabulum, rrravXoc seu 
t7-av\oi' ex latino stabulum detortum. Habebant quoque veteres Franci 
comitem stabuli, ut videre est in epist. 3. Hincmari, c. 16, quem vul- 
gus corrupte appellabat constabulum, ut est apud Regionem, 1. 2, et apud 
Tyrium passim legere est conslabularis.' — Coc/ini. 


tion, however, was as yet one of no great honour ; for we 
find that the ivehr-geld, or ' blood-money,' of the mareschal 
in the Salic, German, and Burgundian laws, was only 
forty sous-d'or, a lower price than that fixed for a Roman 
tributary, which was sixty sous. The murderer of a 
Prankish noble had to pay six hundred sous, and for a 
common Frank two hundred. A Roman or Gallo-Roman's 
life was valued at one hundred sous. The sous-cror was 
equal to about fifteen francs present money. 

With the more universal adoption of nail-shoeing, the 
horse was rapidly becoming a very important animal in 
civilization at the commencement of the middle ages, and 
by far the most essential portion of a chevalier's property. 
The ' comes marestalli' was, therefore, as we might expect, 
a very distinguished personage, and held high rank. We 
have already seen that with the Celts in Wales, the groom 
of the rein occupied a dignified position as well as the 
smith ; and the mareschal in France was no less in favour, 
as we have had occasion to notice ; for after the time of 
Charlemagne, he had not only the care of all the horses of 
kings or princes, but was appointed to superior commands 
in the army, ranking finally as one of the most exalted 
personages at Court. 

There was nothing degrading in a nobleman shoeing 
horses during the era of chivalry ; and the mareschal, in 
the loth and i ith centuries, was on a footing of equality 
with the chamberlain, falconer, and other ofiicers who 
formed the establishment of the chevalier or prince. In 
the suite of a great noble there was an ccuyer de corps, the 
highest in rank ; then an ecuyer de chambre, or chamber- 
lain ; an ecuyer de tahle, or carver ; an ecuyer decurie, or 


mar e dial ; an Scuijer of song; and one falconer, etc. The 
ecuyer of a poor chevalier had to perform the duties of 
four or five ; for it was not enough to understand birds, 
dogs, and horses — to know how to handle a lance, battle- 
axe, and sword — to get over a fence or a ditch — to climb 
well in an assault — to speak with politeness to ladies and 
princes — to dress and undress his master — to wait upon 
him at table — to parry the blows aimed at him in a melee 
— but, in addition, he should know something of medicine, 
and be capable of dressing wounds. He should also be 
able to shoe a horse, and repair with the hammer broken 
armour, or with the needle mend a hole in a mantle. 
These varied acquirements were all necessary to make up 
the accomplished ecuyer (or squire), who might after- 
wards aspire to the honours of chivalry, and flatter himself 
to be worthy of them.' 

The Cartulary of Besanqon furnishes some curious 
details relative to the establishment kept up by Arch- 
bishop Hughes I., in the loth century: 'The grand 
officers of the Archbishop, all of whom possessed fortified 
hotels in the town, were nine in number. These were 
the chamberlain {earner ar his) ^ the master of the house- 
hold {senechal, or dapifer), the butler {pinceriia), the 
pantler ( panetarius), the marechal {?narescalus), the 
forester {Jorestarius), the purse-bearer {monetarius), the 
" vicomte " {vicomes), the mayor [major or villicus). . . . 
The marechal held the superintendence of the Arch- 
bishop's stables and the command of his men-at-arms 
{marechaussee) . Those innkeepers who desired to be 
established in the street La Lue, could only do so after 

' A. Callct. DicUonnaire Enc)x-lopedique. Art. Ecuyer. 


paying him the tribute of a cask of wine ; and all the 
workers in metal who sought to open shops in Besanc^on 
had to pay him a tax of as much as five sous. When 
the Archbishops of Besani^on, or their assistant-bishops, 
entered the town for the first time, the marechal escorted 
them, and afterwards claimed the horses or mules they 
had ridden, as also the cup with which they had made 
their first repast. When it happened that the emperor 
came, the same right was exercised, but only on the con- 
dition that the marechal had previously garnished with his 
ojvn hands the hoofs oj" the monarclis steed ivithfour silver 
shoes / ' ^ 

The Normans, on their arrival in France, were, like 
the Saxons and the Franks, far behind the Celts and Gauls 
in equitation or their management of the horse. On their 
reaching Neustria, Wace, the troubadour of the 12th 
century, sings : 

N'etoient mie chevaliers 
N'ils ne saroient chevalcliier 
Tot a pie portoient lor armes. 

And Rollo, the ^Walker,' as the chroniclers tell us, never 
rode.^ Yet they soon conformed to the customs of the 
people among whom they settled, and in a hundred and 
fifty years after disembarking from their ships, they had 
established the finest studs of horses in France. So that 
we need not be surprised that the Norman princes should 
also have instituted the office of ' March-shall,' to super- 

' Mem. Soc. d'Emulation. Besan9oii, p. 379, 1859. 

" E. Hoiiel. Hist, du Cheval. SnurIso7i. Heimskringla. The 
Saga in this work says he received the solriqiiet in consequence of his 
enormous size j no horse could be found to carry him, so he was com- 
pelled to walk. 


intend their extensive stables in various parts of Nor- 
mandy, but particularly at Rouen and Caen. This office 
sometimes became hereditary, and frequently gave a title 
of nobility to families — among these may be mentioned 
the ' Marechal de Venoix.' To the fief of Venoix, 
near Caen, was attached the duty of managing the stables 
of the Duke of Normandy, and everything relating to 
them : as the gathering of the forage from the fine 
prairies of Caen, Venoix, and Louvigny, for the use of 
the Duke's horses. Through holding this office, the 
owner of the fief was designated ' Marechal de Venoix,' 
or ' Marechal of the Prairie.' ' 

Among the noble families of France who derived their 
origin from this Norman source, we find Laferriere and 
Ferriere ; and these yet bear on their scutcheon eight horse- 
shoes.^ The King of France, as also the nobles, his vassals, 
had among his officers a marechal, who, under the ' conne- 
table,' officiated as master of the horse, superintendent of 
the shoers, and as veterinary surgeon. Father Anselmo,^ 
speaking of the duties of the constable, gives an example : 
' The king pays to the cavaliers the value of the horses 
they have lost in war, and for all those killed or disabled 
on service ; the constable ought to value, through his 
marechal, the war-horses belonging to him and his com- 
panions and all the people of his hotel, and such price as 
the marechal may fix, the king should allow.' 

The first French marechal to the king who com- 
menced to elevate the dignity of his office in a military 

' E. Houel. Op. cit., p. 178. Mcgnin, p. 75. 

* Le Nobiliaire de Normandie. 

3 Hisloirc de ]a Maison Royale de France. 


point of view, was Alberic Clement, lord of Metz, in Ga- 
tinais. He accompanied King Philip Augustus to the 
Holy Land, and distinguished himself at the siege of 
Acre, where he was killed at an assault conducted by 
William the Breton and Rigord, in 1 1 9 1 . He had on 
many occasions led the advanced guard into battle,' and 
it was he who inaugurated the brilliant series of French 
marshals. His son, though very young, was, in recog- 
nition of the father's services, made marechal, and in 
1225 commenced his duties, which, though military in 
their character, were yet made to include the manage- 
ment of the king's horses, and everything pertaining to 
them.^ It is not, however, until the 15th century that we 
find the marechal separating himself from horses and 
stables, and occupying a position second only to that of 
the sovereign. 

In relation to shoeing, the designation, elsewhere than 
in France, is of very frequent occurrence. In the reign of 
James II., King of Aragon (13th century), in appointing 
a marechal, it is ordained : ' Which Marescallus shall be 
near our person when we journey, furnished with nails 
and shoes, and other necessaries.' ^ In the Hist. Dalphini, 
for the year 1340, in defining the duties of this person, it 
is stated: 'Also the said Marescallus, every morning and 
late at night, is to see that the horses are properly 
groomed, . . and also to ascertain that they are well shod.' 

' Guillainne le Breton. Vie de Philippe Auguste : 

Fit subito tetra castris irruptio nocte 
Quippe marescallus festinum duxerat agmen. 

" Pere Anselme. Hist, de la Maison Royale de France. Paris, 1730. 
3 Leges Jacobi ii. Reg. Majoric. vol. iii. 



It is also found in the Charta Buzelinum (p. 528) for the 
year 1034;. in the ' Statutis Ordinis de Sempringham ' 
(p. 743) ; in ' Institu. Cap. Gener. Cisteric (cap. 36) ; and 
in Foris Bigorre (art. 40).' 

After the arrival of the Normans in England, and who 
in all probability brought it with them, the designation 
or title is a common one ; the marechal or smith being 
often typified by hammers, tongs, anvils, and horse-shoes, 
and marshall or marescallus became a common name. For 
instance, in the 'Annales Cambriae,' for the nth century, 
it is recorded, 'Willielmus Marescallus factus est comes 

We also notice that Walter Marshall, seventh Earl of 
Pembroke, who died in the Keep of Gooderich Castle, in 
1246, had for his seal a horse-shoe, and a nail within its 
branches. This seal is of interest to us in not only show- 
ing the origin of the name, but as affording a good idea 
of the shoes and nails in use at this period (fig. 143). 

In the curious work entitled ' Fleta,' 
written in the reign of Edward I., the 
'Marescalcia' and 'Marescallo' are 
specially alluded to. For example, in 
speaking of the ' Hospitio Regis,' it is 
written : Item eleemosynar ' janitorem, ^°- '^^ 

servientem ad custod' summar', et carectarum deputatum, 
et clericum de Marescalcia cum Marescallo, ferratore 
equorum, qui quidem clericus de expensis foeni et avenae, 
literas ferrure equorum et harnes' pro equis, et carectis, 
ac de vadiis servientum, scutiferorum, clericorum, et 
garcionem respondebit cujus interest scire de hiis qui 

' Du Cange. Glossarium ad Scriptores Mediae et Infime Latinitatis. 


de novo erunt admisi ad vad' Reg. quam de extravaganti- 
bus,' etc. And again, '^ Mares calli autem de supervenien- 
tibus debent inferiori Marescallo testimonium perhibere.'^ 
The functions of this dignitary are thus defined : ' Officium 
autem Marescalli est praebendam contra praspositum talli- 
are, et numerum equorum Senescallo hospitii in compoto 
diei qualibet nocte computare, at ipse in rotulo suo nume- 
rum equorum possit inverere, specifiando nomina super- 
venientium de eorum adventu, et mora. 2. Item furfur 
a prasposito per talliam recipere, cum vide necesse habue- 
rit, et inde Sen compotum reddere, ut fiat de furfure, sicat 
de avena. 3. Item contra pra^positum dc ferris et ckwis 
ab eo receptis talliam recipere, tam de numero ferrorum, 
quam de eorum custibus, et ubi ea allocaverit Sen' de- 
monstrare ; nee sine sua licentia alienos eguos vide licebit 
f err are. Item fcenum et literam equis deliberare.'^ 

In London, during the reign of Edward I., we not 
only find the designation of ' Mareschal ' in every-day 
use, but also a regulation defining the prices to be charged 
by him for his labour and materials ; from which we 
learn, that for putting on a common shoe with six nails, 
\\d. was to be paid; with eight nails, id.\ and for re- 
moving the same, \d. For putting a shoe on a courser, 
i\d. ; on a war-horse, 3c/. ; and for removing a shoe on 
either, id. This is notified in the Norman French of 
the ' Liber Albus ' of the London Guildhall, and is headed 
as follows : 

' De Marescallis, Fabris, rt Armuraris. 

' Qe Mareschals preignent pur fer de chival, de vi 
clowes, i denier obole ; de viii clowes, ii deniers ; et pur 
' Fleta, Lib. ii. cap. 14, p. 4. ' Ibid. cap. 74. 



remover dicel, obole ; et pur fer de courser, ii deniers 
obole ; et pur fer de destrer, iii deniers ; et pur removere 
un diceux, i denier.' 

From Letter-Book G, dated from a.d. 1353 to a.d. 
1375, and preserved in the Records of the City of 
London, we make the following extract : 

' Item, qe Mareschal preignent pur ferure des chivalx, 
cest assavoir, pur fer de viii clowes, ii deniers ; et de 
meyns, i denier obole ; et pur remover, obole.' 

That the designation was general wherever the Nor- 
mans had established themselves in England, is proved 
by the accompanying drawing (fig. 144) from the brass 
matrix of a curious seal 
now in the possession 
of Mrs Wooler, of 
Darlington, and which 
was found at Piers- 
bridge, near that town. 
A farrier displays a 
horse-shoe, heavy and 
clumsy, and pierced 
with six almost square 
holes, as well as a shoe- fig. 144 

ing hammer and two nails, as a badge of his craft, the 
legend around them being S. Radul, Marcchal d' I'Evechie 
d' Dureme — which signifies that it was the seal of Ralph, 
farrier to the bishopric of Durham. 

The word mareschal remained in vogue in England 
long after the Norman French had ceased to be the popu- 
lar or Court language, though it generally gave place to 'far- 
rier,' ' ferrier,' or ' ferrator,' a designation which had also 


been in use for very many centuries, and was derived, no 
doubt, from the ' faber ferrarius,' who not only worked 
generally in iron, but also shod the horses. In old French 
records it is not uncommon to ^ndjerrier and maresc/ial 
employed to designate the shoer. 

In the list of the slain at the battle of Bannockburn, 
fought between the English and Scottish armies on 23th 
June, 13 1 8, in which the first was defeated and the 
national independence of Scotland established, we find 
on the English side, among the knights and knight 
bannerets, the name of William Le Mareschal, and 
among the prisoners in the hands of the Scots, the knight 
Ansel m de Mareschal and Thomas de Ferrers.' These 
individuals, however, may not have been in any way 
connected, but by name, with the shoers of horses. 

It is curious, notwithstanding, to find the two designa- 
tions combined so late as the i6th century, and applied to 
the healer of equine maladies. For instance, in an account 
of Q-ueen Elizabeth's expenses from 1559 to 1569, there 
is an entry for ' Curinge and Dressinge of the Queen's 
Horses ; ' and among other sums disbursed by ' John 
Tamworthe, Esquire, one of Her Majesties grooms,' and 
which were to be refunded to him, it is written : ' Also he 
is allowed for money paide to Martin Hollyman, Marsliall 
Ferrer, and others, for curinge and dressinge of the 
Queen's Majesties coursers, horses, and geldings, at divers 
tymes, within the tyme of this accompt, as in the said 
book doth appere, .^63 i o.s. 4^/.' ^ 

' Trivet" s Annals. Hall's edit. vol. ii. p. 14. Oxford^ 1712. 
" J. Nidiols. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen 
Elizabeth^ vol. i. p. 269. Loudon, 1823. 


The designation of ' Farrier ' or ' Ferrator ' is ver)r- 
ancient, and may have been in general use before the 
introduction of the Norman one. For instance, in the 
reign of Alexander II. of Scotland, at the commencement 
of the 13th century, a family named Ferrier lived in 
Tranent, in Haddingtonshire, whose seal of arms was 
appended to an alienation of some lands in that locality to 
the family of Seton, and on this seal was a shield charged 
with three horse-shoes.' 

It is somewhat surprising to find the mareschal as an 
officer of importance in the household of the ancient 
Celtic, or rather Hebridean, chiefs in the Western Isles 
of Scotland. Every family had two of these functionaries, 
who, in their language, were called ' Marischal Tach,' 
both of whom had an hereditary right to their office in 
writing, and each had a town and land for his service. 
Some of these rights Martin has seen fairly written on 
good parchment.^ 

For the year 1240, the Ferrator is mentioned as being, 
it would appear, on an equal footing with the cook : 
' Besides these there were two offices of the same kind, 
namely, the office of cook and that of " Ferratoris ; " the 
liberty of exercising these lies with the citizens and the 
clergy.' 3 And in the Miracles of St Ambrosius it occurs: 
' D. Gescae uxor Fei Ferratoris de populo S. Martini.''* 
' Fabros ' is sometimes substituted for ' ferrator,' as, for 
example, in a charter of Henry V. of England (1413),^ 

' The Scottish Nation, vol. ii. Edinburgh, 1868. 

" Martin. Western Isles. ^ Hist. Dalphin. vol. i. p. 142. 

■* Chronic. Senoniense, lib. iii. Martin, p. 205. 

^ Ri/tner's Fcrdera, vol. ix. p. 2-50. 


where it is said : ' Thou knowest that we have assigned 
thee as many horse-shoes and nails as may be necessary 
for the shoeing of the horses of our stables in our present 
travelling, with Fabros et fernim, and all other necessaries 
required for the office of shoeing {ferrurce)' In con- 
nection with the various designations for the farrier in 
use during the Middle Ages, we also find a diversity of 
names for the horse-shoes, not the least frequent of these 
being 'ferratura.' So early as 11 84, in Charta Lucii III.' 
it is enacted : ' Pro se et duobus scuteriis et tribus equi- 
taturis fenum et avenam habeat, et candelas, et Ferraturas 
equorum de curia ipsa percipiat.' In another charter for 
the year 1252, it also occurs, 'Una Ferratura equi.' 

The general name, however, wa.sjerrum ov/ernis. In 
the ' Regestum Con stab ulariae Burdegal' (fol. 106) the 
former is expressed : ' Dixit se teneri facere D. Regi Sex 
Ferra nova equi cum suis clavis in mutatione Domini;' 
and the latter in the Acta St Raynerii Pisani (vol. iii,, 
Junii, p. 432), 'Ferrati enim equi qui illuc equitabant, 
sine aliquo ferro in pedibus regrediebantur, et qui suos 
Ferros reservabant, optimos habere pedes perhibebantur.' 
This affords us some evidence as to the insecure manner 
in which the shoes were attached to the foot at this 
period, as well as the wise conclusion arrived at, that those 
hoofs which longest retained their armour were generally 
the best. With regard to the word ' marechal,' it is still 
the only designation for the farrier in France ; but to 
distinguish between the shoer of horses and the highest 
dignitary in the land — though both originally were one — 

' Miraeus, vol. iii. Diplom. Belgic. p. 1189. 


the word ferrant is added to the title of the former 
{Marechal ferrant). 

Some strange superstitions are allied with horse-shoes 
and horse-shoeing, but chiefly with the shoes. It is im- 
possible to fix the age of many of these curious fancies, 
but they appear to belong to the remotest antiquity — to 
be coeval, indeed, with the early mysteries, and to have 
held their ground long after these had disappeared, de- 
scending from one age to another, until they have even 
reached our own day. Finding a horse-shoe, and nailing 
it to a door or other place in order to keep away witches 
or ill-luck, is one of those frailties of the human mind not 
alone confined to the West, but ranging over a large 
extent of the earth's surface. 

Burnes,' in travelling through Central Asia, remarks : 
' Passing a gate of the city, I observed it studded with 
horse-shoes, which are as superstitious emblems in this 
country as in remote Scotland. A farrier had no cus- 
tomers : a saint to whom he applied recommended his 
nailing a pair of horse-shoes to a gate of the city. He 
afterwards prospered, and the farriers of Peshawur have 
since propitiated the same saint by a similar expedient, in 
which they place implicit reliance.' 

Aubrey^ tells us that in his time ' it is very com- 
mon to nail horse-shoes over the thresholds of doors, 
which is to hinder the power of witches that enter into 
the house. Most houses of the West-end of London 

' Travels into Bokhara, vol. ii. p. 87. 

• Miscellanies; on Apparitions, Magic, Charms, &c. London, p. 
148, 1696. 


have the horse-shoe on the threshold. It should be a 
horse-shoe that one finds.' He adds : ' In the Bermudas 
they used to put an iron into the fire when a witch comes 
in. Mars is enemy to Saturn.' ' Under the porch of 
Stainfield church, in Suffolk, I saw,' he mentions, ' a tile 
with a horse-shoe upon it, placed there for this purpose, 
though one would imagine that holy-water would alone 
have been sufficient. I am told there are many similar 

Ramsey' speaks of nailing shoes on the witches' doors 
and thresholds to keep them in ; and Mr Francis Douce, 
in his manuscript notes, says ; ' The practice of nailing 
horse-shoes resembles that of driving nails into the walls 
of cottages among the Romans, which they believed to 
be an antidote against the plague : for this purpose L. 
Manlius (a.u.c. 390) was named Dictator, — to drive the 

We have already noticed the singular custom for 
many centuries prevailing at Oakham, in Rutlandshire. 
In Monmouth-street, London, Brand,^ in 1797, saw many 
shoes nailed to the thresholds of doors ; and Henry Ellis, 
in 1 813, counted no less than seventeen in that street 
fixed against the door-steps. 

The fair, but frail, ladies of Amsterdam, in 1687, be- 
lieved that a horse-shoe which had either been found or 
stolen, and placed on the chimney-hearth, would biing 
good luck to their houses.^ 

There is a curious and somewhat remarkable old Ger- 
man saying in reference to a damsel who has met with a 

' Elminthologia, p. 76. ' Popular Antiquities. 

3 Putanisme d'Amsterdam. 


misfortune — ' Ein Madchen dass ein Hufei.sen verloren 
hat.' The origin of this strange application of the word 
is unknown ; but the mishap may hav^e been compared to 
a horse stumbling and losing its shoe.' 

In Germany horse-shoes are stuck up in all the 
' Schmiedeherbergen,' or ' Gasthausern ' (smiths' pub- 
lic-houses), and are called the 'arms of the guild' {Zunji- 

Holiday, in his comedy of the ' Marriage of the Arts,' 
among other good wishes introduced, gives one to the 
effect ' that the horse-shoe may never be pulled from your 

To nail a horse-shoe, which has been cast on the road, 
over the door of any house, barn, or stable, is an effectual 
means of preventing the entrance of witches in Cornwall 
and the West of England to this day.^ I have recently 
met with instances of this custom in Kent. 

Butler,^ in his unrivalled ' Hudibras,' says of his con- 
jurer that he could 

' Chase evil spirits away by dint 
Of cickle, horseshoe, hollow flint.' 

Misson ^ mentions the popularity of this custom in 
England, and its being intended as a defence from witches : 
' Ayant souvent remarque un fer de cheval cloue au seuils 
des portes (chez les gens de petite etoffe), j'ai demande a 
plusieurs ce que cela vouloit dire ? On m'a repondu 
diverses choses differentes, mais la plus generale reponse 
a ete, que ces fers se mettoient pour empecher les sorciers 

' Notes and Queries, vol. v. p. 391. 

" Romances of the West of England. Second Series, p. 240. 
' Cajito iii. pt. 2, line 291. '' Travels in England, p. 192. 



d'entrer. lis rient en disant cela, mais ils ne le disent 
pourtant pas tout-a-fait en riant ; car ils croyent qu il y a 
la-dedans, ou du moins qu il peut y avoir quelque vertu 
secrete : et s'ils n'avoient pas cette opinion, ils ne s'amuse- 
roient pas a clouer ce fer a leur porte.' 

And Guy, in his fable of the Old Woman and her 
Cats, makes her complain that 

' crowds of boys 
Worry me with eternal noise ; 
Straws laid across my path retard, 
The horse-shoes nail'd (each threshold guard).' 

It was considered a lucky omen to find a horse-shoe 
on the road ; for one obtained in this way was far more 
potent against the ill-natured old ladies than one procured 
otherwise. Scott ' alludes to the virtues of the hoof- 
armour in this respect, when he causes Summertrees to 
rail Crosbie with, ' Your wife's a witch, man ; you should 
nail a horse-shoe on your chamber-door.' 

Only a few years ago, when the wealthy banker, Coutts, 
went to reside at Holly Lodge, two old horse-shoes were 
fixed on the upper step of the marble flight of stairs. 

Specimens will be shown of two horse-shoes — one of 
the 13th, the other of the 1 6th, century — which had been 
fastened to the church door of Saint-Saturnin, in France. 

It used to be the custom in Devonshire and Cornwall, 
to nail to the great west doors of churches these old 
articles to keep off the malicious witches, one of whose 
special amusements it was 

*To untie the winds and make them fight 
Against the churches.' 

' Red Gauntlet, chap. v. 


Church doors appear to have been rather fav^ourite depots 
for horse-shoes. On that of the church at Halcombe, 
Devonshire, were formerly four shoes, said to be those 
taken from a horse ridden some distance into the sea by- 
one of the Carews, for a wager. 

The odd custom even appears to have extended itself 
from the church to the precincts of the grave ; for Lin- 
denschmidt found horse-shoes in the tombs of Gaufel- 
fingen, and could not account for their presence there. 

At Schwarzenstein, about half-a-league from Rasten- 
burg, Prussia, two large horse-shoes, says tradition, were 
to be seen hanging to the church walls, and this is their 
antiquated history : ' Not far from the church dwelt a 
tavern-keeper, who, in selling beer to the people, did not 
give them just measure. The devil came upon him un- 
awares one night, and, before mine host could give the 
alarm, he was carried off to the village forge. His Satanic 
Majesty with difficulty wakened up the smith, and said 
to him, " Master, shoe my horse ! " The astonished Vul- 
can, who was justly suspected of being in partnership 
with the publican in his fraudulent transactions, knew not 
what to do ; but as soon as he drew near the beer-seller 
whispered in his ear, " Partner, don't be in a hurry, but 
work slowly." The smith, who had taken him for a horse, 
was greatly terrified when he heard the familiar voice, 
and the fright caused him to tremble in every limb ; 
consequently the operation of shoeing was greatly retarded, 
and in the interval the cock crew. The devil was then 
obliged to take to flight ; but the inn-keeper was very ill, 
and did not recover for a long time after.' If the devil 
were to shoe all the inn-keepers who give short measure, 


runs the moral of the tradition, iron would soon be beyond 
price ! ' 

There was to be seen at Ellrich, in Germany, in days 
long gone by, four horse-shoes, of immense size, nailed 
to the door of the old church. They astonished every- 
body ; and since the church was destroyed, they have 
been carefully preserved in the curate's dwelling. In very 
ancient times, Count Ernest rode one Sunday morning 
from Klettenberg to Ellrich, in order to contend, glass 
in hand, with the most intrepid tippler, for a chain of gold. 
He met a great number of rivals, and defeated them 
all ; and having put the chain round his neck, he was 
returning, as conqueror, through this little town to Klet- 
tenberg. As he crossed the principal thoroughfare, he 
heard the vespers chanted in the church of Saint Nicholas : 
drunk as he was, he made up his mind to enter the sacred 
building. So he rode in, through and over the people, 
up to the very altar ; but scarcely had his horse put its feet 
on the steps to clear them, than all at once its four shoes 
were torn oif, and it fell with its rider, both stiff dead on 
the floor. The shoes have been preserved for ages as a 
memorial of this event.^ 

Even the loss of shoes from the hoofs appears to have 
given rise in the middle ages to as great an amount of 
superstition, as the virtues ascribed to their discovery. So 
late as the i6th century we find the accomplished diplo- 
matist, brave soldier, and skilled poet, Du Bartas, blaming 
the humble little plant, moon-wort {Botrychium lunaria), 
for drawing the iron coverings from the horses' feet. 

' Pnvtorius. Weltbeschreib. vol. ii. Grimm. Deutsche Mytho- 
logie. ^ Otmar and Grimm. Deutsche Mythologie. 


' And horse that, feeding on the grassy hills. 
Tread upon moon-wort with their hollow heeles ; 
Though lately shod, at night goe bare-foot home. 
Their master musing where their shooes become. 
O moon-wort ! tell us where thou hid'st the smith. 
Hammer, and pincers, thou unshoo'st them with ? 
Alas ! what lock or iron engine is't 
That can thy subtile secret strength resist, 
Sith the best farrier cannot set a shoo 
So sure, but thou (so shortly) canst undoo?' 

Longfellow speaks 

' Of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horse-shoes ' 

as a superstition among the primitive settlers m Acadie, 
now Nova Scotia. And we have quoted M. Megnin's 
opinion that the apex of the ensign of a Roman cohort, 
figured on Trajan's column, was surmounted by a hoof- 
iron. If this be really a horse-shoe, it not only demon- 
strates that the custom of shoeing was known to the 
Romans, but that the strange virtues superstitiously 
attached to that object had already been credited by 
them ; as it would also appear to have been by the 
Arabs in Mahomet's time. 

,3 go 





After the Norman invasion of England, the shoeing 
of horses, and indeed everything relating to that noble 
animal, received much attention. Instead of being an 
obscure art, and apparently but rarely resorted to among 
the Anglo-Saxons, the Norman knights brought with 
them from the continent their marechals of high rank, 
and their esteem for chivalry, which, without horses, could 
scarcely have existed. The advantages arising from the 


employment of horsemen had been amply demonstrated 
to them at the battle of Hastings, where their victory was 
mainly due to the well-equipped cavalry force they carried 
from Normandy. We have seen that in France shoeing 
was extensively practised at this time, and was, indeed, an 
inevitable necessity, from the custom introduced of cum- 
bering men and horses with heavy weapons, and encasing 
them in massive armour. At Hastings, even the steeds 
were rendered proof against the attacks of the Anglo- 
Saxons by an impenetrable covering. Roger de Hoven- 
den, writing of this period, says, ' Cepit Rex Angliae 100 
milites, et septies viginti equos coopertos ferro, et servientes 
equites, et pedites multo.'' 

So that in England the practice of shoeing horses 
with iron shoes attached to the hoofs by nails, was, after 
the settlement of the Normans, completely established 
and general. The form of shoe introduced by them was, 
perhaps, more artistic than that of the earlier periods, and 
the same as that in use in France ; being usually furnished 
with calkins, heavy, larger in size than those found before 
their arrival, and having three, or more rarely four, nail- 
holes on each side. These nail-holes were nearly square, 
and wider at the top or ground-surface than the bottom 
or foot-face. The heads of the nails were also square, to 
fit the holes, and projected more or less from the surface of 
the shoe. The points of the nails, when driven through 
the hoof, were cut off, and only enough of the nail left to 
double over and form a clench or clinch.'' Examples of 

' Annal. p. 444. 

' This term would appear to be neither of Greek, Latin, nor French 
origin, but derived from the Anglo-Saxon Glh-lcnchcd, t\\ isted, gradually 



these shoes are to be found in the seals of Walter Mar- 
shall, and Ralph of Durham, already figured. Some 
years ago, at the formation of the London, Chatham, and 
Dover railway, in a cutting near Meopham, Kent, a shoe 
of this description (fig. 145) was disinterred. It is very 

heavy, large, and shaped as if 
for the foot of a mule. The 
nail-head yet remaining has 
been somewhat worn, yet 
enough is left to exhibit its 
peculiar square shape. The 
shoe appears to have been 
pulled off, as it is much twist- 
ed. The toe looks as if it had 
been slightly bent or ' curved' 
up, like the present French 
shoe, and there are four nails 
on each side. The calkins are solid, thick, and high, and 
altogether it is a clumsy shoe ; measuring, as it does, 4J 
inches across the quarters, 5| inches long, and i^ inch 
wide in cover; and though much oxidized, weighing 18J 

ounces ! 

Another specimen is here shown 
from the excavations at Besanqon, 
and which is supposed by M. Meg- 
nin to belong to the middle ages ' 
(fig. 146). And a curious example 
of the shod horse, in which the nail- 
fig- m6 heads and calkins are very con- 
becoming glenced, clenced, and clenched. The word has been in us^e 
from a very remote period in the history of this craft in Britain. 
' Hist. Ferrure, p. 26. 



spicuous, is now also copied from a French manuscript 
of the Apocalypse, written in the 13th century. The 
prominence given to the armature on the horse's hoofs 
shows how important it was deemed (fig. 147). Another 

fig- 147 

delineation will be found in a rare pamphlet printed in 
1485, entitled 'Jacobi publici Florentini. Oratoris Insti- 

In nearly all the manuscripts of this period, in which 
horses figure, their hoofs are represented as shod. We 
will give some additional examples of these presently. 

Writers more frequently mention "shoeing. Eusta- 
thius, who wrote a commentary on Homer, in the 12th 
century, is the first to mention the Greek horses of an- 
tiquity as shod, a statement we conclude to be erroneous, 
but which shows that Eustathius was well acquainted with 
the art. With the revival of learning, what may be de- 
signated veterinary medicine was again attracting altcn- 


tion, and the writers who previously treated of this branch 
of science, and were altogether silent regarding shoeing, 
now speak of it and its requirements. 

Foremost among these was the Calabrian, Jordanus 
RufFus, Master of the Horse {Comes Mai'estalli) to the 
great Frederick, who lived in the 13th century. This 
hippiatrist appears to have held high rank at Frederick's 
Court, for in one manuscript he signs his testament, ' Ego 
Jordanus, magnus justitiarius RufFus de Calabria impe- 
rialis Marescallus major interfui his et subscribi feci.' In 
the Harleian Codex of the British Museum is a manu- 
script in the Sicilian language, beginning, ' Izi cominza 
la libra di manischalchia compostu da lu Maestro Giordano 
Russo di Galicia, mariscalo del imperatore Federica.' 
Another codex is in the Damiani library at Venice, a 
Latin translation of which begins, ' Incipit liber manescal- 
chias. Nui Messeri Jordan Russu de Calabria volimo- 
insignari achelli chi avinu a nutricari cavalli secundu chi 
avimu imparatu nela manestalla de lu imperaturi Federicu 
chi avimu provatu e avimu complita qusta opira nelu 
nomu di deu, e di Santu Aloi.' The patron saint of 
farriers was thus, it appears, invoked to countenance his 

The only good edition to which I have had access, is that 
published at Bologna in 1561, with the tide, ' II dottisimo 
libro non piu Stampato delle Malscalzie del Cavallo, del 
Signor Giordano Rusto, Calaurese.' The work is curious, 
but by no means despicable ; and his brief remarks on 
shoeing are sensible enough. After mentioning that it is 
useful to wash out the horse's mouth and rub it with 
powdered salt, particularly if the animal does not drink 


willingly ; he recommends that the hoofs be shod with 
shoes of a conv enient weight, round, and adapted to the 
shape of the feet. The shoe to be light, and narrow 
towards the extremity of the branches, as in proportion 
to the narrowness of the shoe at the heels would the 
horse's hoofs become hard and strong. The thicker the 
shoes of the young horse, so the more liability was there 
to the hoofs becoming weak and soft ; and so long as 
horses continued to be shod in their youth, so would the 
hoofs become large and hard.' 

Veterinary medicine at this stage in the revival of the 
arts and sciences was almost, if not entirely, Italian, and 
the best and most original writers on it were natives of 
Italy. After RufFus, the principal author on the diseases 
and management of the domestic animals at this period 
is Petrus de Crescentiis, of Bologna, a philosopher, lawyer, 
physician, and traveller.^ His work, written when he was 
seventy years of age (1307), had an immense success, 
treating, as it did, of every branch of agriculture ; and 

' 'Ancora e utile al cavallo lavarghi spesso la bocca con umo buono, 
et fregargliela con il sal pesto : et facedo cosi, il cavallo bevera piu 
volontieri, et facciasi ferrat con ferri di peso convenevoli, et che sieno 
rotondi, tanto che s'adatti a I'unghia di piedi. II ferro deve esser leg- 
gieri, et stretto nella sua estremita ; imperoche quanto sono piu stretti 
di dietro, le unghie del cavallo, tanto sono piu dure, e forti. Et sappi, 
che quanto piu spesso si ferra il caval giovane, tanto piu fa divenir 
I'unghia debbile e mollej et pero per il conlinuo suo andar ferrato 
nella giovanezza, le sue unghie diveramo dure, et grandi.' 

"" I have not been able to refer to the first Latin edition — ' Opus 
Ruralium Commodorum,' printed in 147 1; but of the ten editions 
aftervi^ards published, I have selected for reference that of nearly a cen- 
tury later — ' De Omnibus Agriculturae partibus, etc, per longo rerum 
usu exercitatum Optimum et Philosophum Petrum Crescentiensem, 
principem rci publicae Bononiensis,' etc. Basileae, 1548. 


though with respect to the maladies of the lower animals, 
he borrows largely from the Latin Scriptores Rei Rusticae, 
and Jordanus Ruffus, yet he appears to have been an 
enlightened observer, and much less superstitious than 
the majority of medical men at that time. He describes 
several disorders the foot of the horse is liable to, and 
points out the difference between the hoofs of horses 
reared and employed in mountainous districts, and those 
bred in low-lying plains. When giving directions as to 
the management of the horse, he recommends that the 
shoes be round, light, and narrow, so that they might 
adhere firmly to the circumference of the feet. Thin 
shoes, he adds, render the horse agile, and to pare and 
lighten the hoofs makes them large and strong. When, 
however, new shoes are applied, and fastened on with 
either new or old nails, it is necessary the horse should 
rest, lest harm ensue.' 

Perhaps among the most noted of the 14th-century 
hippiatrists, stands Laurentius Rusius (Ruzzius, Russo, 

The first and second sentences of this recommendation are from 
the edition I have mentioned : ' Ferrari debet equus ferris sibi conve- 
nientibus rotundis admodum ungulae lenibus, et unguh's in circuitu 
strictis, et bene adherentibus, nam levitas Jerri reddit equum agilem ad 
levandum pedes, et ipsius strictura ungulas majores et fortiores facit.' — 
Lib. ix. cap. ^. 

Aldrovandus, who may have had access to a more complete edition, 
quotes this somewhat dilFerently, and adds to the last sentence given 
above — * Crescentiensis monet ut soleae sint leves, rotiindae, et strictae, 
ita ut ungulis in circuitu bene adhaereant. Nam levitas (inquit) ferri 
reddit equum agilem ad levandum pedes et strictura ejus ungulas ma- 
jores et fortiores facit. Cum autem novae soleae inducuntur, aut veteris 
novis clavis firmatae aliquanti per equum quiescere patiemur, ne post 
recentem molestiam alia noxei objiciatur.' — Op. cit., p. 50. 


Rusius, Ruzo, de Ruccis, Ruse, Rugino, Rosso, and 
Riso — for by all of these names is he designated in the 
many editions of his writings), a veterinary surgeon of 
Rome (as he styles himself), and a friend of Cardinal 
Napoleon de Ursinis, who lived in the 13th and 14th 
centuries. His observations on the maladies of the 
lower animals, though similar to those of RufFus, are, for 
the time in which they were written, remarkably exact, 
and on shoeing, though brief, they are yet reasonable. 
' It is necessary to shoe horses with good and proper 
shoes, shaped like the hoofs ; the more the extremities of 
the shoe — the heels, are narrow and light, the more easily 
will the horse lift his feet ; and the narrower the shoe is, 
so much more will the horn grow. It is also advantageous 
to know, that the oftener we shoe a young horse, so 
rapidly does the horn become thin and weak ; and, on 
the contrary, to accustom it to travel without shoes while 
it is young, is to make the hoofs larger and stronger.' ' 
In other chapters, the diseases of the foot, many of them 
arising from shoeing, are carefully described. 

In the nth century, I think we have the first written 
intimation that oxen were shod for travelling. Guibert 
de Nogent, a contemporary of Peter the Hermit, and 
who has so well and so eloquently described the almost 
morbid excitement attending the preaching of that w^orthy 
in favour of the Crusades and the rescue of Jerusalem, 
gives as an illustration, that of 'the rustic, ivho shod his 
oxen like horses, and placed his whole family on a cart ; 
where it was amusing to hear the children, on the ap- 

' La Mareschallerie de Laurens Ruse. Paris, 1563. Translated from 
the Latin edition published at Spire in i486. 


proach to any large town or castle, inquiring if that were 
Jerusalem.' ' 

This allusion is curious, inasmuch as it informs us 
that oxen were shod, and, as if something very remarkable, 
like horses. It is well known that oxen cannot travel far 
with the continuous oval-shaped horse-shoe ; the arma- 
ture for the foot must be in two portions, one for the 
outer margin of each claw. Guibert, however, may only 
have referred to the manner of nailing on an iron plate 
on cloven hoofs, as very unusual. 

It is not until the 13th century that we find any 
positive record of special buildings for shoeing, and also for 
treating horses medically. In 1202 there are two entries 
for shoeing in a booth : ' Pro Travillis et pro circulis et 
pro vectura duorum ferratorum Ix. s.' ' Pro merreno ad 
tres Travaiios ferratorum et uno ferrati et pro duvis 
xliii. s.'"" In a charter for about the year 1302, a place 
of this kind is also notified as a ' Travaillium.' ' In which 
street was placed a certain travaillium (workshop, from the 
French travail), for the use of the smith to shoe horses 
in, which was and had been called a travaillium, and was 
placed and allowed to be retained there by our command.'^ 
And in England, in 1235, during the reign of Henry III., 

' Novigent. Opera, Lib. ii, cap. 6. 

' Du Cufige. D. Brussel, vol. ii. De Usu Feud., pp. 142, 155. 

^ Ibid. Tabul. Carnot. Trabs also adduces Borellus' testimony 
for the year 1267, as follows : ' Inquesta facta . . . ad sciendum utrum 
.... spectat ad dom. Regem. Travalla equorum et stalla terrae defixa, 
quae sustinentur super columnas solo adherentes, quae cheminis et viis 
praestant impedimentum, propter hoc tollere. Probata est haec con- 
suetudo, videlicet quod potest tollere stalla aut scalla et Travalla terrae 
noviter defixa, praestantia viis impedimentum.' 


Walter le Bruin or Brun, a farrier or marechal, had a 
piece of land granted him in the Strand, in the parish of 
St Clement's Danes, London, whereon to erect a forge, 
on condition that he should render at the Exchequer, 
annually, for the same, a quit-rent of six horse-shoes, with 
the nails (62) thereunto belonging. This strange pay- 
ment was made twice during the reign of Edward I., and, 
curiously enough, was continued so late as 1827 (and 
may be even now), at the swearing-in of the annually 
elected Sheriff of London and Middlesex, on the 30th 
September, to the representative of the Sovereign, for the 
said piece of ground, though it has long been city pro- 
perty. This was the origin of the odd custom of count- 
ing the horse-shoes and hob-nails.' ' 

From the daily expense book of the 28th year of 
Edward L^ (12,99 — 1300), we learn that the pay of the 
smith was fourpence a day, and that horse-shoes were 
charged at ten shillings per hundred, and nails twenty- 
pence a thousand. Iron sold at iivepence per stone. 
In it also notice that the functions of the armourer 
and smith were divided, special workmen representing 
each of these crafts. In the same record we find an 
entry for divers instruments of farriery to shoe horses, 
which appear to have been sent to that monarch in the 
Holy Land : ' Diversa utensilia ferrator equorum qui 
missa fuerunt Regi in terra Sancta ut dicebatur.' 

The draught-horse {equus ad tractandum or ccirrec- 
tarum) was as yet a somewhat rare animal, the state of 

' Madox. Hist. Exchequer. Allen. History of London, vol. i. 
p. 76. 

* Liber Quotidianus Contrarotulatoris Garderobe. London, 1787- 



the roads seldom allowing the passage of wheeled carriages. 
The Court travelled on horseback, the ladies even being 
obliged to resort to this kind of conveyance. The ' equus 
dextrarius,' or war-horse, was in high favour, and kept 
only for state occasions or for battle ; while the ' equus 
discopertus,' or hobelar, was used for quick travelling. 
The light cavalry soldiers, who rode these small horses or 
hobbies, were called hobelars. This convenient-sized 
creature was also that generally ridden in hawking and 
other sports of a like character, as it was hardier and more 
conveniently managed. All appear to have been regularly 
shod ; and in the illuminated manuscripts of this period, 
the greatest pains is taken to represent the shoes and nails. 
This will be seen by referring to the annexed engraving 
(fig. 148), copied from the Louterell Psalter, perhaps one 

of the finest manu- 
scripts in existence, 
and now in the pos- 
session of the Weld 
family, Lulworth Cas- 
tle, Dorsetshire. It is 
supposed to belong to 
the 14th century, and 
is a most valuable 
document for reference 
with regard to the do- 
mestic history of that 
fig, ,48 period in England.' 

The subject is a gentleman hawking, and mounted on 

' A number of the illustrations, with descriptive notes, has been 
published in the Vetusta Mouumenta, vol. vi. 


one of these hobbies. The artist has exerted himself to 
show not only the shoes and nails, but in some of 
his illustrations he has even made manifest the latter in 
their passage through the hoof. The calkins and nail- 
heads are certainly very massive and clumsy-looking, 
though there can be no doubt they would afford a power- 
ful hold of the ground. The presence of calkins had, 
besides, another advantage for those who were inclined to 
resort to a stratagem like that already described when 
speaking of Spain. When Robert Bruce returned to 
London with King Edward in 1302 (some accounts say 
1305), his associate, Cumyn, treacherously betrayed him; 
but a secret friend gave him due notice of his danger by 
a present of a purse and a pair of spurs. This hint the 
Scottish champion was shrewd enough to understand, 
and made his escape, as Hollingshed ' tells us, by 'causing 
a smith to shoo three horses for him, contrarilie with the 
calhing'^ fonvard, that it should not be perceived which 
waie he had taken by the track of the horsses, for that 
the ground at that time was covered with snowe, he 
(Robert Bruce) departed out of London about midnight.' 
Lest we forget to remember at the proper moment, it 
may be here stated, that a similar ruse was adopted by 
Duke Christopher of Wiirtemburg in 1530. When that 
nobleman fortunately freed himself by flight from the 
power of the Emperor Charles V., he reversed the position 
of his horse's shoes, and thus made his pursuers believe 
he was going in a contrary direction. 

' Historic of Scotland. Year 1302. 

' The word calkin or calking would appear to be derived from the 
Latin cali^r, the heel, or catrare, to tread. 



Iron horse-shoes were at this period, according to 
Mr Rogers, ' sold by the hundred, and nails by the 
thousand, as at present. In 1265, we find the former 
articles selling at Dover 225 for ^s. ^^d. per hundred, 
and nails at is. yl. a thousand; whereas at Odiham, in 
Hampshire, 84 were purchased for 5.9, 6|f/., and 1000 nails 
at IS. id. These prices vary considerably, but in in- 
creasing proportion up to 1398, when we find 26 fore- 
shoes sell at Oxford for 16.?. 8<:/., and 22 hind-shoes at 
12^-. 6d. ; while nails at the same place, in 1390, were 
IS. 6d. per hundred. 

In the accounts and annals of farms and estates 
during the 13th and 14th centuries, it is shown that the 
chief expenditure incurred in the keep of horses was the 
cost of shoeing. In the earlier part of this period, shoes 
were occasionally made, it appears, out of the iron pur- 
chased by the chief bailiff, and fashioned by the village 
smith. But shoes were nearly always bought ready-made, 
and in considerable quantities. They must, indeed, have 
been very slight, and little more than tips ; the necessity for 
strong shoes, in the absence of hard or well-metalled 
roads, not being so urgent as now-a-days. It is possible, 
also, that the hoofs of horses have in our time become 
less solid, in consequence of the continual paring and 
mutilation which the modern system of shoeing involves. 
If we compare the price of iron by the hundred with the 
cost of shoes, says Mr Rogers, and remember also that the 
charge of working iron was generally almost equal to that 
of the material, we shall find that the mediasval horse-shoe 

' History of Agriculture and Prices in the 13th and 14th Centuries. 
Vol. ii. p. 328. 


could not have possibly weighed more than half, and prob- 
ably very often not more than the third of a pound. 
Traces are to be found of heavier shoes. Thus several of 
the entries in bailiffs' accounts, from 1265 to 1276 (unless 
we conclude that wrought iron was always dearer in the 
eastern counties, owing to the general enhancement of 
wages in a region then so favoured by manufacturing activ- 
ity), seem to indicate stouter and heavier shoes than are 
ordinarily found. So marked is this difference on some oc- 
casions, that Mr Rogers was obliged to omit certain entries 
at very high prices from his calculations of the annual aver- 
age, lest he should give a false impression as to the value of 
this ordinary manufacture in certain years. Thus, while 
particular shoes are returned from Ospringe in 1286, 1287, 
and 1288, at 3.9. ^d. the hundred, — a rate which is very 
frequent in the 13th century, — others are quoted at 5^., 
5-?. 6d., and 8.?. 6d., and are specially designated as ' great 
shoes.' These may have been like the specimen figured 
on page 392 ante. Similarly, the entries for the last 
year in which evidence is afforded, are shoes supplied for 
the saddle-horses of Merton College, and the price, it 
must be admitted, is very high. The Hornchurch return 
for the year 1396 is also excessive; but the purchase is 
made for the farm stud, and represents probably only that 
dearness which is found, even in those early days, in the 
vicinity of London. On the occasions when the kind of 
shoes are distinguished, a difference is generally made 
between the price of cart-horse and affer, or stott, shoes. 
The latter, Mr Rogers observes, were a breed of ponies 
used for the rougher kinds of husbandry, or for such 
work as that in which endurance and hardihood were more 



needed than strength. Sometimes, however, as in 1297, 
cart-horse shoes were less than stott shoes. It is probable, 
too, that the strength of the shoe varied with the soil and 
the work. Thus at Gamlingay, in 1343, the shoes of the 
cart-horse were dearer than those needed for ploughing 
horses. The theory given above, that the shoes were light, 
is supported by the fact that at Farley, in the year 1320, 
ox-shoes are quoted at little less price than horse-shoes. 
The range of prices for shoes, indicated by Mr Rogers's 
researches, is equally suggestive with that of any other 
commodities. In the first ninety years shoes are dearest 
in 13 1 1 — 1320, though the price is not materially 
enhanced. Afterwards they fall again, and would have 
fallen still more markedly, were it not for the immediate 
results of the Great Plague occurring at that period. This 
visitation produces its effects at one place only in the year 
1348 — this being Boxley, where the price is at once nearly 
four times that at which purchases were made in 1339 
and 1340; but afterwards the effect is universal. Shoes 
customarily worth only a halfpenny before, are instantly 
and permanently a penny, and the price never falls again. 
For when we consider how steadily the need increased for 
these articles, how universal was the smith's labour, and how 
the relative value of the commodity was governed by 
causes over which the interference of the legislature could 
exercise only a v^ery partial control — if, indeed, it could 
effect any real control at all — we should be prepared to 
anticipate the result which actually ensued, that the price 
was doubled. Even here, however, we may trace the 
same phenomenon, adds Mr Rogers, which has so often 
occurred. Prices are higher in the decade 137 1 — 


1380, and are lower afterwards. 'Were there sufficient 
evidence for the last ten years, the facts which I have 
been able to collect would, I am confident, have been 
varied in the averages, and the quotations in all likelihood 
would have to be put on the ten years at 8.?. ; instead of 
being, as I am constrained to return them, at the great 
price of 13^. 6^d.- The causes to which the deficient 
information of the later part of the period must be 
ascribed, are : the change which takes place in the method 
of agriculture, and the change which the course of events 
had induced upon the condition of the smith. The 
reader will anticipate that the former cause consists in the 
fact, that the system of bailiff farming was gradually re- 
linquished after the event of the plague. But accounts 
are not kept in so careful a manner. The dearth of hands 
had produced its effects on the inferior clergy, the scribes 
and accountants of the middle ages. Items which used 
to be carefully distinguished are lumped in one general 
sum — credited, for instance, to the bailiff, as the year's 
charge for shoeing. Services which used to be cheap 
and effectual, had now become dear and negligent ; and 
such symptoms were apparent in the economy of agricul- 
ture, as designated that a radical alteration in the method 
of tenure was impending. And there are also indications 
that oxen, according to Walter de Henley's advice, were 
superseding horses in farm-work. The other cause is the 
change which comes over the condition of the artisan. 
Hitherto it was very seldom that such persons dealt in 
finished goods. As a rule, they were hired to do work 
on materials purchased by their employer ; and in some 
occupations, as in the building trades, this purchase of 


materials continues for centuries after the time before us. 
Thus, although at a very early time horse-shoes were 
bought by the hundred at fairs and market-towns, they 
were also fashioned out of the bar-iron bought annually 
by the bailiff for the use of the farm. This revolution in 
the relations of employer and artisan was effected, of 
course, not only by the fact that the latter obtained better 
terms for his labour, but because he had become possessed 
of capital, was able to lay by a portion of his gains, and 
could therefore work for a future market.' ' Any person,' 
says the Professor, ' who studies, even superficially, a farm 
account at the beginning, and another at the end of the 
14th century, must obtain indications of the change which 
has taken place in the habits and in the condition of the 
labouring classes. So, out of the gains which were thus 
amassed, temptations to spend coming but little in the 
way of the mediaeval labourer, those estates were pur- 
chased on which the yeomanry of the 15th century lived 
in comfort.' 

' Equally characteristic is the history of the price of 
horse-shoe nails. These articles were purchased at the 
same times and places with the shoes. Knowing what 
horse-shoe nails must have been, we can readily judge 
from the price at which they were purchased, what was 
the size of other nails. These nails, bought by the 
thousand, were made, it is probable, with broad heads, the 
grooved shoe being, considering the price of iron and the 
lightness of the plate, an invention of later times. But the 
nail must have been of length sufficient to pass through 
so much of the hoof as would serve to keep it tightly on, 


and it must have been of such temper as to insure its 
toughness and endurance. To judge by the price, the 
horse-shoe nail must have contained two-thirds more iron 
than the lath-nail, and about half as much as the broad 
nail. The price of these nails rises and falls evenly with 
that of horse-shoes. During the first ninety years, they 
are dearest in the years 13 11-20, and though the price 
declines slightly after this time, it does not revert to the 
cheap rates of the thirteenth century. After the plague, 
the rise is instant and permanent, the rate being doubled, 
and remaining high, the dearest time being, as before, the 
decade 13 71 — 1380. Evidence for the last ten years is 
wanting, but judging by the exactness with which the 
price of these articles follows that of horse-shoes, we might 
certainly afhrm that if the latter stood at from 8.9. ^d. to 
8.y. the hundred, the former would be about is. 6d. the 
thousand. The general rise on the average of the last 
forty years is not, indeed, quite so large as that of horse- 
shoes, though it is upwards of 1 00 per cent. ; but it will 
be remembered that the rate of horse-shoes for the last 
ten years is excessive, and the evidence insufficient.' 

The annexed illustration, from the Louterell Psalter, 
represents a waggon-team ascending a terribly steep hill, 
the horses' feet being shown as well armed with shoes and 
large-headed nails (fig. 149, next page). This drawing is 
of great interest in many respects, but particularly as dis- 
playing the mode of harnessing and driving draught horses 
at this period, as well as the construction of the waggons. 

In the reign of Richard II. (1377-99), ^^om a bailiff's 
account of a manor in Surrey, it appears that the fore- 

THE ' STOTT: 409 

feet of oxen used in ploughing, and heifers or stutts in 
harrowing, were shod at threepence each.' 

It is necessary here to remark, that Richardson^ derives 
the word ' stott ' from the Anglo-Saxon stod-hors, and as 
applied to oxen from the Swedish shit, Danish stud, a 
steer. The word has given rise to some discussion, it 
having been used for a very long time in Scotland as a 
designation for a steer, heifer, or bullock, and the notice 
in the above is thought by the antiquarian who quotes it, 
to mean heifer. Of this, however, there may be con- 
siderable doubt ; as the term has been constantly applied 
in England to under-sized strong horses or cobs. In 
the 'Vision of Piers Plowman' (1362?) it occurs in this 

sense : 

Grace of his goodnesse, gaf 
Peers foure stottes. 

And Chaucer, in his 'Canterbury Pilgrims,' says: 

This Reeve sat upon a right good slot. 

That was all pomelee (dappled) gray, and highte Scot, 

Signifying, I think, that the word came from beyond the 
Tweed. Sir David Lyndsay also applies it to a horse. On 
a part of the border of the so-called Bayeux tapestry, re- 
presenting the landing of William the Conqueror and 
the battle of Hastings, a piece of needlework by some 
ascribed to Saxon embroiderers, there is a representation 
of a man driving a horse attached to a harrow — one of 
the earliest instances we have of horses being used in field- 
labour ; but which was a common enough custom in the 
time of Richard II. 

' Archaeologia, p. 284. London, 181 7. 
"^ Dictionary of the English Language. London, 1837. 


Stow, for 1273, informs us that coal was not allowed to 
be burned in or near London, being ' prejudicial to human 
health,' and that smiths were even prohibited from its use, 
and obliged to burn wood. This may have materially- 
influenced the cost of iron-w^ork at this period. Chaucer, 
in the 'Canon Yeoman's' tale, frequently speaks of coals 
being used by the alchemist. 

A great degree of interest attaches to the next two 
drawings of shoes belonging to this period, from the fact 
that the actual specimens are closely related to an incident 
which somewhat prominently marks the otherwise event- 
ful reign of Edward II., and are melancholy souvenirs of 
the downfall of a brave English nobleman. 

We have already noticed the grants of land bestowed 
on Henry de Ferrarius by William the Conqueror, and 
mentioned that among these was Tutbury, an estate situated 
on the Staffordshire side of the river Dove, which there 
forms the boundary between that county and Derby- 

Standing on a commanding eminence of gypsum 
rock, which may have been selected as a stronghold by 
the ancient Britons and Romans, and on which there cer- 
tainly stood a fortification during the Anglo-Saxon Hept- 
archy, but which was afterwards destroyed by the Danes, 
the castle of Tutbury was rebuilt on a much larger scale 
than before, by the Norman — farrier we had almost called 
him, and was a place of some importance in those days of 
family fortresses. 

In 1269, this place, with his other possessions, was 
forfeited by Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, and given 
by Edward I. to his brother Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, 


who dying in 1297, left it to his son Thomas, the second 
Earl of Lancaster, when the castle was still more beautified 
and improved, and made a general residence. In a short 
time, however, this nobleman embroiled himself with his 
nephew, Edward II., the next sovereign ; for, becoming dis- 
gusted with the manner in which that monarch allowed 
himself to be swayed by his successive favourites, Gaveston 
and the two Spensers, and pitying the people who were the 
victims of his rapacity, as well as instigated by his own 
private wrongs, he, at the head of a number of barons, 
first remonstrated with his king, and afterwards took up 
arms in open rebellion. The consequence was a civil 
war, which for some time was carried on vigorously by 
both sides. 

The king had advanced into the heart of the king- 
dom while the earl was in the north, and before the latter 
could intercept it, the royal army had penetrated nearly 
to Burton in Staffordshire. Here, by great exertion, the 
earl had been able to arrive before Edward, and occupied 
the town, situated on the western bank of the river Trent, 
which is here very deep. Lancaster determined to make 
a stand at this place, as it was the key to his castle of 
Tutbury ; the long, narrow, and crooked bridge across 
the river being easy of defence, and so long as success- 
fully held, preventing any approach, except in a round- 
about way, to the important stronghold. 

Though deserted by the barons who had at first re- 
belled with him and had joined his standard, the earl might, 
nevertheless, have offered good fight, but, unluckily for 
him, a countryman had shown the king's army a ford 
about five miles above Burton ; so while one portion 


menaced the town, another crossed the river and threat- 
ened the castle. The earl's position was now untenable, 
and he was obliged to fly to his apparently impregnable 

Tutbury is only about five miles from Burton, so 
that Lancaster soon reached his home, though scarcely had 
he got across the drawbridge before the royal forces were 
at the gate. It was soon discovered that to attempt 
defence was impossible, and to come out on the Stafford- 
shire side quite impracticable; while the river Dove, at that 
time greatly flooded and scarcely fordable, and over which 
there was no bridge, appeared to cut him ;completely off* 
from Derbyshire, through which he might have passed to 
his castle of Pontefract, in Yorkshire. Thus hemmed in, 
nothing was left but surrender or hazardous flight across 
the Dove. 

The latter alternative was adopted ; and after leaving 
his baggage and military chest in charge of his treasurer 
Leicester, with directions to convey them in safety, and 
as quickly as possible, to Pontefract, he and his followers 
made the attempt, and, in spite of the high floods, suc- 
ceeded in gaining the opposite bank in safety. 

Such, however, was not the fortune of Leicester's 
charge — the military chest, which contained all the money 
the earl had been amassing to pay his retainers and dis- 
charge the current expenses of the disastrous war he had 
undertaken. This servant, following his master at night, 
did all he could to convey the treasure safely from the 
castle, but in the confusion of getting down the steep hill 
and across the swollen river in the dark, with a fugitive 
panic-stricken guard and terrified waggoners, the chest 


and its contents were lost in the Dove, and the unlucky- 
treasurer, compelled to fly before daylight discovered 
him, never after had an opportunity of returning to 
attempt their recovery. 

The earl himself, deserted by those on whom he 
depended, was soon after betrayed into the hands of his 
enemies, who conducted him to Pontefract, where, after 
suffering the greatest indignities, as is generally the case 
with fallen greatness, his head was struck off', towards the 
end of March or beginning of April, 1322. 

The subsequent troubles appear to have caused the 
loss of this treasure to be forgotten, and probably of the 
few who witnessed its immersion m the Dove none ever 
returned to Tutbury ; so that the poor earl's money, which 
perhaps might have saved him his head, had he chanced 
to possess it before his capture, was destined to remain 
in the bed of the river undisturbed, except by the rushing 
waters, for more than Ave hundred years, and would 
in all likelihood have continued so, but for a curious 

This happened in June, 1831. In the long interval 
that had elapsed, the Dove had been spanned by two 
bridges ; corn and cotton mills were erected on its banks 
near this spot ; and the stream had been troubled with 
all manner of weirs and dams, cuts and alterations, but 
without revealing the secret it contained. On the ist of 
June, in that year, however, the proprietors of the cotton 
mills having commenced the operation of deepening the 
river, with the object of giving a greater fall of water to 
the wheel, the workmen found among the gravel, about 
three-score yards below the present bridge, a few small 


pieces of silver coin, of a description they liad never seen 

Sir Oswald Mosiey, Bart./ in referring to the history of 
this Earl of Lancaster, gives the following account of the 
finding of these coins : ' Mr Webb, the proprietor of the 
cotton mills at Tutbury, being desirous to obtain a greater 
fall for what is commonly termed the tail-water of the wheel 
which works the machinery of his mill, prolonged an 
embankment between the mill-stream and the river much 
farther below the bridge than it formerly extended ; and 
as a part of his plan, it became requisite to remove a con- 
siderable quantity of gravel out of the bed of the river, 
from the end of his water-course as far up as the new 
bridge. While they were engaged in this operation, on 
Wednesday, the ist of June, 1831, the workmen found 
several small pieces of silver coin about sixty yards below 
the bridge ; as they proceeded up the river, they continued 
to find more ; these were discovered lying about half-a- 
yard below the surface of the gravel, apparently as if they 
had been washed down from a higher source. On the 
following Tuesday the men left their work in the ex- 
pectation of finding more coin, and they were not dis- 
appointed, for several thousands were obtained that day ; 
as they advanced up the river they became more suc- 
cessful ; and the next day, Wednesday, June the 8th, 
they discovered the grand deposit of coins from whence 
the others had been washed, about thirty yards below the 
present bridge, and from four to five feet beneath the 
surface of the gravel. The coins were here so abundant, 
that one hundred and fifty were turned up in a single 

' History of the Town and Houses of Tutbury. 


shovelful of grav^el, and nearly five thousand of them 
were collected by two of the individuals thus employed on 
that day ; they were sold to the bystanders at six, seven, 
eight, or eight shillings and sixpence per hundred ; but 
the next day a less quantity was procured, and the prices 
of them advanced accordingly. The bulk of the coins 
were found in a space of about three yards square, near 
the Derbyshire bank of the river. Upwards of three 
hundred individuals might have been seen engaged in 
this search at one time, and the idle and inquisitive were 
attracted from all quarters to the spot. Quarrels and 
disturbances naturally enough ensued, and the interference 
of the neighbouring magistrates became necessary. 

'At length the officers of the Crown asserted the king's 
right to all coin which might subsequently be found in 
the bed of the river, since the soil thereof belonged to his 
Majesty in right of his duchy of Lancaster.' 

The consequence was, that all persons were prohibited 
from collecting coin except those appointed by the Chan- 
cellor of the duchy, who, on behalf of the Crown, instituted 
a search on the 28th of June that lasted until the ist of 
July. In this brief period more than 1500 additional 
coins were found, and then the excavation from which 
they were principally extracted was filled up and levelled 
over. The total number of coins thus found is supposed 
to have been, upon the most moderate computation, no 
less than 100,000. 

Often those who found one of these pieces had much 
difficulty in detaching it from the gravel in which it had 
become imbedded. Having been for so long a period 
lying amid the soil which once formed the bed of the 



stream, and on which the water had gradually deposited 
stratum upon stratum of sand and pebbles, the mass had 
become a hard substance, scarcely yielding in solidity to 
stone itself, in which coin after coin appeared to form 
some of the original component parts. Pieces of iron 
from the waggon or chest had also, in the process of 
oxidation, become pulpy, and still firmer bound and in- 
creased the strange conglomerate. 

The earl's chest appears to have contained some curious 
and varied specimens of the currency then in use. Besides 
a number of sterlings of the Empire, Brabant, Lorraine, 
and Hainault, and the Scotch coins of Alexander II., 
John Baliol, and Robert Bruce, there was found a com- 
plete English series of those of the first Edward (fig. 150), 

who, at various times, had 

his money struck at several 
towns in England, Scotland, 
and Ireland. There were 
also specimens of all the pre- 
latical coins of Edward I., Edward II., as well as many of 
Henry III., — both of his first and second coinage, — and a 
few of the most early of Edward II. On the whole, a finer 
museum of English, Scotch, and Irish coins was never be- 
fore, under any circumstances, thrown open to the inspec- 
tion of the antiquary and historian. Yet it seems very sur- 
prising that the English coins found should, with only one 
exception, have been of the same small size and value. 
This exception was a very beautiful coin of silver, about the 
size of half-a-crown, and of the reign of Edward I. Nor 
is it less surprising that the chest should have contained 
no jewellery or other valuable articles, one ring alone 



being found in the river, which was probably lost by some 
one of the earl's officers in fording. It was rudely chased, 
and bore within the circle the motto ' Spreta vivant.' ' 

Fortunately for our 
subject, a mass of this 
ferro - argentine con- 
glomerate was pur- 
chased from the finder, 
and is now in the pos- 
session of Llewellynn 
Jewitt, Esq., of Win- 
ster Hall, near Mat- 
lock, Derbyshire. In 
this is most wonder- 

fig- 152 

fully imbedded several horse-shoes of the shape here de- 
lineated, and which have been most kindly drawn and 
engraved for me by that gentleman, as although they 
were the most perfect specimens, they were vet too friable 
to travel safely for my inspection (fig. 151, 152). 
' Penny Magazine. No. 166, p. 430. 


In all probability, on the eventful night on which the 
treasure was lost, the waggon and horses conveying it 
were also left to perish in the Dove. 

From the examination I have been able to make of 
the other shoes, it appears that the horses were small. 
One specimen would, when perfect, have been about ^^ 
inches wide, and 4^ long. It had a small raised (not 
rolled-over) calkin on one side ; only three nail-holes were 
visible on each branch, and the shoe altogether was very 
narrow and light, as if it had been worn by a saddle- 
horse. The iron appeared to be fibrous and of excellent 
quality. Another half-shoe was a trifle smaller, had three 
holes on each side, and the calkin was formed by doubling 
over the end of the thin branch, as in the Chedworth and 
Gillingham specimens. Completely encased in a compact 
slab of rusty-coloured conglomerate, a portion of which 
has been removed, is one more example that may have 
been a little larger, though it is still a small shoe, and 
would fit a horse between 14 and 15 hands high; while a 
fragment of another, though about the same dimensions, 
had a little more cover or breadth, and probably was worn 
by one of the waggon-horses. 

None of these show any traces of toe-clips ; all have 
the even border of the present shoe, and their holes are 
the ordinary quadrilateral apertures with which we are 
now familiar; they have not been fullered or widely 
stamped for the nail-heads. Both surfaces appear to have 
been plane ; and altogether the shoes are not of a bad type, 
but one that, if the hoofs were not mutilated by paring, 
could do a horse but little harm. 

In the interesting chronicles of Froissart, we find many 


interesting details about shoeing. Describing the fifst 
attempted invasion of Scotland by Edward II., he gives us 
an instance of the importance this art was assuming, and 
what an amount of inconvenience might be apprehended 
when circumstances prevented its being attended to. 
When the army of that king had marched as far as New- 
castle-on-Tyne, the cavalry were in a miserable plight, 
and apparently ineffective. ' It never seased to rayne all 
the hoole weeke, whereby theyre saddels, pannels, and 
counter-syngles were all rottyn and broke, and most part 
of their horses hurt on their backs : nor they had not 
wherewith to shoo them that were unshodde.' When the 
troops reached Durham, however, they were obliged to 
rest there for two days, ' and the oste rounde about, for 
they coulde not all lodge within the cite, and theyre 
horses ivere neice shoode, and set out on theyre march to 
York.' ' 

In these chronicles, embracing as they do, the latter 
part of the reign of Edward II., and terminating with the 
coronation of Henry IV., there is repeated mention of 
shoeing, and particularly in the wars which England was 
then waging on the Continent. In the great army 
Edward III. carried into France in 1359, — the greatest, 
according to Froissart, that had ever left England, we 
hnd a completeness in equipment and material which is 
somewhat astonishing when we look at the present con- 
dition of our army and consider its fitness for a continental 
war, particularly in the matter of land transport. Our 
warrior king appears to have omitted nothing that could 
render success impossible. On arriving at Calais, he 

' Chronicles, edit. 1812. Vol. i. p. 2r. 


' took the field with the largest army and best-appointed 
train of baggage-waggons that had ever quitted England. 
It was said there were upwards of 6000 carts and wag- 
gons, which had all been brought with him.' ' Describing 
the order of march, Froissart goes on to say that ' in the 
rear of the king's battalion was the immense baggage- 
train, which occupied two leagues in length : it consisted 
of upwards of 5000 carriages, with a sufficiency of horses 
to carry the provisions for the army, and those utensils 
never' before accustomed to be carried after an army — swch. 
as hand-mills to grind their corn, ovens to bake their 

bread, and a variety of other necessary articles 

There were also in this army of the King of England, 
500 pioneers with spades and pickaxes, to level the roads 
and cut down trees and hedges, for the more easily pass- 
ing of the carriages I must inform you that the 

King of England and his rich lords were followed by carts 
laden with tents, pavilions, mills, Sind forges, to grind their 
corn and make shoes for their horses, and everything of 
that sort which might be wanting.' ^ This appears to 
have been the first occasion on which field forges for 
shoeing horses accompanied an army, as well as ovens to 
bake the soldiers' bread. The introducer of these, as well 
as of artillery, appears to have even made an approach 
towards the employment of pontoons not very unlike, 
so far as material is concerned, those which are now being 
brought into use in the Royal Engineers ; for we read 

' Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries. 
Edit. I. Johnes. Vol. ii. p. 469. London, 1808. 
' Ibid. Vol. ii. pp. 2, 3, 29. 


that ' there were on these carts many vessels and small 
boats, made surprisingly well of boiled leather.' ' 

By a statute of 1350 (2, c. 4, 25 Edward III.), it 
appears that the farrier was yet designated in the Norman 
French, then fashionable in legal and court language, the 
' Ferrour des Chivaux ; ' and with a number of other' 
craftsmen, such as saddlers, spur-makers, armourers, &c., 
was regularly sworn-in before the justices to do and use 
his craft in a proper manner, and to confine himself 
to it." 

Gloucester has been alluded to on several occasions 
not only as a repository of antique horse-shoes, but also as 
a town celebrated for its iron trade from time immemorial 
— a circumstance due to its proximity to the mineral dis- 
tricts of the Forest of Dean.^ The business of nail-making 

' Ibid. p. 29. * Statutes of the Realm, vol. i. p. 312. 

^ The Rev. S. Lysons, Honorary Canon of Gloucester Cathedral, has 
most kindly furnished me with the following particulars relative to Glou- 
cester, its iron-trade, and its arms. ' Gloucester was celebrated for its 
smiths, being so near the mines of the Forest of Dean, which were 
worked both by the Romans and the Britons ; coins of the former 
and tools of the latter having been found in them. The Via Falrorum 
of Roman Gloucester still retains the name of Long Smith Street. 
The chief employment of the town of Gloucester, before the reign of 
William the Conqueror, was making and forging of iron ; and in the 
times of King Richard II. and Henry IV. it was famous for its iron 
manufacture. The ore was brought from Robin "Wood's Hill, about 
two miles from the city, where it is said to have been found in great 
abundance. This town had anciently its proper signature. On an old 
seal of the time of King Edward III., which is still used for recogniz- 
ances, on each side of the ofHgy is a horse-shoe j one horse-nail near 
it, and three below it, two and one ; with the like number above it 
placed in the same order. It is said that King Richard III., when he 
made this a Mayor town, gave it his sword and cap of maintenance. 
The arms of the town was then "a sword erect, with a cap of mainten- 



appears to have been carried on in it for a long time prior 
to the Norman conquest ; and local tradition has it that 
the royal farrier, a rather important personage in his way, 
resided in that city. However this may be, it is certain 
that horse-shoes and nails must have been looked upon as 
important articles in the reign of King Edward III., and 
have held a prominent place in the crafts of the town, as 
the corporation seal of that epoch — for an impression of 

which I am indebted 
to Mr Fryer, town- 
clerk of Gloucester — 
exhibits the royal effigy 
reared upon a lion 
couchant, and sur- 
rounded by a number 
of these emblems of 
farriery. The annexed 
drawing (fig. 153) 
represents this curious 
memento of days passed away. It is the exact size of the 

ance on the point, on each side a horse-shoe, and three nails at lenglh on 
the base." 

' In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the city used a seal which had in 
the middle a sword in bend, the pommel in base, between six horse- 
shoes and ten horse-nails. Christopher Barber, Garter Principal King- 
at-Arms in 1538, granted to the city the following arms : Vert, a pale 
or, a sword azure besanted the hilt and pommel gules ; upon the point 
a cap of maintenance purple, lined ermine j upon the field two horse- 
shoes argent pierced sable, between six horse-nails in triangle. On a 
chief party per pale or and purple, a boar's head coupee argent ; in his 
mouth a quince apple gules between two roses. These elaborate arms 
have disappeared, and horse-shoes and nails are no longer a part of the 
armorial bearings of the city.' 


seal, which bears the inscription, S. Edwardi : Reg : 
Angl : Ad : Recogn : Debitor : Apud : Gloucester : 

Connected with this period, it may be noted that a few 
years ago a large number of shoes were collected on the 
farm of West Nisbet, Berwickshire, which is supposed to 
be the site of the battle of Nisbet Muir, fought in 1355, 
between the English and Scots. No description has been 
given of these relics, save that they were of an uncom- 
monly small size;' and I have been unable to trace their 
whereabouts, though in all probability they were consigned 
to the metallurgical operations of the village blacksmith, 
and converted into defences for the hoofs of the larger and 
more peaceably designed steeds of the 19th century. 

As has been repeatedly noticed, the shoes worn by 
horses appear to have varied greatly in size after the Nor- 
man conquest ; a circumstance due, no doubt, to the in- 
troduction of larger breeds from the continent at different 
times. What these breeds of horses were it is difficult to 
say in some instances. From the size of the shoes previous 
to the conquest, we infer that the horses were small — 
from 12 to 14 hands high. The Normans had extensive 
breeding studs in Normandy, and no doubt improved 
their horses by crossing them with the Barb and Spanish 
races, and these would also be the breeds imported to 
England. For some time previous to his invasion, Wil- 
liam had been buying the best horses of Spain, Gascony, 
and Auvergne,^ and these, we may take for granted, ac- 
companied him. The size of their hoofs would not, how- 
ever, be much larger than those of the breeds already in 

' Trans. Socy. Scottish Antiquaries, vol. iii. 
" Guill. Pictav., apud Scrip. Franc. \i. 181. 


use in this country. During the reign of Henry II. 
(a.d. 1 154) armour became very heavy both on horse 
and man, and the lance had grown so ponderous that it 
could only be used couched ; ' great horses ' were therefore 
required. These were probably the largest and strongest 
of the imported, but light races. In the 13th century, 
horses of greater size and power were eagerly purchased 
on the continent, where attention had been recently paid 
to rearing this kind of animal, and sent to England. 
They were rare, however, and a pair from Lombardy, in 
121 7, cost the enormous sum of ^^38 13.9. ^.d. In the 
rich pastures of the river Po, a race of ponderous destriers 
or destrieros had been formed, which, if they at all re- 
sembled those figured by the early sculptors on the 
monuments and statues of Condotieri, were nearly equal 
to our largest breed of dray-horses.' But these importa- 
tions were so few in number, from the scarcity of the 
horses and their great expense, that they could make but 
little impression on the size of the common races in Eng- 
land, and consequently would not alter, to any very ap- 
preciable degree, the dimensions of the shoes. King John 
imported 100 chosen stallions from Flanders, and these 
were probably of large bulk and stature for those days ; 
while King Edward II. purchased 30 Lombardy war- 
horses and 12 heavy draught-horses. Up to this period, 
I think we have only the small and medium-sized shoe, 
with, or but seldom without, calkins ; and the rectangu- 
lar, countersunk nail-holes, but destitute of a toe-clip to 
catch the hoof in front and prevent the shoe driving 
backwards. In the reign of the last-named monarch, who 

' Smith. Naturalist's Library, p. 140. 



was particularly partial to ambling horses, and intro- 
duced that unnatural pace, in order to teach them, the 
fore-legs were trammeled or fastened together with bands 
of yarn, or even with iron fetters ' made by the farriers, 
whereby the unfortunate creatures were compelled to 
move in that shuffling oblique manner so much ad- 
mired. Sometimes, to expedite the process, the hind-feet 
were shod with shoes having a long sharp point at the 
toe, which struck the back of the fore-leg, and thus 
forced the animal to make a greater effort to move the 
manacled limb out of the way. These variations in the 
form of the shoe are not unfrequently met with in this 
country and on the continent, at this and a subsequent 
period. The most remarkable example we have met 
with" is one shown by Lafosse,^ Jun., as attached to the 
door of a chapel at Saint Severin, in France. It belongs 
to the time of Philip the Fair (13th and 14th centuries), and 
was supposed to have been 
placed there by some farrier, 
as a specimen of his work- 
manship. Its shape is ex- 
tremely curious, and it appears 
to have been intended to fol- 
low the whole natural outline 
of the hoof — frog as well as 
wall (fig. 154). 

It is not until a period bordering on the 14th or 

' An iron fetter and chain which must, I think, have been used for 
this purpose, was discovered, with horse-shoes, at Springhead, near 
Gravesend, and is now in the possession of Mr Sylvester at that place. 

* Cours d'Hippiatrique. Paris, 1798. Megnin. Op. cit. p. 62. 


15th century, or perhaps much later, that we find evi- 
dences of the employment of the grooved or fullered shoe 
in England ; and then we can only infer that it was im- 
ported from Germany and the Low Countries. This is 
somewhat remarkable, if we consider that this kind of plate 
is very ancient on the continent, M. Quiquerez tracing it 
back to the 5th century, and the Emperor Napoleon allot- 
ting it even to the era of the conquest of the Gauls by 
Julius Cassar. We may entertain some doubt of the latter 
being correct however, as M. Megnin has examined these 
Alesia specimens, and found many, if not all, with the un- 
dulating border. Shoes, we have seen from Mr Rogers's 
History, were largely bought in England ready made, and 
by the hundred, and many of these may have been im- 
ported. In Mercer's History of Dunfermline, it is stated 
that in the 15th century, Flemish horse-shoes were in 
demand in Scotland : ' Flanders was the great mart in 
those times, and from Bruges chiefly, the Scots imported 
even horse-shoes, harness, saddles, bridles, cart-wheels,' &c. 
All those found with the groove round their margin, 
so far as I can learn, have been of comparatively large 
size. One here represented (fig. 155) was found at Spring- 
head, near Gravesend (England). 
Its measurement indicates that 
it would fit a tolerably well-bred 
horse about 15^ hands high, or a 
coarse-bred one of a less height. 
Its length is 5 inches, width 4^ 
inches ; the breadth is variable ; 
fig- 155 '^ at the toe and one of the quarters 

it is i^ inch, and at the heels as much as 1^ inch. The 



grooV'C is very near the outer circumference of the shoe, 
and contains four nail-holes on each side ; these are ob- 
long and small, and a portion of a nail yet remaining is 
not unlike our present nail. There is no toe or other clip, 
and the outer circumference of the shoe is thinner than the 
inner, in such a way that the ground surface is slightly con- 
vex, and that towards the foot, particularly at the heels, is 
concave. There are no calkins, and the shoe altogether is 
coarse and heavy. Though much worn and oxidized, it 
yet weighs nearly 12 ounces. 

Another specimen, found in excavating for a sewer in 
Walworth road, London (fig. 156), in 1825, is very simi- 
lar in shape and character. 
It was discovered at a depth 
of 10 feet, and from the fashion 
of a buckle procured with it, 
is assigned by Mr Syer Cum- 
ing ' to the first half of the 
17th century; though I am 
inclined to give it an earlier 
date. It is of large size, with 
a wide surface grooved or fullered very near the margin, 
and apparently had eight nail-holes. The heels were furn- 
ished with thin calkins, and near one of them occurs the 
letters HI. A shoe of the same kind was dug from a 
depth of 12 or 14 feet, in making a sewer in Kennington 
Lane, London. From their scarcity, they do not appear 
to have been in very great repute, and are found along 
with the square-holed shoe. 

The period of Edward III. and his gallant son, the 

' .Tournal of the Archaeological Association, vol. \ i. 

fig- 156 


Black Prince, was the most glorious, perhaps, in the 
annals of chivalry. Then, gentlemen scorned the idea of 
fighting otherwise than on horseback, and the universal 
motto of the knighthood of Europe was ' Tout Tamor, 
tout a I'honor ; ' then the squire, during his final period 
of probation, groomed, trained, and shod his own horses ; 
practised leaping, running, and mounting on horseback, 
clad in all his armour, and resolutely attacked the 
quintain ; and the most menial offices were raised to an 
honourable degree by the dignity of the person who per- 
formed them. But of all the services rendered by the 
squire to the knight, the most important were naturally 
those which were connected directly or indirectly with the 
grand object of the lives of both, war. 'When the 
knight mounted his horse, the squires of his body held 
his stirrup ; and other squires carried the various pieces 
of his armour, such as the brassards, the gauntlets, the 
helmet, and the buckler, on the road behind him. With 
regard to the cuirass, or hauberk, the knight was no less 
careful of its preservation than the Greek and Roman 
soldiers were of their bucklers. Other squires bore the 
pennon, the lance, and the sword. When only on a 
journey, the knight rode a short-tailed, ambling-paced 
horse — a palfrey or a courser ; and the war-horses were 
led by the squires, who by always leading them in their 
right hand, obtained for them the name of " dextriers." 
The war-horse was delivered to the knight on the appear- 
ance of an enemy, or when he was about entering the 
field of battle : this was what they called " mounting the 
great horse." ' 

When travelling, the squire carried his master's hel- 


met resting upon the pommel of his saddle ; and when 
preparing for fight, this helmet and all the other parts of 
his arms, offensive and defensive, were given him by the 
different squires, who had them in their keeping ; all 
evincing equal eagerness in assisting him to arm. By 
this means they were taught the art of arming themselves 
on a future day, and with the despatch and caution 
necessary for the protection of their persons. It de- 
manded much skill and ability to place together and 
fasten the joints of the cuirass, and the other pieces of 
armour; to fit and lace the helmet upon the head with 
correctness ; and to nail and rivet carefully the visor or 
ventail.' The burgesses and yeomen, who were not by 
the rules of chivalry permitted to enter the lists as com- 
batants at jousts and tournaments, nor to appear mounted, 
used in England to tilt on foot against a large wooden 
shield on which a horse-shoe was painted.'' In a manu- 
script in the Bodleian Library (No. 264, and dated 1344), 
there are delineations of both the fixed and movable 
quintain, upon each of which is a large horse-shoe re- 
markable for its equal breadth, the ends of the branches 
being turned out and somewhat upwards, and from their 
being pierced with nail-holes throughout their entire 
length. This is indeed the form of shoe which, in 
heraldry, according to Guillim, is borne by the families 
of Borlace, Cripps, Crispe, Ferrers, Randall, and Shoys- 

The very heavy armour worn by man and horse at 

' L. de Sainte-Palaye. Mem. sur I'Ancienne Chevalerie. Paris, 
1826. " Strutt. Sports and Pastimes, p. 117. 

^ Sifcr CtiDiing. Op. fit. 


this period, and even up to the i6th century, necessitated 
the employment of horses more like our lumbering 
draught breed than chargers, and these were first obtained 
from Lombardy. Their excellence is described by 
Chaucer in the ' Squire's Tale ' : 

' Great was the press that swarmed to and fro, 
To gazen on this horse that standeth so ; 
For it so high was, and so broad and long, 
So well proportioned for to be strong, 
Right as it were a steed of Lombardy : — 
Therewith so hoarsely and so quick of eye 
As it a gentle PoHsh courser were j 
For certes from his tail unto his ear 
Nature nor Art could him not amend 
In no degree, as all the people ween'd.' 

But the Flemish horse, the probable progenitor of our 
heaviest breeds, was at an early period in high repute as 
a war-horse, and adapted to carry the enormous loads 
imposed upon him, when pace was not so much an object 
as strength to bear weight and withstand the shock of an 
encounter with couched lances. These horses were often- 
times severely tested before final acceptance as fit for the 
fray ; and strong large shoes, with projecting calkins and 
nail-heads, were not only an indispensable necessity for 
ordinary duty, but for the more important contests in the 
field, where a good grip of the turf by the horse's feet 
was as requisite as a firm seat on its back. This is well 
illustrated in the case of the redoubtable Chatelain of 
Waremme, who, in 1325, was the leader of the Awans, a 
powerful faction in Belgium. He was a man of such 
gigantic bulk, that, when he was encased in his armour, 
it required the assistance of two strong esquires to lift him 
into the saddle. His friends, on the morning of a great 



battle with an opposing faction — the Waroux — expressed 
to him their fear that he was too heavily armed, but De 
Waremme replied, ' Have no fear, for I swear to you, by 
God and St George, that since it has required two men 
to seat me on my good steed Moreal, it shall take at least 
four to make me get off again.' And this was no idle 
vaunt, as the events of the day proved. 

Another gigantic warrior who fought for the Awans 
was the Sire de Hemricourt. The strength of limb and 
massiveness of frame of this man were such that, except 
his stirrup-leathers broke, it was impossible to unhorse 
him; and in confirmation of his prowess, the following 
story is told : Being engaged as one of lifty knights 
chosen to fight on the side of the King of Sicily, against 
an equal party for the King of Arragon, a war-horse was 
sent to him by the king to ride on the day of battle. 
But Hemricourt, like the champion of Israel in the 
choice of his weapons, would not trust his steed till he 
had tried him. He therefore mounted, and, accompanied 
by some friends and attendants, rode out into the country, 
and, coming to a large lime-tree, he got off his horse, and 
made his squires fasten his girths as he directed. He 
then mounted again, and having had his legs tightly tied 
to the girths, he seized a thick branch of the tree with 
his right hand, and drove his spurs into his courser's 
flanks ; but in spite of all its efforts, the horse was unable 
to get away. Hemricourt, therefore, sent back the ani- 
mal to the king, saying that it wanted both strength and 
courage, and was dull to the spur. The king then sent 
him another, which he submitted to the same test, and 
the struggle between man and horse was long and violent. 


At length, owing to the girths and the po'itrail breaking, 
the steed got away, leaving the knight and his saddle 
suspended from the tree. This horse the Sire de Hemri- 
court kept, though an ignominious fate awaited it. When 
the knight and his associates came to the place appointed 
for the combat, the Arragonese did not appear, and the 
King of Sicily, taking advantage of the circumstance, 
meanly required that the horses should be returned. 
When the messenger came to De Hemricourt, ' What,' 
cried he, ' has the king, your master, only lent me this 
carrion to defend his honour at the risk of my life — I 
who am no subject of his ? Is it thus he shows his 
gratitude ? By the eyes of God, he shall have his present 
back again, but in such a state that no knight shall ever 
mount him again with honour ! ' So saying, he had the 
horse brought out of the stable, and, with his own hands 
cutting off the mane and tail, desired the groom to lead 
him away.' 

'In those times of war,' writes the old author, Hameri- 
court,^ ' and even ten years after the peace was made, 
knights and squires of honour rode great horses {crastriers) 
or coursers {corseirs) of the greatest value they could 
procure, and they had very high tourneying saddles 
without foresaltiers. They were covered with caparisons 
wrought in embroidery with their armorial blasons. They 
were armed with breast-plates with good armour of thin 
iron pieces, and upon the plate they had rich wardcoats 
bearing their blasons. Each had a helmet upon his 

' Miroir des Nobles de la Hesbaye. The Valley of the Meuse, by 
Dudley Costello. 

^ De Bellis Leodunsibus, cap. 41. 



bacinet witli a handsome crest ; and several lords, knights, 
and others had beneath the drapery of their caparisons 
ringed mail for their horses.' And in a manuscript 
work entitled the ' Guerre des Awans et des Warons,' 
recording the party wars among the people of Liege at 
this time, the horse-shoe is described as ' large fer a cheval 
ot, a talons moult crochus.' 

The 'great horse,' the arms and armour, and the 
large shoes with high calkins, are well depicted in the 
German knight painted by Lucas Cranach in the 15th 
century (fig. 157). 


In Scotland, it might be inferred that horses for riding 
purposes were generally shod, though those for draught 
were not ordinarily so, if we may judge from an act 
passed in 1487. An Act of Parliament was passed 
in 1 48 1, which made the smith who pricked a horse's 
foot while shoeing it liable to furnish another until the 
cripple was cured, or if it died, to pay its value.' This, 
in many respects unjust, law was procured by the Duke 
of Albany and his brother, the Earl of Mar. It is difficult, 
if not impossible, to discover how much the unfortunate 
farrier was likely to lose if the animal he had accidentally 
lamed happened to die, as the value of horses appears to 
have fluctuated considerably in Scotland for three cen- 
turies. In 1283, for instance, a burgess's steed was valued 
at one pound; in 1329, a courier's horse was supposed to 
be worth five shillings; and in 1424, a colt, or horses 
more than three years old, thirteen shillings and four- 

Though horses were always extremely numerous in 
the Scottish armies, yet they were seldom, if ever, used 
for agricultural purposes ; ploughing being generally per- 
formed by oxen. 

For a long period, much attention had been paid to 
breeding good horses. So early as the 13th century, we 
find Roger Avenel, Lord of Eskdale, possessing a stud in 
that valley. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, in preparation for 
his departure to the Holy Land (a.d. 1247), sold to the 
Monks of Melrose his stud of brood mares in Lauderdale, 
for the considerable sum of one hundred marks sterling. 
' Skee/i. Parliament 148 1, cap. 79. 


Alexander III. had several establishments for rearing 
horses, to be used in hunting as well as in war/ 

I cannot find any record of the price of shoes in 
Scotland at this period. It is merely mentioned that in 
1488, a dozen horse-shoes, two plough-irons, and the iron 
mountings of two ploughs which had been stolen, were 
valued at twenty shillings.^ And in the Thane of Caw- 
dor's Western Journey in 1591, there is an entry in his 
journal of expenses to the eftect, that at Glasgow, one of 
the items in the host's bill was ' giffin to the smyth for 
your broun geldin's schoun xiij s iiij d.^ 

The English statutes of the reign of Edward VI. 
(1547-52) give us an approximate idea of the size of the 
horses commonly in use in England and Scotland. The 
stallions allowed to be imported into England for breed- 
ing purposes were to be fourteen hands high, and the 
mares fifteen hands. 

So important did Henry VIII., the father of Edward 
VI., consider the possession of large and good horses, that 
he devised a law by which it was intended that none but 
these should be kept in the country, fixing a standard of 
value for that purpose, and regulating that the lowest 
stallion should be fifteen hands high, and the mares 
thirteen hands ; and before they had arrived at their full 
growth, no stallion at two years old, under fourteen hands 
and a half, was permitted to run on any forest, moor, or 

' C. Lines. Sketches of Early Scotch History, p. 131. Edinburgh, 

Acts of the Lords of the Council in Civil Causes, p. 106. 
^ C. Lines. Sketches of Early Scotch Domestic History. Edin- 
burgh, 1 86 1. 



common where there were mares. At Michaelmas tide, 
the neighbouring magistrates were ordered to 'drive' all 
forests and commons, and not only destroy such stallions, 
but all the ' unlikely tits,' whether mares, geldings, or foals, 
which they might deem not calculated to produce a valu- 
able breed. He moreover ordained, that in every deer- 
park, in proportion to its size, a certain number of mares, 
at least thirteen hands high, should be kept ; and that all 
his prelates and nobles, and ' all those whose wives wore 
velvet bonnets,' should keep stallions for the saddle, at 
least fifteen hands high. 

The ' delicate stratagem ' of shoeing a troop of horses 
with felt on particular occasions, as hinted at by Shake- 
speare, was tolerably well realized at least half a century 
before the immortal bard had made any progress in 
establishing his fame, and from the following incident 
he may have derived the idea he afterwards introduced 
into ' King Lear.' In Lord Herbert's ' Life of Henry 
VIIL,'' it is stated that that monarch, while in France, 
'having feasted the ladies royally for divers days, de- 
parted from Tourney to Lisle (October 13, 15 13), 
whither he was invited by the Lady Margaret, who 
caused there a juste to be held in an extraordinary 
manner ; the place being a large room raised high from 
the ground by many steps, and paved with black square 
stones like marble ; while the horses, to prevent sliding, 
were shod with felt or flocks (the Latin words are feltro 
sive tomento), after which the ladies danced all night.' 

It is supposed that in the Guildhall of London, on the 
occasion of the marriage of Katharine of Aragon (after- 

' Kt'imet. History of England, vol. ii. p. 17- 



wards wife of Henry VIII.), and Arthur, Prince of Wales, 
the floor being of marble, and a tournament taking place 
on it, the horses were shod with felt.' 

For the reign of Henry VIII. we have an excellent 
representation of shod horses in what is known as the 
' tournament roll,' or descriptive illustrations of the 
' Solemn Justs held at Westminster,' on the 5th February, 
15 10, in the ist year of that king, in honour of Queen 
Katharine. Every horse in the long procession has its 
feet armed in the most unmistakable manner.^ The one 
we select (fig. 158) exhibits this characteristic; and it will be 

observed that the shoes are yet very clumsy, and have the 
calkins and nail-heads very large, to aftbrd a firm grasp of 
the ground. The nails appear to be four on each side of 
the shoe. 

' Notes and Queries. 2nd Series, vol. ix. p. 394. 
" This procession has been engraved i;i ihe Vetusta Monumenta, 
vol. i. 



From specimens I have examined belonging to this 
period, it might be concluded that the weight of the shoes 
continued gradually to increase, while the sizes and forms 
occur in greater variety. Heavy armour and the tilting- 
lance had not yet gone out of fashion, as the projecting 
nail-heads and calkins sufficiently indicate. Some curious 
specimens of shoes can be seen on the feet of the wooden 
horses in the armour-gallery of the Tower of London ; 
these, I understand, belong to Henry VIII.'s reign. 

It is somewhat astonishing that no toe-clips to prevent 
displacement of the shoes have yet appeared. The speci- 
men found at a depth of ten feet in the Walworth sewer 
works in 1825, along with the bones of a horse, was pro- 
bably made at this period. It has four nails on the outer 
branch, and apparently only three on the inner, which 
is much narrower towards the heel, as is often the case 
now-a-days. There are calkins on both branches, and the 
nail-head in the last inside hole projects nearly three- 
eighths of an inch from the surface of the shoe (fig. 159). 

With the total extinction of 
the French language in Britain, 
the designation of ' Marechal ' 
also disappeared, or was used 
but very rarely. The shoer of 
horses was only known by that 
of ' farrier,' a term that had, as 
we have seen, been employed 
for centuries, and which was derived, no doubt, from the 
ferreus faber of the Latins, or the fabbro ferrario oxfer- 
raro of the Italians. In Queen Elizabeth's annual ex- 
penses — civil and military, we find that the Master of 


the Horse had in his gift, among many others belong- 
ing to his office, that of a Serjeant-Farrier at i^. id. 
per diem, and three Yeomen-Farriers at 6d. And numer- 
ous instances of the newly revived name are to be dis- 
covered in writings of this and later ages. Chapman, in 
his translation of the ' Iliad,' has it ; 

So took she chamber with her son, the God of Ferrary. 

And Heywood, in the 'Troia Brittanica' (1609), writes: 

And thus resolv'd, to Lemnos she doth hie. 
Where Vulcan works in heavenly Ferrarie. 

The value of shoeing yet held a high place in eques- 
trianism and among equestrians, and much im.portance 
was attached to shoes, either as relics, or for purposes of 
display. We have already seen to what an extent this 
was carried at Okeham ; it was also in vogue elsewhere, 
and often gave rise to strange customs which continued 
to a late period. For instance, in the Preston Pilot for 
1834, it is mentioned 'that a large assembly congregated 
for the purpose of witnessing the renewing of the horse- 
shoe at the Horse-shoe corner, Lancaster, when the old 
shoe was taken up and a new one put down, with 1834 
engraved on it. Those who assembled to witness the 
ceremony were entertained with nut-brown ale, &c. ; after- 
wards they had a merry chairing, and then retired. In the 
evening they were again entertained with a good substantial 
supper. This custom is supposed to hav^ originated at 
the time John O'Gaunt (third son of Edward I.) came 
into the town upon a noble charger, which lost its shoe at 
this place. The shoe was taken up and fixed in the mid- 
dle of the street, and has ever since been replaced with a 


new one every seventh year, at the expense of the towns- 
men who reside near the place.' 

Examples of ostentatious extravagance in horse-shoes 
are numerous in the middle and succeeding ages. During 
the Roman period, we have already remarked that attempts 
at display in this particular direction were made by the 
wife of Nero and others, when golden or gilded solecp 
were fastened on the feet of mules or horses. Gold and 
silver shoes and nails were fashionable, it appears, among 
the wealthy who were ostentatiously inclined, to so late a 
period as the 1 7th century. When Boniface, Marquis 
of Tuscany, one of the wealthiest princes of his time, went 
in 1083, to meet Beatrix, mother of the famous Matilda, 
marchioness of Tuscany, who married Godfrey of Lor- 
raine, his escort was so grandly equipped, that instead of 
iron, the horses had silver shoes and nails, and when any 
of these came off they were the property of those who 
picked them up. 

Qui dux cum peregret illo, 
Ornatos magnos secum tulit atqvie caballos. 
Sub pedibus quorum chalybem non ponere solum 
Jusserat, argentum sed ponere, sic quasi ferrum 
Esse repercussum clavum voluit quoque nullum. 
Ex hoc ut gento possent reperire quis esset. 
Cornipedes currunt, argentum dum resilit, tunc 
Colligitur passim, passim reperitur in agris, 
A populo terrae testans quod dives hie esset.' 

Bartholomeus Scriba, in his Annales Gennenses, for the 
year 1230, asserts that a certain man, named Ermemolinus, 
gave eight thousand bizantines to Genoa, as a mark of 
his affection and friendship ; and with this money the 

' Donhone, Vita Mathilda, lib. i. cap. 10. 


very best horse that could be procured was to be pur- 
chased, and presented from him to the community of 
that town, covered with the best gold, and shod with 
silver shoes {ferri pedatus clapponis argenteis) ; which 
horse or destrier (charger) was bought and led through 
the state of Genoa, as a remembrance of his noble act, 
robed in a cloth of gold, and wearing silver shoes {clap- 
ponis argenteis).'^ 

Giovanni Villani, the Italian historian, who lived in the 
14th century, in his writings speaks of horses adorned with 
bridles of gold and shoes of fine silver: ' Havendo ornato 
il suo cavallo di freno d'oro, e ferrato di fine argento.' "" 

The ' Roman de Rose,' a French romance of the 12th 
century, speaks of gilt or golden shoes : 

Pour fere gens parler de foi. 
Fist tous les quatre fers dorer 
Ne vout mie dire Ferrer. 

William of Tyre, for the year a.d. i 130, in describing 
Boemond, a brother of Robert Guiscard, Count of Apulia, 
and who was assigned the principality of Antioch after the 
first Crusade, relates how ' he sent to a distinguished noble- 
man, through a friend of his, a white palfrey shod with 
silver shoes {argento ferratum), and a beautiful bridle 
ornamented with silver.' ^ 

Johannis Bromton, describing the journey of Duke 
Robert to the East, states that at Rome he placed a 
valuable mantle on the statue of Constantine, putting to 
shame the Romans, who refused to bestow one even in 
many years. ' He rode, also, a certain mule whose shoes 

' Muratori. Vol. vi. ' Lib. iv. cap. 18. 

3 Bellis Sacra Historia, p. 311. Basil, 1549. 


were made of gold {cmri fecit ferrari), and prohibited his 
servants from picking these up when they fell off.' ' 

In the iith century, the first Norwegian king, Oluf 
Kyrre, the Quiet (1066 — 1087), introduced many new 
and extravagant customs into his country. Mr de Capell 
Brooke, describing them, informs us that ' the former in- 
clination of the Norwegians to magnificence universally 
increased. Silken sails, golden shoes for their horses, 
cushions of down with silk hangings, silken hoods em- 
broidered with silver, gilded helmets, etc., were almost 
necessary to those who sought the Court.' ^ 

In the Saga of Sigurd Jorsalafar, the Pilgrim of Jeru- 
salem, or Crusader, who reigned in Norway in 1103, ^^ ^^ 
told that he had his horse shod with golden shoes when 
he rode into Constantinople, on his way to the Holy Land, 
and so managed that one of the shoes came off in the 
streets, but none of his men were allowed to regard it.^ 

We have elsewhere given other examples of this silly 
fashion at this epoch. 

Even so late as 1 616, we read that James Hayes, after- 
wards Lord Doncaster, an English ambassador, when he 
made his public entry into Paris acted in a similar ex- 
travagant manner. ' Six trumpeters and two marshals, 
in tawny velvet liveries, completely suited, laced all over 
with gold (richly and closely laid), led the way : the 
ambassador followed, with a great train of pages and foot- 
men in the same rich livery, encircling his horse. And 
some said (how truly I cannot assert) the ambassador's 

' Abbatis Jornalensis. Edit. Twysden, p. 911, i6'52. 

" History ofNorw^ay from the Earliest Times, by G. L. Baden, p. 172. 

3 S. Sturleson. The Heimskrinela. 


horse was shod with silver shoes, lightly tackt on ; and 
when he came to a place where persons or beauties of 
eminency were, his very horse prancing and curvetting 
in humble reverence threw his shoes away, which the 
greedy understanders scrambled for, and he was content 
to be gazed on and admired till a farrier, or rather the 
argentier, in one of his rich liveries, among his train of 
footmen, out of a tawny velvet bag took others and tackt 
them on, which lasted till he came to the next troup of 
grandees ; and thus, with much ado, he reached the 
Louvre.' ' 

At a still later period, we find Duke Eberhard of Wlir- 
temberg causing his dead charger to be skinned and stuffed, 
and its hoofs shod with gold shoes, before being set up 
at Stuttgart. The creature had saved his master's life by 
swimming with him at the battle of Hochstadt, 13th 
August, 1704; but was accidently shot eight days after- 
wards, through the carelessness of one of the duke's 

Von Tschudi ^ mentions that during the brilliant period 
of the Spanish domination in Peru, like signs of wealth 
and foolish display were in vogue among the conquerors. 
Incredible sums were frequently expended on carriages and 
mules ; and very often the tires of the caleza wheels and 
the shoes of the mules were of silver instead of iron. A 
Tartar song of the 14th century causes a Mongol khan 
to say, ' Bid the horses be put to my golden chariot, and 
let them be shod with golden shoes and silver nails.' ^ 

The liberality of the knights during the hey-day of 

' JHIsous James I. p. 94. ^ Travels in Peru, p. 138. 

^ Chodzko. Popular Poetry of Persia. 


chivalry often rose to as fantastic heights as in this extrava- 
gant display of James Hayes. For instance, when Alex- 
ander III. of Scotland repaired to London, attended by a 
hundred knights, at the time of the coronation of Edward 
I., the whole party, as soon as they had alighted, let loose 
their steeds, all most richly caparisoned, to be scrambled 
for by the multitude. This was probably new to the Eng- 
lish chivalry, and no doubt startled them not a little : five, 
however, of the English nobles immediately followed the 
example set them. 

In the 1 6th century we have a complete treatise — the 
first, on shoeing, from the pen of Cassar Fiaschi,' a mas- 
terly production of its kind, and in which no less than 
^^ chapters are devoted to this subject. From the care 
with which they are written, the sound sense that pervades 
many of them, the faculty of observation, and the great 
number of shoes devised to meet certain wants, we con- 
clude that this artist was no ordinary workman, but an 
enthusiast in hippology — a man of talent, and a scholar. 
His masterly production forms the basis of nearly all the 
treatises subsequently written on horse-shoeing. The space 
at our disposal permits but a very limited notice of its con- 
tents. The first chapter, which serves as an introduction, 
makes known that ' there are found to-day very few good 

' Traite de la Maniere de Bien Emboucher, Manier, et Ferrer les 
Clievaux ; avec les figures de Mors de Bride, Tours et Maniements et 
Fers qui y sont propres. Dedie au Roi Henri II. Paris, 1564. This 
is the French translation of the Italian work. There were also pub- 
lished in Italy, in this century, the 'Trattato di Mascalcia ' of FiUppo 
Sacro de Logliacozzo (Venice, 1553) ; and the 'Gloria del Cavallo ' of 
Caracciolo (11567). In France, shortly after Fiaschi's work appeared, 
Claudio Corte published ' L'Ecuyer ' (Lyons, 1573). 


farriers {mareschaux) : and yet among these there are some 
who more frequently think of profit and ease to themsehxs, 
than pay any regard to the wants and conveniences of the 
horses they shoe. So that if the horseman, because of 
his ignorance, is obliged to submit to the opinion of his 
mar^.sc/iaJ, it will very often happen that he will see his 
horses lamed (enclouez) or badly shod, or otherwise incon- 
venienced : things due, as we witness every day, to the 
carelessness, ignorance, or malice of the farriers. Seeing, 
then, that the hoofs are the parts which support the 
whole of the body, and consequently bear all its weight, 
it is all the more necessary that the cavalier should be 
careful in having them well shod, and, besides, well at- 
tended to.' 

Chapter II. contains advice as to the colour of the 
horn, — pour cognoistre la bonte et malice dicelle. ' The 
black horn is the best.' 

Chapter III. treats of the differences between the fore 
and hind feet, and also between the heels and toes of 
the feet. The heels of the fore-feet are the most sensi- 
tive, and need great care because they bear nearly the 
whole weight and strain. So that in shoeing horses, the 
nails must not come near them ; and for the same reasons 
care must be taken not to drive the nails near the toes of 
the hind-feet, which are also the most sensitive parts. To 
do all in our power to protect them, the shoes applied 
must neither be too much curved nor yet too flat, but 
selected with care and good judgment. 

Chapter IV. explains the manner in which the fore 
and hind feet should be armed. 

Chapter V. speaks of the calkins {crampons), frost- 


nails {clous a glace), catches {crestes), points {barbettes), 
and rings {annelets), sometimes added to the fore-shoes. 
' The calkins are useless on the fore-shoes, and they are 
even hurtful to the nerfs (tendons) of the limb, and cause 
the whole body to suffer pain. When we travel {chevanche) 
in mountainous or stony countries, it is far better to use a 
Turkish shoe, which protects the heels like a shield. The 
shoe to which is attached false nails ' {clous bastards), not 
so high (in the head) as frost-nails, does not slip ; the 
calkined shoe is apt to wound the horse when ridden ; the 

calkin a f Aragonaise is less dangerous All other 

accessories, such as frost-nails, crests, barbettes, and anne- 
lets, ought not to be applied until after due deliberation, 
for they are often more hurtful than useful.' 

Chapter VII. is devoted to the way in which the heels 
and the frog {cartilage) should be pared, and the hoof 
otherwise managed. 'The heel, with the cartilage or 
tendroii, named in Italian the "fetton" (frog), particularly 
in the fore-feet, should be moderately pared or opened 
{ouvert), according to the character of the hoofs ; if these 
are not good, care should be taken not to weaken them 

too much by too great opening Besides, the 

cavalier should have removed from the toes of his horse's 
feet as much horn as may be necessary to give them a 
proper shape, which may easily be discovered by putting 
the foot to the ground.' 

Chapter IX. relates to the form which the fore-shoes 
should have. Usually, the fore-shoe should not project 
beyond the toe of the hoof, except this part has been 

' It would appear that nail-heads alone were rivetted into the shoes 
in places to prevent slipping. 


broken and worn ; but it is advantageous that it should 
project a little beyond the foot from the quarters back, 
so as to preserve the horn there ; and behind the foot it 
should not be short, but exact and equal to the extremity 
of the heel, for if it surpass the heel the horse will likely 
forge (click or strike) with the hind feet ; and if too short, 
if the heels are weak and tender, the animal may suffer 
pain and injury. In the next chapter, the same observa- 
tions are made with regard to the hind-feet. In the 
eleventh chapter we have the mode of adjusting the shoe 
to the hoof. 'The shoe should be so fitted that the foot 
may suffer in no way through the carelessness of the 
farrier — that is to say, the hot shoe should only be applied 
to the hoof for as long a period as may be necessary to 
fit it well' 

The nails are described in the following chapter. 
'The nails ought to be large, moderately long, and 
neither flattened, hammered, or otherwise hardened. 
With ordinary horses eight or nine is the usual num- 
ber ; and with coursers or " Prisons," ten, and sometimes 
more. I do not wish to deny that with some hoofs six 
or seven nails are sufficient, but there are few of these. 
When the number is odd, the majority of the nails 
should go to the outside of the foot, which is the least 

Chapter XIII. speaks of the hordure or pancette, 
sometimes added to the shoe, and which was nothing but 
a very wide sole. The other chapters up to the twenty- 
second, are devoted to the characters of various kinds of 
hoofs, and how to arm them. This chapter mentions the 
shoes necessary for young horses which, having been 



reared in marshy lands, have the frogs diseased. 'Employ 
the half-shoe [fer a lunette) ; the heels and neighbouring 
parts will become hard, and the shoulders and arms will 
be brought better into play. Light work, but not on 
bad roads. Only apply these shoes for some months.' 

The remaining chapters 
are devoted to various 
kinds of shoes, suitable 
to different varieties of 
hoofs, or horses whose 
manner of going was de- 
fective ; as well as the 
method of shoeing vi- 
cious horses. The figures 
of shoes he gives are 20 
in number. No. i.Fore-_j 
shoe without calkin (fig. 
160). 2, Shoe with the 
calkin a C Aragoiiaise on 
one side, and the other 
side thickened (fig. 161). 
3. Lunette shoe, or 'tip' 
(fig. 162). 4. Three- 
quarter shoe (fig- 163). 
5 . Bevelled shoe, with the 
Aragonaise calkin on one 
branch, and the other 
thick at the heel (fig. 
164). 6. Shoe with sciettes, or projecting toothed bor- 
der, and thickened towards each heel, to jDrevent slip- 
ping (fig. 165). 7. Thick-sided shoe, thin towards the 



inner border, and seated like the Englisli shoe (fig. i66). 
8. Shoe with buttons, or 
raised catches, on the 
inner branch, and thick- 
ened on the heel of the 
same side (fig. \6y). 9. 
A shoe which has the 
inside heel and quarter 
much thicker and nar- 
rower than usual (fig. 
168). 10. A shoe with 
crests or points towards 
the ground surface on the 
toe and quarter, and /v/r- 
httes at the heels (fig. 
169). 1 1. A shoe with 
the calkins doubled over, 
and provided with rings 
(fig. 170). 12. The foot 
surface of a shoe with the 
heels turning up towards 
the foot (fig. 171). 13. 
Shoe with two calkins 
(fig. 172). 14. A Ira- 
shoe (fig. 173). 15. A jointed shoe, to suit any sized 
foot (fig. 174). 16. A jointed shoe without nails, and 
secured by the lateral border and the heel-screw (fig. 
175). 17. A hind-shoe with calkins (fig. 176). 18. 
A shoe with one of the branches greatly thickened at 
the heel (fig. 177). 19. A hind-shoe with a crest or toe- 
piece (fig. 178). 20. A hind-shoe with the toe elongated 



and curled upwards, probably for a foot the back tendons 
of which were contracted, and caused the horse to walk 
on the point of the toe (iig. 179). 

In Germany, the first veterinary treatises published in 
which shoeing is mentioned are those by Albrecht, ' des 
Kaiser Friederich huffschmid ; ' ' Horwart von Hoherb- 
burg;^ and Seuter.^ There does not appear to be any- 
thing novel on the subject in these works, beyond what 
we have already epitomized from the Italian writers. 

In 1598 appeared the excellent treatise of Carlo Ruini, 
a Senator of Bologna, on the anatomy and diseases of the 
horse ;'^ in which the maladies and defects of the feet were 
specially considered, and in a manner truly wonderful, for 
that time. Indeed, his instructions for the relief or cure 
of many foot maladies by shoeing are repeated in modern 
days. From his descriptions, we learn that the cruel and 
unscientific fashion of o/)e«/;zo-/AeAee/^, as it is termed, and 
paring the soles until the horn was quite thin,- as well as 
shoeing with high calkins, was producing those effects 
with which we are so familiar now-a-days. His treatment 
of contracted heels consisted chiefly in applying lunette, or 
thin-heeled shoes, to allow the posterior parts of the hoofs 
to come in contact with the ground ; and also to employ- 
ing shoes with clips at the inner angles of the heels to grasp 
the inflection of horn, named the ' bars,' so as to press them 
outwards — a mode of expansion still very common on the 

' Das Kleine Rossarzneibiichlein. Benedig, 1542. 
" Von der Hochberiimpten, Adeligen und Ritterlichen Kunst der 
Reyterey. Tegernsee, 1577. 

^ Buech von der Rossarzney, etc. Augsburg, 1588. 

* Deir Anatomia e dell' Infirmita dell Cavallo. Bologna, 1598. 



continent, and for v/hich several 
patents have been secured during 
tiiis century. 

The fashion of arming the 
hoofs with heavy shoes and 
great calkins, appears to have 
prevailed generally for several 
centuries ; a specimen from the 
church door of Saint-Saturnin, 
where it had been attached by 
some farrier anxious to exhibit his skill, may serve to give 
us an idea of what was considered a proper model. It 
bears the date 1573 (fig. 180)/ 

^ Meginn. Op. cit. p. 62. 

fig. 180 





For the remainder of this history, we will confine our 
attention to England and France, alone ; countries which 
have vied with each other in researches into the functions 
of the horse's foot, and the best mode of protecting it by 

During the 17th century, there appears to have been 
an increasing desire to enhance the services of this noble 
animal, and, thanks to the influence of the Italian hip- 
piatrists, the men who now began to study the horse in 
health and disease were capable of greatly adding to the 
small amount of knowledge previously possessed on the 


subject of shoeing ; although it is probable their efforts 
to improve it met with little success. 

In England, the form of the shoes in ordinary use 
would seem to have varied to a notable degree in different 
parts of the country, and on one occasion this variety gave 
rise to a remarkable incident connected with the Civil War 
that broke out about the middle of the century. When 
Charles II. was making his escape from England in the win- 
ter of 1649, and got as far as Lynne, he put up at an inn 
in a village where his attempts at getting away, and his 
being somewhere in the locality, were well known. 'The 
passengers who had lodged in the inn that night, had, as 
soon as they were up, sent for a smith to visit their horses, it 
being a hard frost. The smith, when he had done what 
he was sent for, according to the custom of that people, 
examined the feet of the other two horses (the king's) to 
find more work. When he had observed them, he told 
the host of the house, " that one of those horses had 
travel'd far; and that he was sure that his four shooes had 
been made in four several counties." Which (says Lord 
Clarendon), whether his skill was able to discover or no, 
was very true. The smith going to the sermon (it was 
Sunday), told this story to some of his neighbours ; and 
so it came to the ears of the preacher, when his sermon 
was done.' ' This preacher was a most enthusiastic 
puritan, and having strongly suspected Charles to be in 
the neighbourhood, at once gave the alarm ; the king, 
however, contrived to make a very narrow escape. 

Whether it was in grateful recognition of the acute- 
ness manifested by this son of Saint Eloy, or a necessity 
' Hist, of the Rebellion, vol. iii. p. 330. Oxford, 1702. 


imposed by the important development this art had 
assumed, certain it is, that some years after the king's 
return from exile to England, and the restoration of the 
monarchy, the Company of Farriers was incorporated 
(1763) by the style of ' the Master Wardens, Assistants, 
and Commonalty of the Company of Farriers, London.' 
This local corporation was, and is now, a livery company, 
and governed by a master, three wardens, and twenty-four 
assistants. In 1736, it had, besides these, thirty-nine on 
the livery. 

The arms of the corporation are : ^r. three horse- 
shoes. Sa. pierced of the field. Crest. An arm em- 
bowed, issuing from clouds on the sinister side, all proper, 
holding in the hand a hammer az. handled, and ducally 
crowned or. Supporters, Two horses ^r. Motto, ' Fi 
et Virtute^. 

In Scotland, the artificers had, from an early period, 
formed a corporation at Edinburgh, designated the Ham- 
mermen's Corporation. This was one of the chief guilds 
or public bodies, and included every handicraft ; though 
at first it appears that that of the iron, or black-smith, 
greatly predominated. The earliest entry, which occurs 
in 1582, though the corporation had been embodied for 
some considerable time before this date, gives us to under- 
stand that among the ' essays ' or specimens of skill and 
proficiency required to obtain admission, that of the 
smith was ' ane door cruick (hook) and door-band, ane 
spaide iron (a spade), ane schoile iron (a shovel), and 
horse-shoe and six nails thereto.' 

Many distinguished men were presented with the free- 
dom of this Corporation of Hammermen. An entry for 


March 2 ist, 1657, shows that Mr Charles Smith, advocate, 
was admitted a blacksmith ; and was pleased to produce, 
by way of essay, ' the portrait of an horse's leg, shoed 
with a silver shoe fixed with three nails, with a silver 
staple at the other end thereof; which was found to be 
a qualified and well-wrought essay,' ' 

If I remember aright, the crest of the corporation was 
an uncovered arm grasping a hammer, and the motto, 
' By hammer in hand all arts do stand.' 

A horse-shoe in my possession, dug up from the 
battle-field of Marston Moor (near York), and which 
belonged, without doubt, to some horse engaged in that 
slaughter (July 2, 1644), is of a good outline. Though 
extremely oxidized, we can yet see that it measured a little 
more than 4^ inches in length and breadth — the width 
being about one inch and three-eighths, and the thickness 
about one quarter inch. The foot surface appears to 
have been concave throughout, and without any seating 
for the hoof; while the ground surface is convex to such 
an extent that the inner circumference is much lower than 
the outer. I can only trace three oblong nail-holes on 
each side ; but whether the shoe has been grooved around 
these or not, it is impossible to say. 

The most notable work on veterinary medicine pub- 
lished in England in the i6th century, was that of 
Thomas Blundevil.^ This, though not the first, is yet 

' Transactions of the Socy. of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. i. p. 170. 

^ The Four Chiefest Offices belonging to Horsemanship. The 
Order of Curing Horse Diseases, etc. The True Arte of Pariug and 
Shooying all maner of houes, together with the shapes and fygures of 
dyuers shooes, very necessarye for dyuers horses. By Thomas Blun- 
devil, of Newlon-Flotman, in Norlfolke. London, 1565. 


entitled to be considered the foundation, or real com- 
mencement of veterinary science in Britain. As pre- 
viously explained, this science, like many others, owed its 
resuscitation to Italy. After the fall of the Byzantine 
empire, learning once more sought refuge in that favoured 
land ; and the writings of the Greek and Roman hippia- 
trists, transferred to this genial soil from their Eastern 
nursery and repository, were not long in bringing forth 
good fruit, as evidenced in the writings of Rusius, Ruini, 
Fiaschi, and many others. The veterinary science of 
France, England, and other countries, took its origin 
from this source. And Blundevil acknowledges this in 
the frequent quotations he gives from the Italian writers, 
and the references he makes to their opinions. Indeed, 
the technical expressions he employs are nearly all Italian, 
only some few of them being French. The English lan- 
guage could not furnish them ; and more particularly is 
this observed in the section or treatise devoted to ' paring 
and shooying all maner of houes.' 

He mentions the various breeds of horses he was 
acquainted with, and their good and bad qualities, par- 
ticularly with a view to their being profitably reared in 
England ; these were the horses of ' Turkey and Barbary ; 
Sardinia and Corsica, courser of Naples, jennet of Spayne, 
Hungarian, highe Almayne ; Flanders horse ; Frizeland 
horse, and Iryshe hobbye.' In that portion of his work 
which is more intimately connected with the subject now 
under consideration, he writes : ' The art of shoeing con- 
sisteth in these points, that is to say, in paring the hoof 
well, in making the shoe of good stufi:^ in well fashioning 
the webb thereof, a well piercing the same, in fitting the 


shoe unto the horse's foot, in making nails of good stuff, 
and well fashioning the same, and finally in well driving ^ , - 
of the said nails, and clenching of the same. But as v? 

neither paring nor shoeing is no absolute thing of itself, 
but hath respect unto the foot or hoof (for the shoe is to 
be fitted to the foot, and not the foot to the shoe), and that 
there be diverse kinds of hoofs both good and bad, re- 
quiring great diversity as well of paring as shoeing, it is 
meet, therefore, that we first talk of the diversity of hoofs, 
and then show you how they ought to be pared and 

After describing the hoofs in a very quaint manner, 
and showing us, unwittingly, how much disease and de- 
fective form prevailed, and which arose, no doubt, from bad 
shoeing, paring the hoofs is next commented upon, when 
he talks about the ' butter.' This is the ungainly weapon 
or instrument long wielded with such fatal effect on 
horses' feet in England, and still in use on the continent. 
It appears to have been introduced into this country and 
France from Germany, the authors of the ' Origines de 
la langue PVanc^aise ' deriving it from bozen or botzen, to 
pusli, in Old German. In P'rance, from an early period, it 
has been named boutoir, from whence Blundevil, who is 
the first to import it into our language, terms it ' butter.' 
Up to a recent date it was in use in England, and was 
known as ' butress.' Contemporaneously with its men- 
tion in the writings of the old farriers, do we find serious 
diseases of the feet noticed, and particularly contraction 
of the hoofs at the heels. 

While Blundevil is advising that the heels of the fore 
feet should be gently pared, he recommends that ' the 


toes be pared so thin almost as the edge of a knife' In 
paring, too, he mentions that * the French ferrers hath a 
proverb which saith, " Devant dariar, dariar devant," which 
means spare the fore foot behind, and the hinder foot be- 
fore, as well in paring as in piercing the shoes (i. e. making 
the nail-holes). 

' Make your shoe of spruse or Spanish iron, with a 
broad web, fitting it to the foot, and let the sponges (heels) 
be thicker and more substantial than any other part of the 
shoe ; yea, and also somewhat broad, so as the quarters on 
both sides may disboi'd, that is to say, appear without the 
hoof a straw's breadth to guard the coffin, which is the 
strength of the hoof, and only beareth the shoe. . . . 
And as touching the nails, make them also of the same 
iron, the heads whereof would be square, and not fully so 
broad beneath as above, but answerable to the piercing- 
holes, so as the head of the nails may enter in and fill 
the same, appearing above the shoe no more than the 
breadth of the back of a knife ; so shall they stand sure 
without shogging, and endure longer, and to that end the 
stamp that first maketh the holes, and the " preschell " that 
pierceth them, and also the necks of the nails, would be 
of one square fashion and bigness : that is to say, great 
above and small beneath, which our common smiths do 
little regard, for when they pierce a shoe, they make the 
hole as wide on the inside as on the outside. ... A good 
nail should have no shouldering at all, but be made with 
a plain and square neck, so as it may justly fit and fill the 
piercing-hole of the shoe. . . . The shanks of the nails 
should be somewhat flat, and the points sharp, without 
hollowness or flaw, and stifi'er towards the head above, 


than beneath. And when you drive, drive at the first 
with soft strokes, and with a light hammer, until the nail 
be somewhat entered. . . . The shoe standing straight 
and just, drive in all the nails to the number of eight, four 
on each side, so as the points of the nails may seem to 
stand on the outside of the hoof, even and just one by 
another, as it were in a circular line, and not out of order 
like the teeth of a saw, whereof one is bent one way and 
one another way. That done, cut them off and clinch 
them so as the clinches may be hidden in the hoof, which 
by cutting the hoof with the point of a knife, a little be- 
neath the appearing of the nail, you may easily do. That 
done with a rape (rasp) pare the hoof round, so as the 
edge of the shoe may be seen round about.' 

He always recommends free paring, and for rough and 
brittle hoofs ^ plenty of rasping on the outside to make them 
smooth, and the shoe put on with nine nails — four inside 
and five out.' 

For the contracted or hoof-bound foot, he recom- 
mends paring the sole thin and opening the heels well, 
and putting on a shoe like a half moon. 

Concerning shoes with calkins, he quotes Caesar 
Fiaschi as opposed to their use, and as approving of the 
Turkish mode of shoeing for mountain travelling. ' Not- 
withstanding, some never think their horses to be well 
shod, unless all the shoes be made with calkins, either 
single or double.' 

Of the shoes with rings, shown in Fiaschi's work, he 
says they were first invented to make a horse lift his feet 
high, but that they caused a horse pain on hard roads, 
especially those horses which had not sound feet. Blun- 


devil calls them '^unprofitable devices,' and recom- 
mends that the shoes with sponges (from the French 
eponge, the heel portion of the shoe thickened) only be 
used ; if it is necessary to teach a horse to lift his feet, he 
should be shod heavily while at the school, and afterwards 
with light shoes. 

' In Germany and " highe Almany," the " smythes " 
do make the shoes with a swelling welt round about the 
shoe, which being as high as the heads of the nails, or 
higher, saves the nails from wear.' These shoes Blunde- 
vil praises for lasting, having used them in these coun- 
tries on very stony ground, and he mentions that Fiaschi 
also lauds them ; though he advises that the ivealt be in- 
dented, having sharp pointed teeth like a saw, and that the 
sponges behind be as thick as the welt ; and that the welt 
be of a tough hard temper, for fear of wearing too fast. 
' With these kind of shoes they use in Italy to shoe such 
Barbary horses, jennets, and Turks, as are appointed to 
run for the best game at some public triumph, or any 
other private wager. 

' Some that use to pass the mountains where smiths 
are not readily to be found, to shoe a horse if need be, do 
carry about with them certain shoes made with vyces, 
wherewith they make the shoe fast to the horse's foot 
without help of hammer or nails. Notwithstanding, such 
shoes are more for the show than for any good use or 
commodity. For though it save the horse's foot from 
stones, yet it so pincheth his hoof, as he goeth with pain, 
and perhaps doth his hoof more hurt than the stones 
would do.' 

He advises the jointed shoe to be applied in such 


cases, ' but this shoe must be set on with nails, and there- 
fore it is needful that the rider learn to drive a nail if need 
be, whereof he must have always store about him, to- 
gether with hammer, pynsons, and '■' butter," handsomely 
made, and fit for carrying ; without these the horsemen 
of Almany never travel, neither is there any gentleman 
that loveth his horse but can use these instruments for 
that purpose as well as any smith.' 

He gives various drawings of shoes, chiefly borrowed 
from Fiaschi, and heavy and clumsy. The 'Planche' 
shoe for weak heels is only a more formidable model of 
the modern bar shoe (fig. 181). The drawing he also 
gives of a nail is that of our present 
square-headed nail. 

All the shoes have the square hole 
and 710 fullering. This is not men- 
tioned anywhere ; so that I may be 
in error in assigning it so early a date 
in England. 

Sensible as are many of Blunde- ^^- '^' 

vil's remarks, yet we cannot avoid concluding that he was 
greatly in error in recommending paring and rasping, 
particularly to such a ruinous extent. The terrible in- 
jury inflicted on horses by this unwise and barbarous 
practice, in addition to very faulty shoes, has hung like 
a curse upon these creatures up to the present day. 
Blundevil has in this respect been largely followed. 

Michael Baret,' in his treatise on horsemanship, pub- 
lished 50 years later, speaking of teaching a horse to pace 

' An Hipponomie, or the Vineyard of Horsemanship, pp. 97, 
112. London, 1618. 


or amble, mentions ' tramels, heavy shoes, pasternes of 
lead, and shoes of adv^antage ' being used on the hind 
limbs, ' to keep the hinder parts of the horse down, and 
to cause his hinder feete strike further forward within his 
fore parts.' The 'shoe of advantage' was the most dan- 
gerous ; as the projections or plates at the toe struck the 
tendons of the fore-legs and seriously injured them. For 
the coursers, the day before racing, the hoofs were to be 
shod, ' but let them be such shooes as shall be best agree- 
ing to the race ; which if it bee a soft moore or swarth, 
let them be but thinne plates, or halfe shooes (like a halfe 
moone), but if it bee hard and gravelly, let them be 
whole shooes, but yet so light as is possible.' 

Markham's principal work on farriery and horseman- 
ship ' contains little beyond what Blundevil had stated 
in the previous century ; but in a smaller treatise ^ we 
have some examples given of the condition of horses' 
feet, and the attention they received. For 'foundering, 
frettizing, or any imperfection in the feet or hoofes of an 
horse,' he gives the follovv^ing directions for the treatment 
of the unfortunate creature's extremities : ' First pare thin, 
open the heels, and take good store of blood from the 
toes, then tack on a shooe, somewhat hollow.' The sole 
was then to be filled up with all kinds of fantastic com- 
pounds. In a later edition of this treatise (1647) ^^ 
omits the ' good store of blood : ' ' First pare thinne, 
open the heels wide, and shooe large, strong, and hol- 

The agony the poor horses must have suffered on a 

' Masterpiece. London, 1638. 
" The Faithful Farrier. London, 1639. 


journey, from the outrageous treatment their feet were 
subjected to, as well as from the terrible basin-shaped 
clumsy shoes, is fully evidenced by the numerous re- 
cipes this admirable horseman gives for ' stoppings ' to be 
applied while travelling. We have also directions ' how 
to helpe the surbating or sorenesse in the feete.' These are, 
as might be expected, on a par with the general manage- 
ment of the hapless organs. 'When you find your horse 
to be surbated, presently clap into each of his fore-feet 
two new-layd eggs, and crush them therein, then upon 
the toppe of them lay good store of cow-dung ; thus stop 
him (or, rather, the horse's feet), and in foure houres he 
will recover.' 

It is not until we arrive at the 1 8th century, that any- 
thing worthy of notice occurs relative to this subject, in 
England. It may be mentioned, however, that the 17th 
century produced the first treatise on the Anatomy 
of the Horse, by Snape (London, 1683), farrier to his 
Majesty King Charles II., a very estimable work, and 
one which did good service in drawing attention to the 
value of anatomy, particularly with regard to the horse's 

In France, in the 15th century, the community of 
mare'chaux comprised the marechaux ferrants and the 
marechaux grossiers. The latter were only carriage- 
smiths, and had nothing to do with horses. The maitrises, 
or ' trade freedoms ' were, however, abolished in February, 
1776, and the farriers stood upon their own proper de- 
signation. In the following August, the trade companies 
were again formed, and the marechaux ferrants were 
classed with the eperoruiiers or spur and bit makers ; an 


improvement, as the two occupations were closely allied 
with the conservation and utility of the horse.' 

In the 17th century, many publications on veterinary 
medicine and farriery were published, among which may 
be mentioned those of Francini,^ Dumesni^ Beaugrand,'* 
Espinay,^ Prome,^ Beaumont,'' and Delcampe.^ 

But the most distinguished treatise of the century was 
perhaps that of Solleysel.^ This had an immense suc- 
cess, was translated into every cultivated language in 
Europe, and became the oracle of the veterinary surgeons 
and horsemen of those days. Although this hippiatrist 
is largely indebted to the writings of Csesar Fiaschi ; and 
though anatomy and physiology enter but little into his 
writings, yet there is a good deal of originality in the 
matter of shoeing, evidencing a tendency to place that 
art upon a scientific basis ; but the high estimation in 
which it had been previously held was apparently on the 
wane. Solleysel, while attaching to its practice great im- 
portance, being persuaded that every squire, gentleman, 
or other person having good and fine horses ' ne doit 
ignorer I'ordre et la methode qu'il faut tenir pour les bien 
ferrer, afin que s'il ne peut avoir un bon marechal, il 
puisse ordonner de quelle maniere ils doivent etre ferr^s 

Amlert, E.'quisses Historiq. sur I'Armee Fran9aises, p. 68. 
Saumur, 1837. 

^ Hippiatrique. Paris, 1607. 

3 L'Art de la Marechalerie. Paris, 1628. 

■* Le Marechal Expert. Lyons, 1633. 

^ Le Grand Marechalerie. Paris, 1642. 

' Le Grand Marechal Frangaise. Paris, 1662. 

^ Le Nouveau Parfait Marechal. Paris, 1660. 

I Art de Monter a, Cheval. Paris, 1663. 

' Le Parfait Marechal. Paris, 1664. 


pour le bien etre ; ' yet adds, that, in his time, kings and 
people of quality could shoe horses : ' On a vu, de notre 
temps, des rois sqavoir forger un fer ; et il est peu de 
personnes de qualite qui ne sachent brocher des clous, 
pour s'en servir dans la necessity.' And he now com- 
plains that the little progress that had been made in a 
knowledge of this branch of veterinary science ' has 
maintained it in a state of debasement which even affects 
the other branches ; ' farriery, when he wrote, was ' un 
metier, ou une certaine routine, que ces ouvriers ap- 
prenaient chez des maitres dcipourvus de tous principes de 
leur art.' 

In a brief historical notice like the present, an analysis 
of this treatise will not be expected ; and we can only give 
some abridged notices from the translation made by Sir 
William Hope, and published in London, in 1706.' 

Speaking of a journey, he says : ' Many horses as 
soon as unbridled, instead of eating, lay themselves down 
to rest, because of the great pain they have in their feet, 
so that a man is apt to think them sick ; but if he look 
to their eyes, he will see they are lively and good; and if 
he offer meat to them as they are lying, they will eat it 
very willingly ; yet if he handle their feet he will find 
them extremely hot, which will discover to him that it is 
in that part they suffer. You must therefore observe if 
their shoes do not rest upon their soles.' And again : 
' When you are arrived from a journey, immediately draw 
the two heel-nails of the fore-feet, and if it be a large 
shoe, then four. And two or three days after you may 
blood him in the neck, and feed him for ten or twelve 

' The Conipleat Horseman, or Perfect Farrier. London, 1706. 



days with wet bran only, without giving him any oats, 
keeping him well littered. The reason why you are to 
draw the heel-nails is, because the feet swell, and if they 
were not thus eased, the shoes would press and straiten 
them too much. It is also good to stop them with cow- 
dung, but do not take off the shoes, nor pare the feet, 
because the humours are drawn down by it.' 

There are also frequent allusions to foundering (in- 
flammation of the feet), the changes in the hoofs induced 
by this disease ; as well as to the occurrence of treads, over- 
reaches, coronary abscesses, &c. With regard to the 
practice of shoeing at this time, there are the following 
directions and explanations : ' There are two methods of 
shoeing. The first is, to shoe for the advantage of the foot, 
and, according to its nature and shape, to fit such shoes 
to it as may make it better than it is ; and if it be good, 
may preserve and keep it from becoming bad. The 
second method is, that which disguiseth the foot, and 
maketh it appear good when really it is not ; which 
method, although in time it wholly ruins the foot, yet 
horse-coursers, who have no other design but to sell and 
put off their horses, do not much trouble themselves 
about it ; for provided their horses' feet but appear good, 
and they get them sold, it is all they desire. I shall treat 
of the first only, wherein are four rules to be observed in 
shoeing all sorts of feet whatsoever. The first is, Toe 
before, and quarter behind, or as we commonly say, before 
behind, behind before. By toe before is meant, that you 
may give the nails a good hold upon the toes of the fore- 
feet, because there the horn is very thick, which it is not 
in the quarters of the fore-feet, for there the horn is thin, 


and you would hazard the pricking your horse. Quarter 
behind is that a horse hath the quarters of his hind feet 
strong, that is to say, the horn thick, and so capable of 
suffering a good gripe by the nails ; but at the toes of 
the hind feet you will immediately meet with the quick, 
because the horn is but thin in that part ; and therefore 
smiths should put no nails at all just in the toes of the 
hind feet, but only in their quarters. 

'The second rule is, Never to open a horse's heels. 
People call it opening of the heels, when the smith in 
paring the foot, cutteth the heel low and close almost to 
the frush (frog), and taketh it down within a finger's 
breadth of the coronet, or top of the hoof, so that he 
separates the quarters at the heel, and by that means 
weakens and takes away the substance of the foot, making 
it to close and become narrow at the heels. Now this, 
which they call opening, would be more properly called 
closing of the heels ; for the roundness and circumference 
of the foot being cut, by doing that which they call 
opening of the heels, which is to cut them wholly away, 
they are no longer supported by anything ; so that if 
there be any weakness in the foot, it will of necessity 
make it shrink and straiten in the quarters, which will 
quite spoil the foot. 

' The third rule is to make use of as thin and small nails 
as possible ; because the nails that are thick and gross 
make a large hole, not only when they are driving, but 
also when they are riveting ; for, being stiff, they split the 
horn and take it away with them. Neither can a tender 
foot be shod with such big nails without hazard of prick- 
ing, especially if there be but little horn to take hold of. 



But smiths, to prevent this, pierce their shoes too near the 
edge, which will in time ruin the foot. 

'The fourth rule is to make the lightest shoes you can, 
according to the size of your horse, because heavy- 
shoes spoil the back-sinews and weary the horse ; and if 
he happens to overreach, the shoes being heavy are more 
easily pulled off.' ' Those who think it frugality to shoe 
with thick and heavy shoes, and seldom, are deceived, for 
they lose more by it than they gain, for thereby they not 
only spoil the back-sinews but lose more shoes than if they 
had been light.' 

Excessive paring with the ' butteris ' seems to have 
been in vogue then as at a later day, for in recommending 
a certain method of shoeing he remarks : ' Do not pare 
your horses' feet almost to the quick, as some people do, 
who think thereby to prevent the so frequent shoeing of 
their horses. But if you know that your horses' hoofs 
are smooth and tough, you may with the more confidence 
pare his soles reasonably near.' 

This old hippiatrist, in fact, gives a few excellent direc- 
tions for the management of the horse's feet, and evidently 
far beyond the usual practice of his age; though mixed with 
many which are bad. He condemns heavy and high cal- 
kins, and admits that horses are much better without them 
altogether. Though the rasp was in use, he does not ad- 
vise its being put to the outer surface of the wall, and only 
speaks of paring the frog when the heels are flat or low, and 
that part of the foot is likely to come in contact with the 
ground. For the cure of these f^at feet, too, he recom- 
mends the barbarous operation of barri?ig (ligaturing) the 
pastern veins, ' so that you may put a stop to the super- 


fluous humour which falleth down upon the lower part of 
the foot, and causeth the sole to grow round and high ; 
and also the coffin-bone, or little foot, which is the bone 
in the middle of the coffin, to push itself down, which, 
through time, maketh the foot become round at the sole.' 

Flanders at that period appears to have furnished large 
numbers of horses, whose special characteristics were hairy 
legs, and wide flat-soled feet ; for this author, when de- 
scribing the best way to remedy this defective form of 
hoof by a shoe resting on the sole, instead of the customary 
vaulted armature, adds : ' The surest way is to rectify such 
bad feet in the beginning, and especially in the time when 
horses alter or change their horn, which is the first six 
months after they come from Flanders.' 

His advice to keep the sole strong by refraining from 
paring it, to make the shoe fit the foot instead of the foot 
the shoe, and to take a short thick hold of the wall with 
the nails, is excellent. His remarks on pathological shoe- 
ing, too, show much judgment and experience of this 
important subject. The nails were to be thin and supple ; 
large nails were destructive to the hoofs. For contracted 
hoofs, he recommends the employment of Jers ci pan- 
toiffles, which he says were invented by M. de la Brone, 
squire to Henry III. These were merely shoes with 
the inner border of each heel turned^downwards at a more 
or less acute angle, so as to cause the heels of the hoof to 
glide forcibly outwards when the horse's weight was im- 
posed on them. Lunette shoes were also employed by 
him for horses of the manege who had their hoofs con- 

To the people who argued that horses were better 


without shoes, Solleysel mentions that those of the Ger- 
man peasantry are not shod ; though he asserts it would 
be much to their adv antage if they were, as the and 
feet were in nearly every case he saw more or less de- 

M. Bernard recently confirms this observation, by 
stating that in Lorraine, Alsace, and Bavaria, he saw very 
many agricultural horses unshod, and that deformities of 
the hoofs were common.' 

' Journal de Med. Vet. Mililaire, vol. iv. p. iii. 

47 J 





In the i8th century, when veterinary schools were 
established in France, treatises on shoeing were abund- 
antly multiplied. With ' L'Ecole de Cavalerie ' of La 
Gueriniere (1733), 'La Parfaite Connaissance des Che- 
vaux' of Saunier (1734), ' Le Nouveau Parfait Marechal' 
of Garsault (1755), and others, appears the ' Nouvelle 
Pratique de Ferrer les Chevaux de Selle et de Carosse' 
(Paris, 1756) of Lafosse ' (Marechal des Petites Ecuries 

' This excellent essay was translated into English by Braken (who 


dii Roi). This veterinarian, a man of great observation, 
and an enlightened practitioner, may be said to have been 
the most advanced of that school which, for two cen- 
turies, had been endeavouring to improve the vicious 
courses adopted by the farriers in their treatment of 
horses' feet. The principal of these practices were in- 
judicious removal of the horn, and the great weight and 
length of the shoes. We have seen that the Italian writer, 
Fiaschi, had already protested against the use of calkins, 
which were becoming of greater size as time advanced. An 
example of this, from the church-door of Saint-Saturnin, 
has been already given. During the reign of Louis 
XIV., this absurd fashion appears to have been at its 
height. No thought seems to have been bestowed on the 
injurious influence such shoeing might have on the form 
or quality of the hoofs, on the true or false disposition of the 
limbs, nor yet on the horse's natural movements. Chargers 
and ordinary riding-horses wore strangely-shaped masses 
of iron, which, for weight and clumsiness, could scarcely, 
one would think, be carried by a strong waggon-horse 
of our own times. This unreasonable and most pernicious 
custom, which makes us wonder how it was possible that 
anything like quick progression could be accomplished 
without serious damage to the limbs of horses and riders, 
is shown in the paintings of Lebrun, court-painter to the 
Grand Monarque, which may be seen in the galleries of 
the Louvre, and in which Alexander and other heroes of 
antiquity are represented on horses whose feet are cum- 

had performed a like service for Latbsse's earlier work, ' Traile des Ob- 
servations et des Decouvertes sur les Chevaux'). It has been repub- 
lished in the Bibliotheque Ve^erinairej Paris^ i849- 



bered with tremendous ' crampons.' In the Gobelins' 
tapestry, manufactured under that artist's direction, these 
massive projections are also depicted. A shoe of this 
description, copied from one worn by a saddle-horse, on a 
piece of Gobelins at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, and 
made in 1684, will perhaps give some idea of their pro- 
portions (fig. 182). 

In the reign of Louis XV., 
however, the large calkins were 
generally abolished by the far- 
riers, though the shoes were yet 
as long, if not longer, than be- 
fore, and towards the heels were 
made heavy and thick. 

Against this absurd fashion 
Lafosse uses every argument. 
Informing us that in Prussia, the fore-feet only were 
shod ; in Germany, the fore and hind — each shoe hav- 
ing three calkins ; in France, only calkins on the hind-feet ; 
while in England the shoes were wide, thin, and with 
thickened heels, so that the frogs could not reach the 
ground, though without calkins before or behind ; he 
says that all strangers visiting France carried in their train 
a farrier to shoe their horses in their own fashion, think- 
ing it preferable, and that French noblemen did the same. 
Not that the mode of shoeing of any country was pre- 
ferable to another — for native and foreign horses were 
alike badly shod — but because it was less an affair of 
reasoning than fancy and habit. 

' The practice of shoeing horses appears to me to be 
good, useful, and even necessary on paved roads ; but it is 

fig. 182 


on the form and manner of applying shoes that not 
only depends the preservation of the feet, but also the 
safety of the limbs and the harmony of movement. We 
always find ourselves more active and nimble when we 
wear easy shoes ; but a wide, long, and thick shoe will do 
for horses what clogs do for us — render them heavy, 
clumsy, and unsteady.' 

After giving a brief notice of the anatomy of the foot, 
the necessity for the farrier to understand this, and also 
the fact that the horse, in a natural condition, ought to 
have the whole extent of its foot placed upon the super- 
iices of the ground it covers, he refers to the defects of the 
shoeing then in vogue, and as aptly as if he had lived in our 
own day : ' As it is not possible to employ unshod horses 
on paved roads or hard ground without running the risk 
of destroying some of the parts just mentioned, we have 
been compelled to shoe them ; but the actual method is 
so injurious that, so far from preserving their feet, it con- 
curs to their destruction in occasioning a number of 
accidents, as I will demonstrate. 

* I . Long shoes, thick at the heels, never remain firmly 
attached to the feet in consequence of their weight, and 
break the clinches of the nails. 

'2. They require proportionately large nails to retain 
them, and these split the horn, or frequently their thick 
stalks press against the sensitive laminag and sole, and cause 
the horse to go lame. 

' 3. Horses are liable to pull off these long shoes when 
the hind-foot treads upon the heel of the fore-shoe, either 
in walking, while standing by putting the one foot upon 
the other, between two paving-stones in the pavement, be- 


tween the bars of gates, in the draw-bridges of fortifica- 
tions, or in heavy ground. 

' 4. They move heavily, as the weight of their shoes 
fatigues them. 

'5. Long shoes with massive heels raise the frogs from 
the ground, and prevent the horse walking on those parts. 
Then, if the horse has a humour in the frog, it becomes a 
ficthrush, or crapaud (canker), because the humour lodges 
there. In shoeing with short shoes, the horse goes on 
his frog, the humour is dissipated more easily, particularly 
in the fore-feet, as the animal places more weight upon 
them than the hind ones. 

'6. Long shoes, thick at the heels, when put upon 
feet which have low heels, bruise and bend them inwards, 
and lame the horse, although the heel be sprung, and 
when the foot is raised we can see daylight between the 
shoe and the hoof; when it is on the ground, the heel 
descends to the shoes, because the hoof is flexible. 

* 7. Shoes long and strong at the heels, when the foot 
is pared, the frog being removed a long distance from the 
ground, cause many accidents — such as the rupture or 
straining of the flexor tendon, and compression of the 
vascular sole, a circumstance not known until I pointed it 

' 8. Long shoes cause horses to slip and fall, because 
they act like a patten on the slippery pavement, as well in 
summer as in winter. 

' 9. Long shoes are also injurious when horses lie like 
a cow, in consequence of the heels wounding the elbows. 

'10. Calkins should not be used on paved roads; 
they are only useful on ice or slippery ground [terre grasse). 


' 1 1 . The calkins on the inside heels are liable to 
wound the coronets when the horse happens to cross his 

' 12. A horse shod with them is soon fatigued and 
never goes easy. 

'13. The horse which has only a calkin on the out- 
side does not stand fair, and the calkin confines the move- 
ment of the coronary articulation, the foot being twisted 
to one side. 

'14. If a horse has his feet pared and loses a shoe, he 
cannot travel without breaking and bruising the wall, and 
damaging the horny sole, because the horn is too thin to 
protect it. 

' 15. If the shoes are long, and the heels of the hoof 
pared out hollow, stones and pebbles lodge between the 
shoe and the sole, and make the horse lame. 

' 16. Flat feet become convex by hollowing the shoes 
to relieve the heels and the frog, because the more the 
shoes are arched from the sole, the more the wall of the 
hoofs is squeezed and rolled inwards, particularly towards 
the inner quarter, which is the weakest ; the sole of the 
foot becomes convex, and the horse is nearly always unfit 
for service. 

'^ 17. If the wall of the hoof is thin and the shoes are 
arched, the quarters are so pressed upon that the horse is 

' 18. Pared hoofs are exposed to considerable injury 
from wounds by nails, stones, glass, etc. 

'19. The pared sole readily picks up earth or sand, 
which forms a kind of cement between it and the shoe, 
and produces lameness. 


' 20. The reason why it is dangerous to pare the feet 
of horses, is because when the sole is pared, and the horse 
stands in a dry place, the horn becomes desiccated by the 
air which enters it, and removes its moisture and its sup- 
pleness, and often causes the animal to be lame. 

* 2,1. A habit to be abolished is that in which the farrier, 
to save trouble, burns the sole with a hot iron, so as to 
pare it more easily. The result often is to heat the sen- 
sitive sole and cripple the horse. 

'22. It often happens that, to make the foot pleasant 
to look at, the horn of the sole is removed to the quick, 
and the flesh springs out from it ; this granulation is called 
a cherry, and sometimes it makes the horse unserviceable 
for a considerable period. 

'23. It is the pared foot which is most affected with 
what is termed contracted or weak inside quarter, and 
which also lames the horse. 

' 24. It also happens that one or both quarters con- 
tract, and sometimes even the whole hoof; then, in con- 
sequence of its smallness, all the internal parts are confined 
in their movements ; this lames the horse, and is due to 

'25. There also occurs another accident: when the 
quarter becomes contracted, the hoof splits in its lateral 
aspect; this accident is termed a sandcrack (seime), and 
the horse is lame. 

* 26. The fashion of paring the hoofs, and especially 
the heels, within which are the bars, causes contraction, 
and this renders the horse lame. 

* 27. It is an abuse to rasp the hoofs of horses ; this 
alters the hoof and forms sandcracks. 


' 28. If a horse which has pared hoofs happens to lose 
his shoes and walks without them, the horn is quickly 
used and the feet damaged. 

' 29. Another defect is in the manner of making large 
nail-holes in the shoes, etc. 

'30. The majority of farriers, in order to pare the 
sole well, cut it until it bleeds, and to stop the haemorrhage, 
they burn the place with a hot iron, and the horse returns 
lame to his stable.' 

We see, then, that the curse of paring and heavy 
shoes was causing great evils in the days of Lafosse, as 
much as in our own. After enumerating all the vices 
and defects of shoeing, as it was then practised, he pro- 
ceeds to lay the foundation for a rational method ; and 
his remarks to this end are particularly happy. In a state 
of nature, he observes, all the inferior parts of the foot 
concur to sustain the weight of the body ; then we ob- 
serve that the heels and the frogs — the parts said to be 
most exposed, are never damaged by wear; that the wall 
or crust is alone worn in going on hard ground, and that 
it is only this part which must be protected, leaving the 
other parts free and unfettered in their natural movements. 
These are the true and simple principles of good farriery 
he lays down, and they are as appropriate and explicit to- 
day as they were then. ' To prevent horses slipping on 
the dry glistening pavement {pave sec et plombS), it is 
necessary to shoe them with a crescent-shaped shoe— that 
is, a shoe which only occupies the circumference of the 
toe, and whose heels gradually thin away to the middle of 
the quarters ; so that the frog and heels of the hoof bear 
on the ground, and the weight be sustained behind and 



before, but particularly in the latter, because the weight 
of the body falls heaviest there. The shorter the shoe is 
the less the horse slips, and the frog has the same in- 
fluence in preventing this that an old hat placed under 
our own shoes would have in protecting us from slipping 
on ice. 

'It is necessary, nevertheless, that hoofs which have weak 
walls should be a little longer shod, so that the gradually 
thinning branches reach to the heels, though not resting 
upon them. For horses which have thin convex soles 
{pieds combles)^ these long shoes should be also used, and 
the toes should be more covered to prevent the sole touch- 
ing the ground ; at the same time, the shoe must be so 
fitted that it does not press upon the sole, and the heels 
and frog rest upon the ground ; this is the only true 
method of preserving the foot and restoring it.' ' A horse 
which has its heels weak and sensitive ought to be shod 
as short as possible, and with thin branches {Sponges), so 
that the frog comes in contact with the ground ; because 
the heels, having nothing beneath them, are benefitted 
and relieved (fig. 183). 

* Crescent shoes are all the 
more needful for a horse which 
has weak incurvated quarters, 
as they not only relieve them, 
but also restore them to their 
natural condition. Horses 
which have contusions at the 
heels {bleimes, corns) should 
also be shod in this manner, 
and for cracks {seifnes, sand- fig. 183 


cracks) at the quarter it is also advantageous. The sole or 
frog should never he pared ; the wall alone should be cut 
down, if it is too long. When a horse cuts himself with the 
opposite foot the inner branch of the shoe ought to be shorter 
and thinner than the outer. In order that the shoe wear a 
long time, I have used a nail of my invention, the head of 
which is in the form of a cone, and the aperture in the shoe 
of the same shape, and exactly filled by the nail. However 
much the shoe may be worn it is always retained in its 
place. This kind of nail (fig. 183) possesses three other 
advantages : one, that it is less liable to be broken at the 
neck because it exactly fits the stamped hole ; the other, 
that it is smaller, and, in consequence, not likely to press 
on the sensitive part of the foot ; and, lastly, that it does 
less damage to the horn. 

' By this new mode of shoeing all the defects and 
accidents attendant upon the old method are evaded.' 

Elsewhere he speaks of another kind of shoeing, 
which is not without interest. The chapter referring to 
this is headed : ' Half-circle shoes for the safety of the rider, 
for use on dry and slippery roads, either in summer or 
winter, in ascending mountains, or in descending them at 
a gallop, without slipping in any way.' This method of 
shoeing was contrived as follows : ' The semi-circle (fig. 
184, next page) ought to be from two to three lines in 
width and one and a half in thickness, so as to admit 
of the holes being made in them with a punch ; these 
holes should be counter-pierced on the same side on 
which they are stamped, so that the nail-head be com- 
pletely buried in their cavities. Ten holes at least are re- 
quired, but they should be small in proportion, as they are 



only needed to sustain the wall; the shoe should also be 
flexible. As is customary, 
the excess of crust should 
be removed, observing, 
however, to leave a little 
more than usual in order to 
imbed the semi-circle in it ; 
then to apply this, a groove 
is made in the middle of the 
wall of the foot to the depth of the shoe, so that it may 
lie therein, and the outer edge of the crust project beyond 
it all round, to facilitate its being worn on the road. The 
two ends of the shoe ought to be incrusted in the heels, 
as this is productive of two mutual advantages : one, that 
the wall should preserve the thin shoe from too rapid 
wear, and the other, that the shoe prevents the hoof from 
breaking, or too much attrition (fig. 185). This mode 
of shoeing is advantageous for 
saddle-horses ; it would be also 
good for draught-horses, did the 
shoes stand wear long enough, 
I have seen many horses go with 
these shoes for three weeks; of 
course, the less work they did 
the longer the shoes would last. 
I may mention, however, that 
there is a more convenient mode fig- 1S5 

of shoeing draught-horses ; this is with a shoe that is 
bedded {enclave) in the whole thickness of the wall, ob- 
serving to leave it projecting in its entire contour. This 
shoe may be termed /e croissant enclave (the imbedded 



crescent) ; it should be stamped very fine {maigre). It 
must be remarked that these two kinds of shoes are only- 
fit for horses with strong hoofs.' 

His recommendations for shoeing good hoofs to 
travel on all kinds of ground are as follows : ' The shoes 
must not be too long or project beyond the heels, but 
only reach the bars ; neither must the hoofs, behind or 
before, be pared. The wall or crust alone should be 
diminished in proportion as it may be too long ; this 
should be done evenly, and neither the sole nor frog must 
be cut; the latter should be allowed to project, if possible, 
above the shoe, so that it may come into contact with the 
ground. The shoe ought to be about the same strength 
throughout, or a little thicker and wider in the outer 
branch of the fore foot, and thin at the heels of the hind 
one. Be careful to stamp the nail-holes on the same line, 
not in a zigzag manner; the holes should not be too 
coarse, as there is then danger of pricking the horse, or 
binding the hoof with the stalk of the nail. The shoe 
should be stamped coarser outside than inside, because it 
may be necessary to leave it wider outside. Do not bend 
the shoes in adjusting them, nor arch them ; they ought 
to be nearly fiat ; though they might be slightly curved, 
so as to preserve the wall of the hoof. They should also 
follow the outline of the hoof, a little more to the outside 
than the inside. When fitting, the shoe should not be kept 
too long a time on the hoof, for fear of heating it. With 
this shoeing we may travel on slippery ground or grass 
land, in using for each shoe two nails with long heads, 
which will prevent the horse from slipping. Also during 
frost, on paved roads, or ice or snow, use these nails, as 


they prevent slipping; the roads being hard, three nails 
are required — two in the outer branch, and one in the inner.' 

Reverting to the defective shoeing of his time, he 
endeavours to demonstrate, that by removing the horn of 
the frog and points of the heels from the ground, the 
animal's footing on paved roads is much less secure. 
' The draught-horse first places his weight on the toe, 
then on the two sides of the hoof, and afterwards the 
heels are lowered to meet the heel of the shoe. The 
saddle-horse rests more lightly on the toe. The cannon (or 
shank bone) presses on the pastern-bone, this on the coro- 
nary, and this again on the coffin and navicular bones. 
From this disposition, we should note two important points 
which throw light on the defects of the present method, 
and indicate how to remedy them ; one is, that the strain of 
the weight is neither fixed on the toe nor heel, but between 
the two ; the other, that the more the frog is removed from 
the ground or from any point of support, the more the 
pressure of the coronary on the navicular bone fatigues the 
tendon on which it rests, in consequence of the excessive 
extension it experiences at each step the horse takes. 
The frog ought therefore to rest on the ground, as much 
for the facility as for the surety of the horse's movements ; 
as the larger the frog is, so the less do the heels meet the 
ground ; and the more the heels are relieved, the greater 
ease does the horse experience in progression. The only 
way to insure this is to shoe him according to the method 
I have indicated, as this causes him to walk on his frog, 
which is the natural prop or basis {point dappui) for the 
flexor tendon.' 

The whole aim of Lafosse's teaching appears to have 


been wisely devoted to the importance of allowing the 
posterior parts of the foot to rest on the ground without 
the intervention of the shoe. ' It is useful and even 
necessary to put short shoes on all flat feet, particularly 
on those which have the form of an oyster-shell. Every 
flat foot has low heels ; but nature, to remedy this defect, 
bestows a large frog to preserve these parts. We ought 
not, then, to pare the soles, much less cut them out to- 
wards the heels ; neither should the hoofs be too much 
rasped ; all these practices are so many abuses which bring 
about the destruction of the horses' feet. The first abuse 
— hollowing out the heels, is to destroy the horn which 
forms the bars and prevents the heels and quarters from 
contracting; the second abuse — rasping the foot, is to 
destroy the strength of the hoof, and consequently to 
cause its horn to become dry and the horny laminae be- 
neath to grow weak ; from this often arises an internal 
inflammation, which renders the foot painful and makes 
the horse go lame.' 

It ought to be always remembered, that the more a 
horse's foot is pared, so the more do we expose it to 
accidents ; it is depriving it, in the first place, of a defence 
that nature has given it against the hard and pointed sub- 
stances it encounters ; and, in the second place, and which 
is of the utmost advantage for both horse and rider, in 
not paring the sole, and only using as much of a shoe as 
is necessary to protect the horn, the animal will be no 
longer liable to slip on bad roads in winter or summer, 
when they are vulgarly called plombe, as will be shown. 

' I. Causing a horse to walk on the frog and partly 
on the heel, the former is found to be rasped by the 


friction it experiences on the earth and paved road, and 
is pressed by the weight of the body into the little cavities 
and interstices it meets. 

*2. By its flexibility, it takes the imprint and the 
contour, so to speak, of the ground it comes into contact 
with ; so that the foot rests on a greater number of parts, 
which, mutually assisting each other, multiply the points 
of support, and thereby give the animal more adherence 
to the surface on which he moves. We may even say 
that he acquires a kind of feeling in this part, through its 
correspondence with the fleshy sole, and from this to the 
tendon — a feeling that I will not compare with that we 
experience when we walk with naked feet, but which is 
yet sufficient to warn him of the counterpoise he ought to 
give to his body to maintain its equilibrium, and so pre- 
serve him from falling, twisting, or stumbling. 

' The object of shoeing, by him who first resorted to 
it, would only be as a preservative and a defence, as much 
for the wall as for the sole. But he would not add the 
condition of paring either the one or the other, I do not 
say to our excess, but in any way whatever, because this 
would be contrary to his principle, and would destroy his 

' This precaution (paring) can only be recommended 
in cases where the horn is rugged, and the shoe does not 
rest on it everywhere equally, thus opposing its solidity. In 
such a case it is right, but otherwise it is a contradiction 
and an absurdity. I have often questioned those amateur 
horsemen who were particularly careful to have their horses' 
feet pared, but none of them could demonstrate either its 
necessity or propriety. . . . The horny sole receives its 


nourishment from the vascular sole ; its softness and 
pliancy are due to its thickness, and its nourishment is 
diminished, while it becomes harder, in direct proportion 
to the thinness we give it ; we even see horses whose 
soles are pared, habitually lame. The air, when the sole 
is in this state of thinness, penetrates and dries it to such 
a degree, that if care is not taken to keep it damp when 
the animal is in a dry place, it contracts and presses on 
the vascular sole ; so that, if some time after we wish to 
pare the sole again, it is not possible to do so, because it 
is so hard and dry that the boutoir will not touch it, and 
the horse goes lame. . . . What risk does a horse not 
incur who has nearly been deprived of his soles through 
this paring ! If he encounters stones, broken glass, or 
nails, these easily penetrate to the sensitive sole, and cripple 
him for a long time, if not for ever. 

' When a horse loses a shoe — a circumstaace fre- 
quently occurring, and if the hoof is pared, the animal can- 
not walk a hundred steps without going lame; because in 
this state the lower surface of the foot being hollowed, 
the horse's weight falls on the crust, and this having no 
support from the horny sole, is quickly broken and worn 
away ; and if he meets hard substances on the road, he all 
the more speedily becomes lame. It is not so when the 
sole is allowed to retain its whole strength. The shoe 
comes off, but the sole and frog rest on the ground, assist 
the crust in bearing the greater part of the weight of the 
body, and the animal, though unshod, is able to pursue 
his journey safe and sound. 

' It is a fact that every horse, except those which have 
the feet diseased and soles convex, and to which shoes are 


necessary to preserve the soles, may travel without shoes ; 
and without going for an example to the Arabs, Tartars, 
etc., we will find it among our own horses, which, in the 
country, work every day without requiring shoes ; but as 
soon as our wisdom and skill is brought to bear in hollow- 
ing out the foot to the quick and making a fine, equal, 
and symmetrical frog — doing it well and properly, as 
we say in France, shoes become indispensably neces- 

' I therefore ask all amateur horsemen to insure their 
horses as much as they can against this pretended perfec- 
tion. It may be asked, what will become of the horny 
sole if it is never pared, and it may be feared that by its 
growth the foot will become overgrown. Not at all ; for 
in proportion to its growth it dries, becomes flaky, and 
falls off in layers. 

' The compressions so dangerous, which cause inflam- 
mation, would no more be dreaded if we left the horn of 
the sole, the bars, and the frog entire. By their pliability, 
thickness, flexibility, texture, and the situation they oc- 
cupy, they appear to be solely destined by nature to serve 
as a defence to the vascular sole, as the frog particularly 
acts as a cushion to the tendo achillis — all being disposed 
to obviate shock on paved roads, or injury from a stone, 
splinter, etc. 

' It is necessary to be convinced of another fact : this 
is, that it is rare that a horse goes at his ease, and is not 
promptly fatigued, if the frog does not touch the ground. 
As it is the only point of support, if you raise it from the 
ground by paring it, there arises an inordinate extension 
of the tendon, caused by the pushing of the coronary 


against the navicular bone, as has been mentioned above, 
and which, being repeated at every step the animal takes, 
fatigues it, and induces inflammation. From thence often 
arises the distention of the sheaths of tendons {molettes — 
vulgo, " windgalls "), engorgements and swelling of the 
tendons, etc., that are observed after long or rapid journeys. 
These accidents arise less from the length of the journey, 
as has been currently believed, than from the false practice 
of paring the sole. 

' I am astonished that this method of shoeing has not 
been employed long ago, and I have much trouble in 
persuading myself that I am the inventor. I am more 
inclined to believe that it is only a copy of that which 
has been practised by the first artist who thought about 
shoeing horses. 

' If my suspicions are correct, the oblivion into which 
it has fallen proves nothing against its perfection, because 
the good as well as the bad are alike liable to be forgotten. 
The multitude, more credulous than enlightened, are 
easily persuaded ; hence the long thick shoes, those with 
calkins, then with thick heels, and afterwards the thin. 
There is every reason to believe that if the poor animals 
for whom all this has been done could be allowed to speak 
as they must think, nothing of the kind would have taken 
place, and they would have preferred their ancient arma- 
ture, which, having only been designed to preserve the 
crust, had certainly none of the inconveniences of that 
employed now-a-days.' 

Lafosse's experience of this admirable mode of pro- 
tecting, while preserving, the foot, was derived from a trial 
of its advantages on more than 1800 horses; and his 


success was most astonishing, though no more than might, 
on reflection, be anticipated. 

* These short shoes, thin at the heels, have caused the 
horses to walk on their frogs, which are their points of 
support, and those which were lame at the heels are sound 
again ; those also whose inside quarters were contracted, 
bent over, and split (sandcrack), have been cured. It has 
been the same with horses whose quarters and heels have 
been contracted {encastele) : these have been widened, and 
have assumed a proper shape. The same may be said of 
those whose soles were convex {co?nbie), and which went 
lame with long shoes. My method has also preserved 
those horses which had a tendency to thrush {vu/go, " fie ") 
and canker of the frog {crapaud). 

' If the horse be shod with calkins, there is a great space 
between the frog and the ground ; the weight of the body 
comes on the calkins ; the frog, which is in the air, cedes 
to the weight ; the tendon is elongated ; and if the horse 
makes a violent and sudden movement, the rupture of that 
organ is almost inevitable, because the frog cannot reach 
the ground to support it in the very place it ought to ; 
and if the tendon does not break, the horse is lame for a 
long time from the great extension of the fibres, some of 

which may have been ruptured If the horse be 

shod without heels to his shoes (epouge.s), the frog, which 
carries all the weight of the horse's body, yields at each 
step, and returns again to its original form. The tendon 
is never in a state of distraction ; its fibres are no longer 
susceptible of violent distension during a sudden move- 
ment. I will go so far as to assert, that rupture of the 
tendon will never occur on a flat pavement ; if it does, it 


will be in the space between two paving-stones. Two 
things clearly follow from what I have said — that it may 
happen that the tendon achillis sustains all the different 
degrees of violence that can be imagined, from total rup- 
ture to the smallest abrasion of its fibres, which will cause 
the horse to go lame ; and it is on the frog alone that all 
these different degrees depend, as has been demonstrated 
more particularly in the history of fracture of the navicu- 
lar bone and the anatomy of the foot.' 

After enumerating all the objections urged against his 
rational method of shoeing, and replying to them, he 
concludes : ' My new shoeing, I repeat, has nothing to 
oppose it but prejudice ; anatomy, which has made 
known to me the structure of the foot, has demonstrated 
all its advantages, and experience has fully confirmed 

I regret extremely that our limits forbid my trans- 
lating at greater length from this splendid monograph ; 
but I hope that I have been able to some extent to show 
that Lafosse's ideas on shoeing were founded on sound 
anatomical and physiological principles, the result of 
close observation and experience. And yet they appear 
to have made but little progress in the face of the oppo- 
sition offered by ignorant grooms and farriers, who were 
incompetent to understand anything but the mere every- 
day routine of the rapidly degenerating art ; and the pre- 
judice of those amateur horsemen who, though the last 
perhaps to take upon trust statements relative to other 
matters, would yet believe everything told them by these 
horse attendants and shoers. The farriers of Paris, indeed, 
unanimously protested against the innovation two years 


after Lafosse had published his treatise, and their protest 
appears to have carried the mind of the crowd/ 

Bourgelat/ the illustrious founder of those French veteri- 
nary schools, which have done that country such honour 
and rendered her agriculture such great service, introduced 
another system of farriery, which has prevailed more or 
less in France until the present time. ' Shoeing,' says this 
professor, ' is a methodical action of the hand on the feet 
of animals, on which it is practicable and necessary. By 
it the foot of the horse, principally, ought to be main- 
tained in the condition in which it is found if its con- 
formation is good and regular, and its defects should be 
repaired by shoeing if it is found vicious and deformed. 
By shoeing, also, it is often possible to remedy the inevit- 
able consequences of disproportions between various parts 

of the body, or at least to modify their effects to 

obviate those which result from defectiveness in the direc- 
tion of the limbs to facilitate, to a certain degree, 

freedom and regularity in the execution of movements 

and to prevent those false positions of the limbs 

to which certain habits appear to dispose them.' The 
nails were to be regularly disposed between the toe and 
the heel, and the shoe bent up or adjusted in such a way 

' Reponse a la Nouvelle Pratique de Ferrer du Sieur Lafosse. Par 
les Maitres Marechaux de Paris. Paris, 1758. 

' Essai Theorique et Pratique sur la Ferrure. Paris, 1771, 1804. 
There were also published in France about this period : — 

Romlen. Observations sur des Articles Concernant la Marecha- 
lerie. Paris, 1759. 

Herissant. Medecine des Chevaux. Paris, 1763. 

IFei/rother. Le Parfait Ecuyer Militaire de Campagne. Paris, 1768. 

Druts. L'Anti-Marcchal. Liege, 1773. 

Chahert. Ferrure des Chevaux. Paris, 1782. 



that, seen in profile, it looked like a cradle, and would 
appear to afford anything but a solid or easy footing. 
The total length of the ordinary fore-shoe was to be four 
times the length of the toe between the two first holes and 
the posterior or inner border. ' The distance of the ex- 
ternal border from the one and other branch, this measure 
being taken between the two last or heel-nails, should be 
three and a half times this length, one-half of which will 
give the proper width of the heels to their very ex- 
tremities. With regard to the adjusture, the toe should 
be curved up {en bateau) from the second nails from the 
heel to twice the thickness of the shoe, reckoning from 
the ground to the upper edge of the shoe at this part ; it 
is necessary also that from this situation the extremities 
should rise up towards the heels to one-half its real thick- 
ness, and from thence the convexity should be one and 

a half times its thickness ' (fig. 1 86). This mode of shoe- 
ing was adapted to 

the aplomb and the 
movements of the 
limbs, Bourgelat 
thought ; and his 
reasoning on this 
shows that at least 
he had carefully 
studied the mechan- 
ical problems of pro- 
gression. There 

was nothing in the way of novelty, however, in the curv- 
ature of the shoe; we have shown in figures ^6, 57, and 
66, that ancient specimens found in Belgium and Ger- 

fig. 186 


many were so adjusted, and to about the same degree. Some 
of Bourgelat's maxims on shoeing were very good, especially 
the second, in which he particularly insists on abstaining 
from opening up the heels. ' The second maxim in good 
shoeing is never to open the horse's heels ; this is the 
greatest abuse, and ruins the majority of feet.' 'Opening 
the heels ' is when the farrier, in paring the foot, cuts the 
heel close to the frog, carrying the opening to within a 
finger's breadth of the coronet, so as to separate the 
quarters from the heel, and by this means the foot is 
weakened, and made to contract. That which is called 
opening a heel is in reality contracting it, for the round- 
ness or circumference of the hoof being cut in this 
' opening,' there is nothing left to sustain the heels ; there- 
fore it inevitably happens, if there is any weakness in the 
foot, that it contracts. If the farriers were careful of their 
reputation and mindful of their duty, they would make 
this maxim one of the principal points in their statutes.' 

Any one who has had much to do with horses, or visited 
a shoeing forge, will know that it is customary to adjust or 
try on the new shoe while it is in a hot state, so as to obtain 
for it a more solid and secure bearing on the hoof, and to 
fit it better. Before the i8th century, it is probable that 
the hoof- armature was usually adjusted in a cold state, a 
practice which has many disadvantages. Cccsar Fiaschi 
seems to corroborate this, when he says of the shoeing of 
his day: 'Je ne vois d' autre remede, eu cgard au peu de 
solidite de cette ferrure, que de savoir soi-meme brocher 
les clous on de se faire suivre par un marechal.' He 
nevertheless speaks of fitting the shoe while it was hot. 
At any rate, it is not until 1736 that we find the first men- 


tion of xho. ferrure a chaud, combined with burning the 
hoofs in order to rob them more easily of their horn. 
Lagueriniere' speaks of the farriers burning the horny sole, 
to make it the more easilij pared, and the dangers of this 
practice. ' On doit bien se donner garde de soufFrir qu'on 
brule les pieds aux chevaux avec un fer chaud, comme 
font la plupart des marechaux, afin qu'ils soient plus aises 
a parer.' Then he speaks of the clips of the shoe only- 
being made hot to fit it to the foot of carriage horses : 
' Mais, comme pour les chevaux de carrosse on est oblige 
de mettre un pinqon a la pince du fer, dans cette occasion 
on ne peut se dispenser de faire chauffer ce pinqon, afin 
qu'il puisse s'enfoncer dans la corne ; mais tout le reste du 
fer doit etre froid.' And Lafosse, in 1756, as we have 
seen, speaks of the sole chaiiffee and the sole briilee ; so that 
in this interval the farriers had resorted to the expedient 
of heating all the sole, in order to make it more easily 
yield to the paring-knife, though it is recommended that 
the shoe should be fitted while in a hot state to the hoof. 

In Lagueriniere, we find the first mention of clips 
being used to aid in retaining the shoes. In all the ancient 
specimens I have examined, nothing of the kind is to be 
found ; though frequently the toe of the shoe is slightly 
curved upwards, perhaps to serve as a clip, and a nail is 
sometimes driven into the centre of the toe, as in the 
Hod Hill specimen, with the same object. 

Lafosse "^ the younger repeats, in a great measure, the 
recommendations of his father, and appears to have tested 
the merits of his method ; so that it is scarcely necessary to 

' Traite siir I'Ecole de Cavalerie. Paris, 1733. 
" Cours d'Hippiatrique. 3rd edition. Paris, 1772. 


do more than refer to his half-circle shoeing, which was 
intended, like that of his parent, to prevent horses from 
slipping on the stones : 

' Half-circle shoeing for Carriage Horses. As the 
preceding method of shoeing would not prevent the horse 
from slipping when he first places his foot on slippery- 
ground, seeing that the toe comes down before the other 
parts, and that is entirely covered with iron, we use a half- 
circle shoe. This ought to be on the sides from the nail- 
holes more exact than the foot, and put on in such a 
manner that the whole of the crust projects beyond one- 
half of its thickness around its circumference. 

' After reasonably shortening the foot with the corner 
of the boutoir, a groove is made within the wall adjoining 
the horny sole ; into this channel the hot shoe is fitted. 
It is afterwards attached with small nails, whose heads are 
to be half buried in the holes, and the sharp margin of 
the crust is to be rasped away, to prevent chipping of the 
horn. With this shoeing, the horse goes on the whole of 
the crust, either in ascending or descending. 

'A third kind of half-circle shoeing for Saddle Horses. 
The half-circle or shoe ought to be from two to three 
lines in width, and one and a half in thickness. It ought 
to have 10 holes equally distributed and counter-pierced 
on the same side ; consequently, the nails should be very 
small. It is placed in the same manner as the preceding, 
from which it only differs in width and in having one hole 
more. A horse shod in this manner is lighter ; his move- 
ments are more elastic, firmer on a dry slippery pavement, 
and are more agreeable to the rider.' 

In England, a treatise on the anatomy and diseases of 


the horse's foot, exhibiting some improvement in the 
anatomical details at least, was published by Jeremiah 
Bridges.' After enumerating the various parts of the 
foot and their characteristics, as they were known in his 
day, he proceeds to specify the best kinds of hoofs, and in 
doing so casually informs us, that the horses bred in 
Derbyshire, the mountainous parts of England and Wales, 
as well as in the Highlands of Scotland, have good feet ; 
while those reared on low marshy ground, such as the 
fens of Lincolnshire, have commonly flat and soft feet, 
arising from the moist soil, which relaxes their texture. 

' The best method to keep the foot sound is good 
shoeing ; liberty, sometimes, in pasture ; or proper exer- 
cise. Standing long in stables contracts the feet.' 'The 
usefulness of a horse's shoes is too obvious to want many 
words to explain ; they are a guard to the foot.' Among 
the newer inventions yet spoken of, he enumerates the 
' screw shoe.' 'The design of this shoe is to relieve and 
help nature, by extending the hoof and heels when drawn 
in or contracted, to remove the causes which obstruct a 
free and regular circulation, by restoring the parts affected 
to their proper size and position. This it performs by 
means of two ridges fixed on the inside of the shoe to- 
wards the back part ; these pressing gradually and equally 
on the inside of the hoof, the contracted horny parts are 
mastered, and give way to the operation of the screw, 
which opens the heels. This may be forwarded in des- 
perate cases, when the hoof is quite contracted, and the 

' No Foot, No Horse ; an Essay on the Anatomy of the Foot of 
that Noble and Useful Animal — a Horse. By J. Bridges, Farrier and 
Anatomist. London, 17J1. 


horse a cripple, by making five cuts or scissures on the 
outside of the hoof to the quick. In some cases, when 
the heels only are contracted, two are sufficient, but in 
many the shoe alone will answer the end. To remedy 
this disorder in the foot, proceeding from contracted hoofs 
and heels drawn in, where the complaint is slight, a shoe 
may be made for the horse to work in, with a feather 
(flange or clip) on the under side, as occasion may require, 
which gradually pressing on the inside of the heel, the 
weight of the horse as he treads forces the hoof outwards. 
If both heels be drawn or wired in, a feather must be 
made accordingly on each side.' We have here Carlo 
Ruini's shoe. This treatise, from the enumeration of the 
maladies contained in it, plainly shows what an amount of 
torture must have been suff'ered by the unfortunate horses 
of the last century. The fashion of excessive paring of 
the hoofs, heavy shoes, and faulty nailing, is strongly 
commented upon by Mr Bridges. The use of the ' but- 
teris' and 'drawing knives' for removing the hoof and 
' making the foot fit to the shoe, instead of the shoe to 
the foot,' is particularly reprobated. 

In 1723, a set of new shoes cost- two shillings.' 
A century after Blundevil, and nearly contemporary 
vyith Lafosse, whom he carefully studies and to some extent 
copies, comes W. Osmer.^ In several respects his work 
is much superior to that of Blundevil, and we have 
abundant evidence in it to prove that scientific shoeing, 
founded on a study of the anatomy and physiology of 

' Notes and Queries, vol. ii. p. 186. 

' A Treatise on the Diseases and Lameness of Horses. 3rd edition. 
London, 1766. 



the horse's foot, was making progress. Though Osmer's 
observations are mainly based on the teachings of Lafosse, 
yet he does not blindly follow that celebrity, but having 
carefully tested the mode of shoeing advocated in the 
' Nouvelle Pratique,' points out its defects in a very fair 
and reasonable manner. He is the first writer on this 
subject who gives us a good idea of the way in which the 
art was practised in England ; and in doing this, he is par- 
ticularly severe with those artisans whom Hogarth, in his 
picture of the ' Enraged Musician,' has delineated as 
wearing a cross-belt of bright blue decorated with golden 
horse-shoes, the badge of the peripatetic farrier. ' If you 
pretend to have your horse shod according to your own 
mind, it is a general saying amongst these men that they 
do not want to be taught ; which is as much as to say, in 
other words, there is nothing known in their art, or ever 
will be, but what they already are acquainted with. . . . 
If you ask one of these artists his reason for acting in this 
or that particular manner, or should inquire of him the 
use of any part assigned to some particular end, he can 
give no answer, nor even pretends to have any knowledge 
thereof, but is guided by custom alone.' 

After remarking on the necessity for shoeing in some 
countries and not in others, and the probable simplicity 
of the earlier attempts to defend the hoofs, he says, ' in 
process of time, the fertility of invention, and the vanity 
of mankind, have produced variety of methods, almost 
all of which are productive of lameness ; and I am 
thoroughly convinced, from observation and experience, 
that 19 lame horses of every 20 in this kingdom, are lame 
of the artist, which is owing to the form of the shoe, his 


ignorance of the design of nature, and maltreatment of 
the foot, every part of which is made for some purpose or 
other — though he does not happen to know it. ... I 
suppose it will be universally assented to, that whatever 
method of shoeing approaches nearest to the law of 
nature, such is likely to be the most perfect method.' 
Agreeing perfectly with Lafosse as to the grave injury 
inflicted on the feet by paring the soles and frog, and 
opening the heels, he is careful in explaining the functions 
of these parts. ' The frog, together with the bars, occu- 
pying the hinder part of the foot, is designed by nature 
to distend and keep it open, which, when cut away, suffer 
the heels, the quarters, and the coronary ring to become 
contracted, whereby another lameness is produced, which 
shall be treated in its proper place.' 

This lameness is the ' navicular disease,' supposed to be 
first described by Mr Turner of London some thirty years 
ago. Osmer distinctly mentions it : '1 have seen many 
instances of sudden lameness brought on horses in hunt- 
ing and in racing, by a false step, which have continued 
lame their whole life-time ; and upon examination, I have 
found the ligaments of the nut-bone (0.9 naviculare) ren- 
dered useless for want of timely assistance and knowledge 
of the cause ; from hence the cartilages of the same have 
been sometimes ossified, and the bones of the foot have 
been sometimes wasted, and sometimes enlarged, it being 
no uncommon thing to meet a horse whose feet are not 
fellows, the natural form of the injured foot being gener- 
ally altered hereby ; and nothing can contribute more to 
such an accident than the unequal pressure of the foot in 
our modern concave shoe.' Elsewhere he speaks of the 


erosion of the cartilage of the navicular bone, and the 
symptoms indicative of this foot disease. And long before 
this period, contracted hoofs arising from undue paring by 
the marechaJ., and lameness resulting therefrom, were, as 
we have seen, often mentioned. But the unknown author 
of the ' Grand Marechal, Expert et Franqais,' published at 
Toulouse in 1701, not only gives us this information, but 
actually describes the neurotomy operation for the relief of 
this lameness, the discovery of which in 1 816, by Professor 
Sewell, of London, has almost immortalized his name. 
Here is the modus operandi : ' Vous coucherez le cheval, 
ensuite lui ouvrirez la partie oi^i Ton barre la veine, et 
en tirerez le nerf avec la petite corne ; apres quoi vous 
le graisserez avec du populleum, et il guerira.' 

Osmer continues his discourse on the treatment of the 
horse's hoof in shoeing. ' The spongy, skin-like substance 
(of the frog) is not to be cut away till it becomes ragged, 
because it is the expansion of the skin round the heel, its 
use being to unite more firmly the foot and its contents, 
and to keep the cellular part of the heel from growing 
rigid ; it also surrounds the coronary ring, and may be 
observed to peel and dry away as it descends on the hoof.' 
This skin-like substance is the coronary frogband Bracy 
Clark claims the credit of being the first to notice, in 1 809. 

After laying it down as a rule that the crust or wall 
should only be removed in a degree proportionate to the 
growth, he goes on to say : 'In all broad fleshy feet, the 
crust is thin, and should therefore suffer the least possible 
loss. On such feet the rasp alone is generally sufficient 
to make the bottom plain, and produce a sound founda- 
tion, ivithout the use of the desperate buttress (the French 


boiUoir, the butte?' of Blundevil) .... The superficies of 
the foot round the outside now made plain and smooth, 
the shoe is to be made quite JIat, of an equal thickness 
all round the outside, and open and most narrow back- 
wards, at the extremities of the heels, for the generality 
of horses, — those whose frogs are diseased, either from 
natural or incidental causes, require the shoe to be wider 
backwards ; and to prevent this flat shoe from pressing 
on the sole of the horse, the outer part thereof is to be 
made thickest, and the inside gradually thinner. In such 
a shoe the frog is admitted to touch the ground, the ne- 
cessity of which has been already shown ; add to this, the 
horse stands more firmly on the ground, having the same 
points of support as in a natural state. Here now is a 
plain, easy method, agreeable to common sense and reason, 
conformable to the anatomical structure of the parts, and 
therefore to the design of nature — a method so plain that 
one would think nobody could ever swerve from it, or 
commit any mistake in an art where nothing is required 
but to make smooth the surface of the foot, to know 
what loss of crust each kind of foot will bear with ad- 
vantage to itself, and to nail thereon a piece of iron, 
adapted to the natural tread of the horse ; the design, 
good, or use of the iron, being only to defend the crust 
from breaking, the sole ivant'mg no defence, if never pared. 
.... The modern artist uses little difference in the treat- 
ment of any kind of foot ; but with a strong arm and a 
sharp weapon carries all before him, and will take more 
from a weak-footed horse at one paring, than nature can 
furnish again in some months, whereby such are rendered 
lame. If a strong-footed horse, with narrow and con- 


tracted heels, be brought before him, such meets with 
treatment yet more severe ; the bar is scooped out, the 
frog trimmed, and the sole drawn as thin as possible, even 
to the quick, under pretence of giving him ease ; because, 
he says, he is hot-footed, or foundered. By which treat- 
ment, the horse is rendered more lame than he was before.' 
This causes contraction of the hoof and compression of 
the parts within ; and, besides, a shoe was applied thin on 
the outer circumference and thick on the inner, which, 
being concave to the foot and convex to the ground, 
afforded but few points of support, removed the frog from 
pressure, and caused great mischief. I possess some speci- 
mens of this terrible instrument of last-century barbarism. 
It almost makes one shudder to think of the fearful agony 
the poor horses must have suffered, when compelled to 
wear and work with it. 

Osmer continues : ' Let the shoe on every horse stand 
wider at the points of the heels than the foot itself; other- 
wise, as the foot grows in length, the heel of the shoe in a 
short time gets within the heel of the horse ; which pres- 
sure often breaks the crust, produces a temporary lame- 
ness, perhaps a corn. Let every kind of foot be kept as 
short at the toe as possible (so as not to affect the quick), 
for by a long toe, the foot becomes thin and weak, the 
heels low, and the flexor tendons of the leg are strained ; 
the shortness of the toe helps also to widen the narrow 
heels. In all thin, weak-footed horses the rasp should be 
laid on the toe in such a manner as to render it as thick 
as may be; by which means the whole foot becomes 
gradually thicker, higher, and stronger. In all feet whose 
texture is very strong, the rasp may be laid obliquely on 



the fore part of the foot, towards the toe, and the toe 
itself thinned, whereby the compression on the parts is 
rendered somewhat less, by diminishing the strength of 
the hoof or crust. 

' But this rasp is to be used with discretion, lest the 
crust being too thin, and not able to support the weight 
of the horse, a sandcrack ensue ; which frequently hap- 
pens from too free or unskilful use of this tool, and from 
the natural rigid texture of the coronet. The heel of the 
shoe, on all strong and narrow-heeled horses, should be 
made strait at the extreme points ; the forrn of the shoe 
in some measure helping to distend the heel of the horse. 
For the same reason, the shoe on no horse should be 
continued farther than the point of the heel. It has been 
already said that neither frog nor sole should ev^er be pared ; 
nevertheless, it must be understood that it is impossible 
to pare the crust without taking away some of the adjacent 
sole, and it is also requisite, in order to obtain a smooth 
and even surface, so far as the breadth of the shoe reaches, 
and no farther. The frog also will become ragged, and 
loose pieces will occasionally separate from the body 
thereof, perhaps in one foot, and not in the other. When 
this happens, it should be cut away with a knife, to pre- 
vent the gravel lodging therein. But if it be left to the 
artist to do, he will be sure to take away more of it at one 
time than will grow again in many weeks.' 

He advocates calkins, or ' corking ' the shoes, in winter 
only, when the ground is soft and slippery ; and then says 
of his recommendations : ' This method of treating the 
foot, and such a kind of shoe as has been described, I have 
used many years ; and, to the best of my remembrance. 


have not had a horse lame since, except when pricked by 
the artist ; and it is a matter of the greatest astonishment 
to me, how any other form of a shoe could evep come 

into general use This flat shoe is not to be made 

with a smooth surface, after the French manner, but chan- 
7ielled round, or what is called fullered, after the English 
manner -y"^ by which the horse is better prevented from 
sliding about, and the heads of the nails are less liable to 
be broken off; both which inconveniences attend the 
shoe whose surface is smooth.' 

The best mode of preventing horses from ' cutting ' is 
next dealt with ; and in treating of the value of turning 
horses out to grass without shoes, we learn that Osmer 
was perfectly cognizant of the expansive properties of the 
horse's foot, about which so much discussion and dis- 
covery has been made in this century, though his views 
are rational and perfectly correct ; which is more than can 
be said for those of the majority of succeeding theorists. 
He admits the value of Lafosse's ' lunette ' or ' crescent ' 
shoes, in certain cases, chiefly in those where the hoofs are 
contracted : ' In such a shoe the heel of the horse rests in 
some measure upon the ground, receives some share of 
weight, and is, by means of such weight and pressure, kept 
open and expanded ; by which expansion of the heels the 
compression on the interior parts of narrow-footed horses 
is removed, and he that was before lame is, by degrees, as 
the foot spreads, rendered sound — if there be no disease in 
the interior parts of the foot. Again, where horses have 

' Osmer is the first writer I can discover in England who speaks of 
this 'fullering' as English. The reader will remember it as Burgundian, 
or rather German, and prevalent in the fifth century. 


feet inclined to the other extreme, whose heels are weak 
and low, if the shoe be set somewhat short at the points of 
the heel, such will, by degrees, improve and grow higher. 
Yet an English farrier can never be prevailed on to be- 
lieve that weak low heels will become stronger by leaving 
them exposed to hard objects. But it must be expected 
that horses with weak or diseased feet, who have been ac- 
customed to go in long, broad shoes, will at first go very 
lame in shoes which are either short or narrow. And 
many that are lame of the shoer with various disorders in 
their feet, would be cured by Lafosse's shoes, if the frog, 
sole, and bars tvere not pared out. But when those things 
ivhich are designed by the Divine artist as a natural de- 
fence to the interior part, are cut aivay by the superior 
wisdom of our earthly artists, why then, undoubtedly, La- 
fosse's shoes ivill not do, for the horse requires some artificial 
defence to supply the loss of the natural one. Now it is 
the weight, unequal pressure, form and action of the iron 
made use of to protect the foot when it is thus horribly 
abridged by our artists, that is productive of almost all the 
evils incident to horses' feet.' These words of Mr Osmer 
are as true and applicable at the present day as they were 
more than a century ago. This writer also speaks of the 
drawing-knife — a weapon quite as, if not more, destructive 

fig. 1 87 fig. 1 08 

than the boutoir, both of which are here represented (figs. 
187, 188). 


Mr J. Clark's excellent treatise,' dedicated to the Earl 
of Pembroke, and published twenty years later, is also a pro- 
test against the destructive and cruel mode of managing 
horses' feet, and the vicious character of the shoes applied 
to them. The science of veterinary medicine was rapidly 
advancing ; its practitioners were, many of them, men of 
education and observation, and the gap between the shoer, 
— the man of routine, and the man of science, was gradu- 
ally widening ; so that farriery, properly so called, soon 
lagged behind ; and all the teaching of such men as Blun- 
devil, Osmer, Clark, and others, could not move it from 
its degraded state. Much of this was due, however, to 
the pernicious influence of ignorant grooms and others, 
who, trusted implicitly in this matter by their employers, 
prejudiced them against the introduction of improve- 
ments, the aim of which they had not sufficient intelligence 
to understand. ' However necessary it has been found to 
fix iron shoes upon the hoofs of horses, it is certainly con- 
trary to the original design of shoeing them, first to destroy 
their hoofs by paring, &c., and afterwards to put on the 
foot a broad strong shoe to protect what remains, or rather 
to supply the defect or want of that substance which has 
been taken away. Yet, however absurd this manner of 
treating the feet of horses may appear, it is well known 
that it has been carried to a very great length, and still 
continues to be thought absolutely necessary. The de- 
struction of their hoofs, and many other bad consequences 
arising from it, are every day but too apparent.' So says 
Mr Clark. The Earl of Pembroke, in his work on 

' Observations on the Shoeing of Horses. By J. Clark, Farrier to 
His Majesty for Scotland. 3rd edition. Edinburgh, 1782. 


Horsemanship, published some years previously, writes : 
' Physic and a hutteris, in well-informed hands, would not 
be fatal ; but in the manner we are now provided with 
farriers, they must be quite banished. Whoever at pre- 
sent lets his farrier, groom, or coachman, in consideration 
of his having swept dung out of the stables for a greater 
or less number of years, ever even mention anything more 
than water-gruel, a clyster, or a little bleeding, and that, 
too, very seldom ; or pretend to talk of the nature of feet, 
of the seat of lamenesses, sicknesses, or their cures, may 
be certain to find himself very shortly quite on foot, and 
fondly arms an absurd and inveterate enemy against his 
own interest. It is incredible what tricking knaves most 
stable-people are, and what daring attempts they will make 
to gain an ascendant over their masters, in order to have 
their own foolish projects complied with. In shoeing, for 
example, I have more than once known that, for the sake 
of establishing their own ridiculous and pernicious system, 
when their masters have differed from it, they have, on 
purpose, lamed horses, and imputed the fault to the shoes, 
after having in vain tried, by every sort of invention and 
lies, to discredit the use of them. How can the method 
of such people be commendable, whose arguments, as well 
as practice, are void of common sense ? If your horse's 
foot be bad and brittle, they advise you to cover it with a 
very heavy shoe ; the consequence of which proceeding is 
evident : for how should the foot, which before could scarce 
carry itself, be able afterwards to carry such an additional 
weight, which is stuck on, moreover, with a multitude of 
nails, the holes of which tear and weaken the hoof? The 
only system all these simpletons seem to agree in, is to shoe 


in general with excessive heavy and clumsy, ill-shaped 
shoes, and very many nails, to the total destruction of the 
foot. The cramps (French crampon, Anglice calkin) they 
annex tend to destroy the bullet (fetlock — Fr. bou/ei),cLnd 
the shoes, made in the shape of a walnut-shell, prevent the 
horse's walking upon the firm basis which God has given 
him for that end, and thereby oblige him to stumble and 
fall. They totally pare away, also, and lay bare the inside 
of the animal's foot with their detestable butteris, and 
afterwards put on very long shoes, whereby the foot is 
hindered from having any pressure at all upon the heels, 
which pressure might still perchance, notwithstanding 
their dreadful cutting, keep the heels properly open, and 
the foot in good order.' 

Mr Clark informs us that, in his day, horses in the 
North and West parts of Scotland, and in Wales, went 
always without shoes, and ' performed all manner of work 
without any detriment to their hoofs, which, from being 
accustomed to go bare, and rubbing or touching fre- 
quently against hard bodies, like the hands of a labouring 
man, they acquire a callousness and obduracy which 
greatly adds to their firmness.' In Prussia, too, it was 
only customary to shoe them on the fore-feet. ' In Ger- 
many they use thick, heavy, strong shoes, with three 
cramps or caukers, one on each heel and one on the toe 
of the shoe.' 

In describing the anatomy of the foot, he explains 
that ' in the middle of the frog is a longitudinal cleft or 
opening, b?/ which the heels have a small degi'ee of con- 
traction and expansion at every tread which the horse 
makes upon the ground;' and, speaking of the hoof, he 


remarks that the sole and frog, by benig exposed to wear, 
acquire great firmness and tenacity, which enables them 
to resist external injuries. 'But no apology whatever can 
vindicate that pernicious practice of cutting and paring 
their hoofs to that excess which is but too frequently done 
every time a horse is shoed, and, in order to repair the 
injury done to the foot, fix on it a strong, broad-brimmed 
shoe, from the very construction of which, together with 
the loss of its natural defence, horses, too frequently, are 
rendered totally useless,' ' In preparing the foot for the 
shoe, the frog, the sole, and the bars or binders, are pared 
so much that the blood frequently appears. The shoe by 
its form, being thick on the inside of the rim and thin 
upon the outside, must of consequence be made concave 
or hollow on that side which is placed immediately next 
the foot, in order to prevent its resting on the sole. The 
shoes are generally of an immoderate weight and length, 
and every means is used to prevent the frog from resting 
upon the ground by making the shoe-heels thick, broad, 
and strong, or raising cramps or caukers on them. From 
this form of the shoe, and from this method of treating 
the hoof, the frog is raised to a considerable height above 
the ground, the heels are deprived of that substance 
which was provided by nature to keep the crust extended 
at a proper wideness, and the foot is fixed as it were in a 
mould.' ' If we attend further to the convex surface of 
this shoe, and the convexity of the pavement upon which 
horses walk, it will then be evident that it is impossible 
for them to keep their feet from slipping, especially upon 
declivities of streets. It is also a common practice, espe- 
cially in this place, to turn up the heels of the shoes into 


what is called cramps or cankers, by which means the 
weight of the horse is confined to a very narrow surface — 
the inner round edge of the shoe-rim, and the points or 
caukers of each heel ; the consequence is, that it throws 
the weight of the body forward upon the toes, and is apt 
to make the horse slip and stumble.' The shoes in use 
appear to hav^e been possessed of every bad quality, and 
must have inflicted fearful torture upon the unlucky ani- 
mals compelled to wear them, particularly after the out- 
rageous manner in which their hoofs were pared. ' Far- 
riers, in general, are too desirous to excel one another in 
making what is termed fine neat work ; and that is no 
other than paring the sole till it yields easily under the 
pressure of the thumb ; and to give the frog a fine shape, 
it is frequently pared till the blood appears, to prevent the 
effusion of which the actual cautery is sometimes applied. 
It is to be observed, that, when the sole is so much pared, 
it dries and hardens in proportion as it is thinned ; and 
the strong horny substance of the crust, overcoming the 
resistance from the sole, is thereby contracted. This will 
produce lameness, the real cause of which is overlooked 
or little attended to. Among the many disadvantages 
that attend the common shoes, one is, their being more 
liable to be pulled ofi', from their great weight, length, &c., 
especially in deep ground, in riding fast, or when the toe 
of the hinder foot strikes against the heel of the fore-shoe. 
To prevent this inconvenience, sixteen or eighteen nails 
are frequently made use of, which destroy and weaken the 
crust by their being placed too near one another; and it 
is not uncommon, when a shoe nailed in this manner is 
pulled off, that the crust on the outside of the nails breaks 



away with it. If this should happen a few days after the 
foot has been so finely pared (which is not unusual), or 
upon a journey, and at a distance from any place where a 
shoe may be immediately procured, the horse instantly 
becomes lame, from the thinness of the sole and weakness 
of the crust, and is hardly able to support the weight of 
his own body, much less that of his rider.' 

This able writer gives two drawings of one of these 
terrible instruments of torture — the foot and ground sur- 
face of an ordinary shoe (figs. 189, 190). 

flg. iSg fig. 190 

The shoe recommended to be worn by Mr Clark is 
that described by Osmer, though he says it was employed 
by him many years before that veterinarian's treatise was 
published. ' In shoeing a horse we should in this, as in 
every other case, study to follow nature ; and certainly that 
shoe which is made of such a form as to resemble as near 
as possible the natural tread and shape of the foot, must 

be preferable to any other In order that we may 

imitate the natural tread of the foot, the shoe must be 
made flat, if the height of the sole does not forbid it ; it 
must be of an equal thickness all around the outside of 
the rim (for a draught-horse about half an inch thick, 
and less in proportion for a saddle-horse); and on that 



part of it which is to be placed immediately next the foot, 
a narrow rim or margin is to be formed, not exceeding 
the breadth of the crust upon which it is to rest, with the 
nail-holes placed exactly in the middle ; and, from this 
narrow rim, the shoe is to be made gradually thinner 
towards its inner edge (figs. 191, 192). The breadth of 

fig. 191 

the shoe is to be regulated by the size of the foot and 
the work to which the horse is accustomed ; but, in 
general, it should be made rather broad at the toe, and 
narrow towards the extremity of each heel, in order to let 
the frog rest with freedom upon the ground. The shoe 
being thus formed and shaped like the foot, the surface 
of the crust is to be made smooth, and the shoe fixed on 
with eight, or at most ten, nails, the heads of which should 
be sunk into the holes, so as to be equal with the surface 
of the shoe. The sole, frog, and bars should never be 

This, it will be at once perceived, is nothing more or 
less than the modern seated-shoe which Mr Clark recom- 
mends ; but he appears to have met the usual amount of 
opposition. ' So much are farriers, grooms, etc., pre- 
judiced in favour of the common method of shoeing and 
paring out the feet, that it is with difficulty they can even 
be prevailed upon to make a proper trial of it. They 


cannot be satisfied unless the frog be finely shaped, the 
sole pared, the bars cut out, in order to make the heels 
appear wide. This practice gives them a show of wide- 
ness for the time ; yet that, together with the concave 
form of the shoe, forwards the contraction of the heels, 
which, when confirmed, renders the animal lame for life. 
In this flat form of shoe its thickest part is upon the out- 
side of the rim, where it is most exposed to be worn ; and 
being made gradually thinner towards its inner edge, it is 
therefore much lighter than the common concave shoe, 
yet it will last equally as long, and with more advantage to 
the hoof; and as the frog and heel is allowed to rest upon 
the ground, the foot enjoys the same points of support as 
in its natural state. It must therefore be much easier 
for the horse in his way of going, and be a means of 
making him surer-footed. It is likewise evident that 
from this shoe the hoof cannot acquire an)^ bad form, 
when at the same time it receives every advantage that 
possibly could be expected from shoeing. In this respect 
it may very properly be said that we make the shoe to 
the foot, and not the foot to the shoe, as is but too much 
the case in the concave shoes, where the foot very much 
resembles that of a cat's fixed in a walnut-shell.' ' I would 
observe, upon the whole, that the less substance we take 
away from the natural defence of the foot, except on 
particular occasions which may require it, the less artificial 
defence will be necessary : the flatter we make the shoe 
we give the horse the more points of support, and imitate 
the natural tread of the foot ; therefore the nearer we fol- 
low these simple rules, the nearer we approach to perfec- 
tion in this art.' 



To Osmer and Clark, therefore, belongs the merit of 
having introduced this great innovation in the shape of 
the shoe, and persistently pointed out the injury caused 
by excessive paring and unscientific shoeing. To 
Mr Clark is most certainly due the credit of having un- 
mistakably asserted that the foot of the horse expands 
and contracts in a lateral direction during progression. 
In nearly every treatise published on the horse's foot, or 
on shoeing, particularly on the continent, during the last 
20 years, this notion has been erroneously ascribed to 
Bracy Clark, who is always referred to as its originator. 





Towards the termination of the i8th century, a 
veterinary school, which might be termed private, was 
commenced in London, and its first teacher, M. St Bel, 
published a small treatise on shoeing. This, however, 
appears to be nothing more than a commendation of 
Bourgelat's method. The shoe advised to be worn, 
nevertheless, was concave on the ground surface, to corre- 
spond to, or resemble, the concavity of the sole, and plane 
towards the hoof, something like the hunting-shoe of the 
present time. It was constantly used when the College 
was first established. More important was the little work 



by William Moorcroft/ assistant professor, and afterwards 
the daring explorer of Central Asia. After describing, 
like some of his later predecessors, the anatomy of the 
foot and the principles which ought to prevail in its de- 
fence, and pointing out that in proportion as a greater 
quantity of crust is brought to bear flat on the shoe the 
firmer the horse must stand ; and the less pressure that 
takes place between the sole and the shoe, the less chance 
will there be of his being lamed, he speaks of various 
shoes. As those intended for the fore-feet have always, 
and rightly, been looked upon as the most important, 
considering that they have to bear the principal portion 
of the weight, and that the fore-feet are by far the most 
frequently lamed, the defences for this region will only 
be noticed here. Moorcroft describes the narrow shoe, 
or plate — a flat shoe, the exact breadth of the crust, 
and of a moderate thickness : this was only serviceable 
for racing-horses and hunters, ' A flat shoe, of the exact 
breadth of the crust, and of a moderate thickness, would 
defend this part sufficiently as long as it lasted ; but as it 
would wear out in a few days, or ev^en in a few hours, when 
the friction happened to be violent, and as very frequent 
shoeing is expensive, as well as hurtful to the hoof itself, 
this kind of shoe is only fit for racing, or hunting on soft 
ground.'^ Then the shoe with a flat upper surface, and 
broader than the crust, is figured. This he thinks ob- 
jectionable, as it would press on a portion of the sole 
and cause lameness ; so that, to avoid such a mishap, 
the sole is required to be pared or hollowed out, which 

' Cursory Account of the Various Methods of Shoeing Horses. 
London, 1800. * Op. cit., p. 6. 



Moor croft thought very injurious. Next, the shoe in 
common use is noticed. This is the same as that so 
strongly commented upon by Osmer and Clark, with its 
upper surface sloping downwards from the outer to the 
inner edge. Its defects are indicated in a similar manner, 
and it is shown that a shoe ought to possess the following 
qualities : it ought to be so strong as to wear a reasonable 
time ; it ought to give to the crust all the support it can 
receive ; it ought not to alter the natural shape of the 
foot ; and it ought not to press at all on the sole, or to 
injure any of the natural functions of the foot. The shoe 
best calculated to answer these purposes was that so 
strongly recommended by Osmer and Clark, and which 
Mr Moorcroft designated the ' seated shoe ; ' all the ex- 
periments he had instituted for a number of years led 
him to this conclusion. His directions as to paring the 
sole and frog are similar to those of Mr Clark ; though 
the nature and functions of the latter appear to have 
been imperfectly understood by him, as he complains of 
the frog becoming hard and losing its spongy texture 
when allowed to remain unpared and in contact with the 
ground. ' Eight nails for each shoe are found to be enough 
for saddle and light draught horses ; but for such as are 
employed in heavy draught, ten are required. A smaller 
number does not hold the shoe sufficiently fast; and a 
greater number, by acting like so many wedges, weaken 
the hoof, and rather dispose the crust to break off than 

give additional security It may be laid down 

as a general rule, that the last nail should not be 
nearer to the heel than from two inches to an inch and 
a half.' 


This new method of shoeing, so long advocated by 
Osmer and Clark, had gained but trifling success up to 
the time when Moorcroft wrote his treatise. That gentle- 
man, full of enthusiasm in the new-born profession, and 
sanguine as to the benefits to be derived from the seated- 
shoe, had the aid of machinery invoked to make this kind 
of armature more rapidly and less expensively than it 
could be manufactured by hand ; and this, together with 
his deservedly high reputation as a veterinarian, brought 
it into general use, and so firmly established it in public 
opinion, that it is still the common shoe. It has also 
made some progress on the continent, where it is known 
as the ' English Shoe.' 

In the opinion of Mr Moorcroft, this particular kind 
of defence was better adapted for ordinary wear than the 
semi-lunar or ' tip ' shoe of Lafosse, or even the thin-heeled 
shoe ; though he was a strong advocate for frog and heel 
pressure on the ground. 

About this period Professor Coleman, successor to 
M. St Bel, published his elaborate work' on the horse's 
foot and shoeing, which was dedicated to His Majesty 
George III. An analysis of this voluminous monograph 
cannot be attempted here ; suffice it to say that, amid 
much error as to the physiology of the foot, and conse- 
quent incorrect deductions in the application of this to 
shoeing, there is yet much truth. Every allowance must 
be made in criticizing many of Coleman's notions with 
regard to shoeing. Though a most promising surgeon 

' Observations on the Structure, Economy, and Diseases of the 
Foot of the Horse, and On the Principles and Practice of Shoeing, 
London, 1798, 1803. 


before joining the Veterinary College, his opportunities 
for studying comparative pathology, and especially the 
subject now under consideration, must have been rare. 
Medical men, it must be remembered, unless they study 
these matters as carefully as they have done those con- 
nected with their own profession, are apt to commit very 
grave mistakes, their special knowledge being, at times, 
more liable to mislead than to guide them. 

Coleman repeats the statement as to the evil influences 
of paring and bad shoeing ; and, owing to his exaggerated 
notions of the elasticity and expansive properties of the 
foot, adopted almost entirely Lafosse's ideas as to the 
manner in which it ought to be shod. These were, as we 
have noticed, frog and heel pressure. The conclusions at 
which he arrived were these : — 

' I. That the natural form of the fore-feet of horses, 
before any art has been employed, approaches to a 

' 2. The internal cavity of the hoof, when circular, is 
completely filled by the sensible parts of the foot. 

'3. The hoof is composed of horny insensible fibres, 
that take the names of crust, sole, bars, and frog. 

' 4. The crust is united with the last bone of the foot, 
by a number of laminated, elastic substances. 

' 5. The uses of the laminae are, to support the weight 
of the animal, and, from their elasticity, to prevent con- 

' 6. The horny sole is externally concave, internally 
convex, and united by its edge with the inferior part of 
the crust. 

' 7. The uses of the horny sole are fo act as a spring, 


by descending at the heels ;' to preserve the sensible sole 
from pressure, and (with its concavity) to form a con- 
vexity towards the earth. 

' 8. The external bars are nothing more than a con- 
tinuation of the crust, forming angles at the heels. 

' 9. The internal bars are a continuation of the laminae 
of the crust, attached to the horny sole at the heels, 
within the hoof; and that these insensible laminae are 
intimately united with sensible laminated bars, connected 
with the sensible sole. 

' 10. The use of the external bars is to preserve the 
heels expanded ; and the use of the internal horny bars, 
to prevent separation and dislocation of the horny sole 
from the sensible sole. 

'11. The external frog is convex, and of an insensible, 
horny, elastic nature. 

' 12. The internal sensible frog is of the same form, 
very highly elastic, and united with two elastic cartilages. 

'13. The frogs are not made to protect the tendon. 

' 14. The use of the frog is to prevent the horse from 
slipping, by its convexity embracing the ground ; and 
from the elasticity of the sensible and horny frogs, they 
act as a spring to the animal, and keep expanded the heels. 

'15. The common practice of shoeing is, to cut the 
frog and totally remove the bars. 

' 16. The removal of the bars and frog deprives these 
organs of their natural function. 

' 17. The shoe commonly employed is thicker at the 
heel than the toe. 

' The italics are my own, and are merely intended to indicate in 
what respects Coleman probably or assuredly erred. 


' 18. This shoe is convex externally, concave inter- 
nally, and four nails placed in each quarter of the crust. 

' 19. The shoes, being nailed at the heels, confine the 
quarters of the crust, and produce contraction. 

' 20. The frog, being raised from the ground by a 
thick-heeled shoe, becomes soft, and very susceptible of 

'21. The shoe being thick at the heel only preserves 
the frog from pressure in the stable and on smooth sur- 
faces, while sharp and projecting stones are perpetually 
liable to strike the frog at every step. 

' 22. The frog being soft becomes inflamed whenever 
it meets with pressure from hard bodies. 

'23. The concavity of the shoe within, tends to pre- 
vent the expansion of the quarters, and to bruise the heels 
of the sole. 

' 24. The convexity without makes the horse very 
liable to slip. 

'25. Contracted hoofs, corns, and frequently thrushes 
and canker, are to be attributed to this practice. 

' 26. The intention of shoeing is to preserve the hoof 
sound, and of the same form and structure as nature made 
it ; and as the common practice is altering its form, and 
producing disease, there can be no doubt but that the 
common practice of shoeing is imperfect, and requires 
alteration and improvement. 

' 27. It is very practicable to preserve the hoof cir- 
cular and free from corns, contraction, thrushes, and 

'28. To accomplish this very desirable object, it is 
necessary, in all cases, first to endeavour to remove a por- 


don of the sole betiveen the ivhole length of the bars and 

' 29. The sole should be made concave at the toe, ivith 
a drawing-knife, in all cases where the horn is sufficiently 
thick to admit of such removal. 

'30. The internal surface of the shoe may be flat 
whenever the whole of the sole is concave, and will admit 
of a picker between a flat shoe and the sole. 

'31. When the interior portion of the sole is thin, or 
fat, or convex, and cannot be made concave, the shoe at this 
part should be made concave. 

'32. As the crust, in flat feet, is always thin, the shoe 
at the toe should have a very small seat, only equal to the 

' ^^. As the sole at the quarters, even in flat or con- 
vex hoofs, will very generally ad7nit of removal, the 
quarters and heels of the shoes will be flat. 

' 34. That while the quarters and heels of the shoe, on 
the upper surface, are flat, the concavity of the shoe at the 
toe has no kind of influence in contracting the heels. 

'^ 2)S- The external surface of the shoe should be 
regularly concave, to correspond to the form of the sole 
and crust, before the horse is shod. 

'36. This external concavity of the shoe is well cal- 
culated to embrace the ground, and to prevent the horse 
from slipping. 

' 37. The relative thickness of the shoe, at the toe and 
heel, should be particularly attended to. 

'38. The wear of the shoe, at the toe of the fore-feet, 
is generally three times greater than the consumption of 
iron at the heels. 


'39. The heels of the shoe should be about one-third 
the substance of the toe. 

' 40. This form of shoe is preferred to a high heel, as 
it allows the frog to perform its function, by embracing 
the ground, and acting as a spring. 

'41. The weight of the shoe being diminished at the 
heel, the labour of the muscles that bend and extend the 
leg is diminished. 

'42. Where no part of the crust can be removed 
from the toe, and the horse has been in the habit of wear- 
ing high shoes, the heels should be made only one-tenth 
of an inch, every time of shoeing, thinner than the shoes 

'43. If the frog be callous and sound, and the toe 
admits of being shortened, the iron may be diminished at 
the heels, in the same proportion as the toe is shortened. 

' 44. The muscles and tendons will be exerted beyond 
their tone if the heels of the shoes are not gradually 
thinned as the horn grows, or as the toe of the crust can 
be removed. 

'45. Young horses, with perfect feet, should not have 
thin-heeled shoes at first, unless the crust at the toe can 
be removed in the same degree as the iron at the toe ex- 
ceeds the heels. 

'46. Where half an inch of horn can be taken from 
the toe of the crust, a shoe thin at the heel may be at 
once applied without any injury to the muscles and ten- 

'47. Where the heels exceed two inches in depth, and 
the frogs are equally prominent, and the ground dry, a 
short shoe, thin at the heels, may be applied. 


'48. The heels of this shoe should not reach the seat 
of com, between the bars and crust. 

'49. That in warm climates, and in this country in 
summer, the wear of the horn exposed to the ground will 
not be greater than the growth from the coronet. 

' 50. Where the heels are more than two inches high, 
and the ground wet, it is better to lower the heels by the 
butteris than to wear them down by friction with the 

'51. It is not safe to employ the short shoe on wet 
ground, except in blood horses with very thick crusts, 
and then only with great attention to the consumption of 

'52. The long thin-heeled shoe should rest on the 
solid junction of the bars with the crust. 

^ ^^. The nails should be carried all round the toe of 
the crust. 

' 54. They should be kept as far as possible from the 
heels, and particularly in the inside quarter. 

'55. Where the crust is thin, the nail-holes of the 
new shoe should not be made opposite, but between the 
old nail-holes of the crust. 

' ^6. The nail-hole should be made with a punch of a 
wedge-like form, so as to admit the whole head of the 
nail into the shoe. 

'57. The head of the nail should be conical, to cor- 
respond with the nail-hole. 

'58. The shoe and nails of a common-sized coach- 
horse may weigh about eighteen ounces. 

'59. The shoe and nails of a saddle-horse may weigh 
twelve ounces. 


' 60. The shoe should remain on the hoof about 
twenty-eight days ; but if it wears out before this period, 
the next shoe should be made thicker. 

'61. Horses employed in hunting, in frost, and in the 
shafts of carriages, require an artificial stop on the hind- 
foot, and in some situations on the fore-feet. 

'62. Whenever this shoe is employed, it should be 
turned up on the outside heel, and the horn of the same 
heel should be lowered. 

' 60,. The horn on the inside heel should be preserved, 
and the heel of the shoe more or less thick, in proportion 
to the horn removed on the outside heel. 

' 64. This shoe, when applied, is generally as high on 
the inside as on the outside heel. 

'65. A bar-shoe is very beneficial where the frog is 
hard and sound, and where the heels have been much re- 
moved to bring the frog in contact with pressure. 

' 66. The upper part of the bar should rest on the 
frog, and the part opposite the ground turned up in order 
to act as a stop. 

'67. When this shoe is applied the frog receives pres- 
sure, the heels will be expanded, and the muscles and 
tendons not more stretched than before the heels were 

'68. This shoe may be applied for sandcracks, but no 
part of it should be supported by the crust opposite the 

' 69. Where, from bad shoeing, the bars are removed, 
and corns are produced, a bar-shoe may be employed to 
prevent pressure opposite to the seat of corn. 

' 70. Where the sole is too thin at the heels to admit of 


cuiy removal 2vith a drmving-kiiife, the bar-shoe may be 
applied with advantage. 

'71. In this case the heels of the shoe should be 
raised from the heels of the crust, and the bar rest on the 

'72. The hoof being cut and the shoe applied, as 
directed, will preserve the hoof in its circular form.' 

Keeping the sole from pressure, and allowing the frog 
to bear the greater portion of the horse's weight, was the 
prevailing idea with Professor Coleman. The foot was 
distorted and mutilated to attain this object, and the most 
curious contrivances devised to confine the bearing solely 
to the toe of the foot and the frog. With regard to these 
principles of shoeing he was particularly dogmatic. ' There 
are only two principles to govern the practice of shoeing, 
which Jbf all horses in all ages and in all countries must 

be invariably followed and which are of much 

greater moment than the shape of the shoe itself. So 
long as nails and iron are employed to protect the hoof, 
the crust is the part that should receive the nails and the 
pressure of the shoe; and the sole of every horse employed 
for every purpose is a part that should not be in contact 
with the shoe. All other rules for the practice of shoeing 
are subordinate and conditional.' Artificial frogs were 
invented and patented to make due pressure on that part 
of the foot, and everything was done to cause the expansion 
of the heels ; and yet the sole was recklessly scooped away, 
ivhile to fasten on a half-shoe, eight nails were employed 
(fig. 193). Though the method of shoeing with 'tips' 
and thin-heeled shoes had been recommended by Lafosse 
and others, these authorities are never once mentioned by 


Coleman ; and at present, with those who have had better 

selves acquainted with the con- jIloBBillBi^^ 

struction and functions of the iffliiHiiii i-' -.■.. '''^^MilMk 

opponent of the seated-shoe, ^^- '^^ 

and offered the strongest arguments he could frame to 
make it unpopular. It may be observed, however, that he 
afterwards returned to the thick-heeled shoe, but added 
to it clips at the inner angles of the heels, intended to 
grasp and pull the bars outwards. This antiquated inven- 
tion was also patented,' and was subsequently re-invented 
by many anti-contractionists. It had no success with 

' This was the same kind of shoe as that proposed by Carlo Ruini, of 
Bologna, in 1598, for the same condition of the hoofs. After dilating the 
heels and strengthening the feet by allowing the horse to roam at large 
in a meadow, or unsoling the hoofs, that writer adds : ' Se gli mettera un 
ferro debole sottile, e stretto di verga ; il quale si a tanto largo nelle cal- 
cagna, che il corno, o guscio del piedevi posi sopra j e habbi nella parte 
di dentro due oruchie eguali, ma d'ogni lato acconcie talmente, che 
pigliano nella parte di dentro del corno, e guscio del piede, senza poza 
potere in modo alcuno otFendere, e danneggiare il vivo, e I'osso del 
piede. Dipoi essendo per buon spatio di tempo stato a molle il piede 
neir acqua calda, e moUificato, si pigliera con le tenaglie il ferro nel 
calcagno e tirandolo per forza verso fuori, s'allarghera a bastanza in- 
sieme con li quarli e con le calgagno del piede.' — Auatomiaet Injirimla 
del Cavallo, p. 653. The same description of shoe, and one opening 
with a screw, is noticed by J. Bridges. 


One of his pupils, Bracy Clark,' to some extent 
adopted his views, though in other respects he far out- 
stripped him in exaggerating certain functions of tlie 
foot, and devising means to aid those functions. With- 
out the slightest compunction, apparently, he claims 
the merit of having discovered the elastic properties of 
the foot, and re-discovers various parts. His weakness, or 
rather his mania, with regard to the horse's foot was 
lateral expansion, and descent of the sole in progression. 
This exaggerated idea so influenced his notions of shoe- 
ing, that he spent several years endeavouring to prove that 
shoes were unnecessary, and when at last forced to employ 
this defence, he invented several to be attached to the 
hoof without nails. The unyielding iron rim riveted to 
the lower margin of the foot by rigid nails was to him the 
only source of disease ; the shoe in common use, the un- 
skilful nailing, the destructive paring, were but little to 
blame ; the prevention of that heel movement ivhich resem- 
bled the ivaving of an osier branch in the ivind ivhen a 
horse galloped, and which contributed so much to the 
rapidity of movement, was the sole cause. The nailless 
shoe, however, was too complicated, and to remain secure 
on the hoof had to be as immovably fixed as the nailed 
one ; so a jointed shoe was invented, identical in every 
respect with that of Caesar Fiaschi, and so often spoken of 
by writers subsequent to that marechal. This shoe was 
useless, and could no more facilitate the lateral expansion 
and contraction, even had it existed to the degree Bracy 
Clark imagined, than the ordinary one. With the joint 

' A Series of Original Experiments on the Foot of the Living 
Horse. London, 1809. 2nd Edit., 1829. 


only at the toe, where there was no motion, and the 
branches nailed as usual to the sides and heels, where this 
excessive play was supposed to be going on, it might have 
been foreseen that no good could result. The thin-heeled 
shoe, the bar shoe, and indeed every shoe, proved unsatis- 
factory to him, and the chief value of his experiments and 
labours rests on the demonstration of the changes brought 
about in hoofs by a vicious system of paring and shoeing 
them, which the highly-developed expansion theory caused 
Bracy Clark entirely to overlook. This author was of 
opinion that the sole and frog should not come into con- 
tact with the ground. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that the false doctrine 
of lateral expansion and sole descent propounded by 
Bracy Clark and Professor Coleman, has had a most 
serious and pernicious influence on farriery, not only in this 
country, but on the continent ; and has largely tended to the 
production and perpetuation of foot diseases that are tor- 
turing to the animal, and baffling to the veterinary surgeon. 

The theories published by Bracy Clark, with regard to 
the elasticity of the foot, were certainly ingenious, but not 
to any degree original ; though they were rashly specu- 
lative, and must have been based on the most slender 
instalment of proper experience and observation. 

This century has been very prolific in treatises on 
farriery, inventions, and modifications of horse-shoes and 
horse-shoeing. In England, among other writers, at its 
commencement, were White, Blaine, and Peall. These 
veterinarians appear to have been more or less in favour 
of Coleman's thin-heeled sho'^, and sanctioned the well 
paring-out method of preparing the hoof. 



The best work produced at this period was un- 
doubtedly that of Mr Goodwin, veterinary surgeon to 
King George IV.' It is written in a fair and scientific 
spirit, and gives an excellent resume of the merits and 
demerits of the various systems of shoeing then in vogue. 
With regard to the different kinds of shoes in use, he dis- 
covers faults in the seated, jointed, thin-heeled, and com- 
mon shoe, which forbade his recommending them for 
general purposes. The French mode of shoeing, which 
was Bourgelat's, came nearest to his standard of supe- 
riority, yet he had two objections to this system in 
general : ' the convex form of the shoe on the ground 
side, and the concave form on the foot side. I object to 
the first, because the horse is by no means so safe or 
secure on his feet, more particularly when going over 
stones.' The second objection was that offered by the 
older writers to the common English bowl, or quoit-shaped, 
shoe. His new system appears to have been similar to 
that recommended by Professor St Bel, so far as the 
ground surface of the shoe was concerned. ' In the shoe 
I have adopted, I have reversed the form on each side 
(speaking of the French pattern), making it concave on 
the ground surface^ and convex on the foot .surface, wizh an 
inclination from the inner to the outer rim (figs. 194, 
195). To effect this form on each side, it is necessary 
that the shoe should be sloped or bevelled on the ground 
side, from the outward to the inward part all round the 
shoe, except about an inch and a half at the heels. To 
accomplish this inclination on the foot side, it is necessary 
to thicken the inner part at the heels, as far as the flat sur- 

' A New System of Shoeing Horses. Loudon, 1820. 


face extends.' This inclination was to be moderate at first. 

fig. 194 fig. 195 

thougii lameness from an extreme degree had not been 
observed. The shoe was only adapted for hoofs with strong 
concave soles ; yet with all other kinds of feet, if it was 
clear of the sole, the inclination was a matter of no mo- 
ment. The curve at the toe, and the manner of punching 
the nail-holes, resembled the French shoe. This pattern 
lasted in wear as long as the ordinary armature. It Vv^ill be 
seen that this is simply a modification, or rather a combina- 
tion, of Solleysefs fer a pantoiifle, Bourgelat's curved or 
adjusted shoe, and the concave-surfaced shoe of St Bel. 
' The concave ground surface renders the animal more 
secure on his legs, as he has a greater purchase on the 
ground, and by this form the weight is thrown on the 
crust, or wall, which prevents any unnecessary strain on 
the nails and clinches.' He refers to the resemblance 
between this and Solleysel's shoe, points out that his is 
formed with the same intention to prevent contraction 
and other permanent diseases of the feet, ' because it ap- 
peared evident to me, that when the weight of the animal 
comes on a shoe of this form, it must liave a tendency to 
expand instead of to contract the hoof, and I have found 
from much experience, that the obstacles opposed to tliis 



form existed only in theory, as there are none in practice. 
It is necessary, however, to remark, that the degree of 
inclination must be regulated by the previous state of the 
foot, and its propensity to contraction. . . . When it is 
recollected that the horny sole, if not diseased, is concave, 
it will in course admit of a convex surface being applied 
to it ; and when the superfluous parts of the horny sole 
produced since the last shoeing are removed, and the crust 
at the quarters is preserved firm and good, there is scarcely 
an instance where this mode of shoeing cannot be put 
into practice, and sufficient room be left also to pass a 
picker between the shoe and the sole to the nails.' 

The preparation of the foot, previous to shoeing, con- 
sisted in the removal of all the superfluous growth : ' When 
hoofs are protected by shoes, the consumption of horn by 
wear and tear is nearly prevented ; but as the growth of the 
hoof is constantly going on, it is evident that all the 
superfluous parts will require to be removed at every 
period of shoeing, otherwise it would run into a state of 
exuberance similar to the human nails if they were not 
cut. The first part to be reduced is the toe, which should 
be removed with a knife or rasp on the sole side of the 
foot, keeping in view the necessary curve : the next parts 
are the heels, which should, if they descend below the 
frog, be rasped to bring them on a level with it : having 
attended to these two points, it will be seen how much it 
is necessary to remove from the quarters, leaving them 
full and strong, but in a straight line from the heels to 
the curve, which allows the foot, when in action, a flat 
part to land on, and describes a space equal to the landing 
part of the foot when shod with a parallel shoe. This 


direction differs a little from the French ' adjusting 
balance,' inasmuch as they direct four points of adjust- 
ment at the toe, and two at the heels, which leaves the 
quarters rounded, and renders the foot not so secure on 
the ground. The sole next must have attention ; the 
superfluous parts of which that have appeared since the 
last shoeing should be removed ; this will leave it concave, 
and the crust or wall below the sole. Mr Moorcroft ob- 
serves, that paring the soles has a tendency to bring on 
' pumiced ' feet, but I have not observed any such effect ; 
on the contrary, if the sole is allowed to grow too thick, 
it loses its elastic property, and the sensible sole suflers in 
proportion to the degree of thickness and want of elasticity! 
The frog, if too large or ragged, was also to be sliced 
away, and when the shoe was put on, a portion of the 
crust was to be removed at the heels and quarters. Horses 
with long pasterns were to have these shoes thicker at the 
heels, with a view to give support, and to counteract too 
great a flexure in that part. 

By this method of shoeing, in Mr Goodwin's experi- 
ence, the proportion of lame horses had been considerably 
reduced, and defects and deformities removed. The curve 
or curb at the toe was no disadvantage to draught-horses 
going up-hill ; the ordinary shoe, when in wear for a few 
days, lost its sharp edge, and was then far more likely to slip 
than one with the broad surface of the curved toe. ' Those 
persons who may be averse to the adjusting curve of the 
French shoe will find that the next best shape is a perfect 
plane on the foot side, and the same on the ground side, of 
the width of the nail-holes all round (which should be of 
the French form), and the remaining part of the web or 


width of the shoe should be sloped or bevelled from the 
inside of the nail-heads all round the shoe to the inner 
rim, with the exception of from one to one inch and 
a half of flat bearing on the heels, and the shoe should be 
of an equal thickness from toe to heel.' The bar or 
circular shoe, when properly constructed, Mr Goodwin 
considered of the greatest use ' in affording a greater sur- 
face of defence than any other shoe, which enables us to 
determine the weight of the animal more generally on 
the foot by equalizing the pressure on more bearing 
points than a plain shoe.' Screw shoes are noticed, as 
well as their effects on contracted feet. Their use had been 
recently revived by Mr Jekyl, whose pattern, with a joint 
at the toe and a screw at the heels, was objectionable. 
Sir B. Bloomfield had suggested a shoe with two joints — 
one on each side of the toe : the toe-piece had two nail- 
holes in it, and each branch, furnished with a bar-clip, had 
three nails ; screws acted on the inner side of the branches 
towards the heel. 

Very judicious remarks are made as to nailing shoes 
to the hoofs, and those on the management of the 
horse's feet are commendable ; but it may be noticed 
that his curved-toe shoe was supposed to correspond 
to the natural form of the os pedis, or coliin-bone, 
and in one of his drawings to illustrate this principle he 
figures what is certainly a diseased or abnormal specimen 
of that bone. Perhaps on this diseased specimen he 
founded his imitation of the French shoe. 

The French method was, in his opinion, far superior 
to the English one, and in lauding its merits he forgot to 
notice its defects, which at least equal those of the latter. 


Mr Youatt/ in his in many respects deservedly popular 
treatise on the horse, refers to shoeing ; and as his opinions 
must have had much influence on the practice of the art 
in Britain, if we can form any criterion by the large sale 
of the work, it will be well to give them a brief notice. 
In the anatomy of the foot, he dwells upon its expansive 
properties — especially at the quarters, though he does not 
mention having tested this in any way. Speaking of the 
bars, or inflections of the wall, he writes : * The arch 
which they form on either side, between the frog and the 
quarters, is admirably contrived, both to admit of, and to 
limit to its proper extent, the expansion of the foot.' 
' When the foot is placed on the ground, and the weight of 
the animal is thrown on the little leaves (laminas), we can 
imagine these arches shortening and widening, in order 
to admit of the expansion of the quarters ; and we can 
see the bow returning to its natural curve, and powerfully 
assisting the foot in regaining its usual form.' He pro- 
tests against removing these bars, and the evil results which 
follow their destruction. ' Too many smiths cut them 
perfectly away. They imagine that that gives a more 
open appearance to the heels of the horse, — a seeming 
width which may impose on the unwary. Horses shod 
for the purpose of sale have usually the bars removed 
with this view, and the smiths in the neighbourhood of 
the metropolis and large towns, shoeing for dealers, too 
often habitually pursue, with regard to all their customers, 
the injurious practice of removing the bars. The horny 
frog, deprived of its guard, will speedily contract, and be- 
come elevated and thrushy ; and the whole of the heel, 

' The Horse, London, 1846. 


deprived of the power of resilience or re-action, which the 
curve between the bar and the crust affords, will speedily 
fall in.' 

Then the functions of the frog are enumerated, and 
their description is strangely compounded of truth and error. 
' The foot is seldom put flush and flat upon the ground, but 
in a direction downwards, yet somewhat forwards ; then the 
frog evidently gives safety to the tread of the animal, for it, 
in a manner, ploughs itself into the ground, and prevents 
the horse from slipping. This is of considerable conse- 
quence, when we remember some of the paces of the 
horse, in which his heels evidently come first to the 
ground, and in which the danger from slipping would be 
very great. . . . The frog being placed at and filling the 
hinder part of the foot, discharges a part of the duty sus- 
tained by the crust ; for it supports the weight of the 
animal. It assists, likewise, and that to a material degree, 
in the expansion of the foot. ... It is also composed of a 
substance peculiarly flexible and elastic. What can be so 
well adapted for the expansion of the foot, when a portion 
of the weight of the body is thrown on it ? How easily 
will these irregular surfaces yield and spread out, and how 
readily return again to their natural state ! In this view, 
therefore, the horny frog is a powerful agent in opening 
the foot ; and the diminution of the substance of the frog, 
and its elevation above the ground, are both the cause 
and the consequence of contraction : the cause, as being 
able no longer powerfully to act in expanding the heels ; 
and the consequence, as obeying a law of nature, by which 
that which no longer discharges its natural function is 
gradually removed. It is, however, the cover and defence 


of the internal and sensible frog. . . . We have said enough 
to show the absurdity of the common practice of un- 
sparingly cutting it away. To discharge, in any degree, 
some of the offices which we have assigned to it, and fully 
to discharge even one of them, it must come in occasional 
contact with the ground. In the unshod horse it is con- 
stantly so ; but the additional support give?! hy the shoes^ 
and more especially the hard roads over luhich the horse is 
now compelled to travel, render this complete exposure of 
the frog to the ground not only unnecessary, but injurious. 
Being of so much softer consistence than the rest of the 
foot, it luould be speedily luorn away : occasional pressure, 
however, or contact with the ground, it must have. The 
rough and detached parts should be cut off at each shoe- 
ing, and the substance of the frog itself so as to bring it 
just above or within the level of the shoe. It will then, in 
the descent of the sole, when the weight of the horse is 
thrown upon it in the putting down of the foot, descend 
likewise, and pressing upon the ground, do its duty; 
while it will be defended from the wear, and bruise, and 
injury which it would receive if it came upon the ground 
with the first and full shock of the weight. A few smiths 
carry the notion o^frog pressure to an absurd extent, and 
leave the frog beyond the level of the sole, — a practice 
which is dangerous in the horse of slow draught, and de- 
structive to the hackney or hunter.' 

We can see that Mr Youatt differs widely from La- 
fosse in his opinion of the functions, utility, and manage- 
ment of the frog ; and he evidently writes from very 
superficial observation or hearsay evidence. 

His ideas as to the function of the sole are also stamped 


by inexperience, and the incorrect views of Coleman ap- 
pear to have tainted his teaching, as they damaged his 
practice. The reason that the horse's sole was hollow, 
was because it descended or yielded with the weight of 
the animal. 'Then if the sole be naturally hollow, and 
holloiv because it must descend, the smith must not inter- 
fere with this important action. When the foot will bear 
it, he must pare out sufficient of the horn to preserve the 
proper concavity, a smali portion at the toe and near the 
crust, and cutting deeper towards the centre ; and he must 
put on a shoe, which shall not prevent the descent of the 
sole ; which not only shall not press upon it, but shcdl 
leave siifficient room between it and the sole to admit of this 
descent. If the sole is pressed upon by the coffin-bone, 
by the lengthening of the elastic leaves, and the shoe will 
not permit its descent, the sensible part between the coffin- 
bone and the horn will necessarily be bruised, and inflam- 
mation and lameness will ensue. It is from this cause 
that, if a stone insinuates itself between the shoe and the 
sole, it produces so much lameness.' 

The principles of shoeing enunciated by Mr Youatt 
were entirely founded on the supposed elastic properties of 
certain parts of the foot — expansion at the quarters, flat- 
tening of the frog laterally, and descent of the sole. Grave 
errors certainly, resulting from imperfect study or mal-ap- 
preciation of the anatomy and physiology of the foot ; and 
which were simply destruction to that organ, when these 
principles were applied to it. 

The defence recommended was the ' seated ' shoe of 
Osmer and Moorcroft, which was a vast improvement on 
that still in use, it appears. ' The ground surface of the 


common shoe used in the country is somewhat convex, 
and the inward rim of the shoe comes first on the ground : 
the consequence of this is, that the weight, instead of 
being borne fairly on the crust, is supported by the nails 
and the clenches.' ' Shoeing,' he says, ' has entailed on 
the animal some evils. It has limited or destroyed the 
beautiful expansibilitii of the lower part of the foot ; it has 
led to contraction, although that contraction has not 
always been accompanied by lameness ; in the most 
careful fixing of the best shoe, and in the careless manu- 
facture and setting on of the bad one, much injury has 
often been done to the horse.' The web or cover of the 
seated shoe was to be sufficiently wide to guard the sole 
from bruises, and as wide at the heel as the frog would 
permit, in order to cover the seat of corn. The shoe was 
to be fastened on with nine nails — five on the outside, and 
four on the inner side ; though for small hoofs seven 
might sufhce. The inside part of the foot surface of the 
shoe was to be levelled off, or made concave, so that it 
might not press upon the sole. ' Notwithstanding our 
iron fetter, the sole does, although to a very inconsider- 
able extent, descend when the foot of the horse is put on 
the ground. It is unable to bear constant or even occa- 
sional pressure, and if it came in contact with the shoe, 
the sensible sole, between the horny sole and the coffin- 
bone, would be bruised, and lameness would ensue. Many 
of our horses, from too early and undue work, have the 
natural concave sole flattened, and the disposition to de- 
scend and the degree of descent are thereby increased.' 
' The web of the shoe is likewise of that thickness, that when 
the foot is properly pared, the prominent part of the frog 


shall lie just within and above its ground surface, so that 
in the descent of the sole the frog shall come sufficiently 
on the ground to enable it to act as a wedge, and to ex- 
pand the quarters, while it is defended from the wear and 
injury it would receive if it came to the ground with the 
first and full shock of the weight.' 

With respect to paring the hoof, Youatt commits the 
most dangerous blunders to be found in his work. Admit- 
ting that no specific rules could be laid down, he adds : 
' This, however, we can say with confidence, that more in- 
jury has been done by the neglect of paring than by carry- 
ing it to too great an extent. The act of paring is a work of 
much more labour than the proprietor of the horse often 
imagines ; the smith, except he be overlooked, will give 
himself as little trouble about it as he can ; and that 
which, in the unshod foot, would be worn away by con- 
tact with the ground, is suffered to accumulate month 
after month, until the elastic! ti/ of the sole is destroyed, and 
it can no longer descend, and the functions of the foot are 
impeded, and foundation is laid for corn, and contraction, 
and navicular disease, and inflammation. 

'That portion of horn should be left on the sole, 
which will defend the internal parts from being bruised, 
and yet suffer the external sole to descend. How is 
this to be measured ? The strong pressure of the thumb 
of the smith will be the best guide. The buttress, that 
most destructive of all instruments, being banished from 
the respectable forge, the smith sets to work with his 
drawing-knife, and he removes the growth of horn, until 
the sole will yield, although in the slightest possible degree, 
to the very strong pressure of his thumb. The proper thick- 


ness of horn will then remain. If the foot has been pre- 
viously neglected, and the horn is become very hard, the 
owner must not object if the smith resorts to some means 
to soften it a little ; and if he takes one of his fat irons, 
and having heated it, draius it over the sole, and keeps it a 
little ivliile in contact ivith it. When the sole is thick, 
this rude and apparently barbarous method can do no 
harm, but it should never be permitted with the sole that 
is regularly pared out. 

' The quantity of horn to be removed in order to leave 
the proper degree of thickness will vary with different feet. 
From the strong foot a great deal must be taken. From 
the concave foot the horn may be removed until the sole 
will yield to a moderate pressure. From the flat foot little 
need be pared ; while the pumiced foot will spare nothing 
but the ragged parts. The paring being nearly com- 
pleted, the knife and the rasp of the smith must be a little 
watched, or he will reduce the crust to a level ivith the sole, 
and thus endanger the bruising of the sole by its pressure 
on the edge of the seating. The crust should be reduced 
to a perfect level all round, but left a little higher than 
the sole.' The horn between the crust and the bar 
must be carefully pared out, in order to remedy or to give 
the animal temporary relief from corns, and the frog was 
to be diminished to a proper degree. More depended 
upon the paring out of the foot, according to Mr Youatt, 
than on the construction of the shoe ; that few shoes, ex- 
cept they press upon the sole, or are made outrageously 
bad, will lame the horse ; but that he may be very easily 
lamed from ignorant and improper paring of the feet. 

Nothing could be more erroneous than this author's 


views with regard to the elasticity of the foot, and nothing 
could be more destructive to that organ than the adop- 
tion of the rules he lays down for its management. To 
carry them out was simply to produce the diseases he 
attributes to other causes ; and it is difficult to understand 
how Mr Youatt, who was in many respects an intelligent 
veterinarian, should so far commit himself to the emission 
of opinions which a little investigation would have shov^ai 
to be without the slightest foundation. His directions, 
appearing as they did in a work of a popular character, 
and which was to be found on nearly every horse-owner's 
book-shelf, must have done an incalculable amount of 
injury, and which could scarcely be compensated for by 
the correctness of other details he gives on the matter of 

For more than fifty years, and even up to the present 
day, the elasticity, or lateral-expansion and sols-descent 
mania, may be said to have proved the curse of horse- 
flesh, and the bete noire of farriery. The hoof was mu- 
tilated in every possible manner to favour this all but 
undemonstrable idea ; and the purblind individuals who 
resorted to these practices evidently could not see the 
damage they were inflicting, and which became all the 
more serious the more exaggerated their expansion theory 
was developed. Nearly all the ills the horse's foot was 
liable to, it was believed, were due to the restraint the un- 
yielding shoe imposed upon the lower border of the hoof, 
as well as the constriction caused by the nails. To rem.edy 
these every imaginable device was tried ; but nearly all 
of them were as unreasonable as they were unfruitful. 
Such had been the wonderful productions of Coleman 


and Bracy Clark : frog-pressure shoes, shoes with one or 
more joints, shoes in segments attached to a leather sole, 
shoes entirely of leather, shoes without nails to fasten on 
the foot like a sandal, and shoes in halves, as if for the 
cloven foot of an ox. In fact, the ingenuity of man 
appears to have been racked to accommodate this alter- 
nate opening and closing of the heels, and the ascent and 
descent of the sole ; all the while the lower face of the 
hoof was robbed of its protection, and consequently made 
to undergo these very changes attributed to the iron plate 
and nails. The amount of torture inflicted by these well- 
meaning, but mistaken men has been immense — the loss 

One of the many modes of promoting expansion pro- 
posed and practised many years ago, was that of Mr 
Turner, and which was designated ' unilateral,' because of 
the nails being limited to the outside and toe of the shoe, 
leaving the inside to expand and contract ad libitum. It 
was but the revival of a method practised centuries ago 
in certain cases, in this country and in France, where it 
was known as \\\c forrure a la Turque. For a time this 
new fashion had a tolerable run, but somehow it soon 
began to decline, as the maladies it was intended to pre- 
vent were as prevalent as ever, the sole and frog-paring 
being still in a flourishing condition. 

It would serve no useful purpose to enumerate all the 
books that have been written in England in this century 
on the subject of farriery, or to describe all the diflferent 
shoes and diflferent methods invented, reinvented, and 
borrowed without acknowledgment. Machine-made shoes 
of various patterns have been largely tried, and have 


invariably failed after a short time. No general form of 
shoe will suit every horse — no general arrangement of the 
nail-holes will suffice for every foot ; and these quickly 
and cheaply-made articles, in addition to the many defects 
which machine-made shoes will always have, possess 
one which is perhaps the most serious of all — the softness 
of the iron. This is so great, that the horse must either 
carry a most clumsy and injurious mass of material of 
the consistency of lead, or be shod far more frequently 
than the soundness of his feet will permit. Malleable 
cast-iron shoes, capable of sustaining a low temperature 
in order to alter them to suit different feet, have also been 
patented and tried with no better success than the ma- 
chine-made shoes. Unlike them, however, they proved 
too hard ; and if they escaped the dangers of a tempera- 
ture which could scarcely be designated a red-heat, or of 
a few gentle taps of the hammer, and were nailed to the 
hoof without flying about in a number of pieces, they 
either smashed when brought into contact with the pave- 
ment, or proved so slippery that many horses were injured 
by falls with them. 

Before concluding our history of the art of shoeing in 
England, it will, perhaps, be instructive to refer to two 
works, one of which has had a large sale and has passed 
through many editions, having been translated into one 
or two foreign languages ; the other being the more 
valuable of the two, though apparently not so well known. 

The first of these, by Mr Miles,' is what might be 

' The Horse's Foot, and How to Keep it Sound. Eighth edition. 
London, 1856. Also, A Plain Treatise on Horse-shoeing. 3rd edition. 


termed a re-introduction of Mr Turner's ' unilateral ' shoe, 
modified by Bourgelat's and Goodwin s bent-up or curvxd 
toe. The method of shoeing and the shoe itself is founded 
entirely, like that of Mr Youatt's, on the theory of the lateral 
expansion of the foot and the descent of the sole. 

The horny crust, according to Mr Miles, is ' elastic 
throughout its whole extent, and yielding to the weight of 
the horse, allows the horny sole to descend, whereby much 
inconvenient concussion to the internal parts of the foot is 
avoided ; but if a large portion of the circumference of 
the foot be fettered by iron and nails, it is obvious that 
that portion at least cannot expand as before ; and the 
beautiful and efficient apparatus for effecting this neces- 
sary elasticity being no longer allowed to act by reason of 
these restraints, becomes altered in structure ; and the con- 
tinued operation of the same causes in the end circum- 
scribes the elasticity to those parts alone where no nails 
have been driven ; giving rise to a train of consequences 
destructive to the soundness of the foot, and fatal to the 
usefulness of the horse.' Serious anatomical and physio- 
logical mistakes occur in this section of this work, and 
nothing is said as to the function of the frog. The sole 
is made to ascend and descend as the weight was applied 
to or removed from it. ' This descending property of 
the sole calls for our especial consideration in directing 
the form of the shoe ; for if the shoe be so formed that 
the horny sole rests upon it, it cannot descend lower, and 
the sensible sole above, becoming squeezed between the 
edges of the coffin-bone and the horn, causes inflamma- 
tion, and perhaps abscess. The effect of this squeezing 
of the sensible sole is most commonly witnessed at the 



angle of the inner heel, where the descending heel of the 
coffin-bone, forcibly pressing the vascular sole upon the 
horny sole, ruptures a small blood-vessel, and produces 
what is called a corn.' It is, however, in his remarks 
on paring of the horse's foot that his erroneous views of 
its physiology are shown, and his directions for the per- 
formance of that operation are marked by a singular 
absence of reasoning, unless it be that which was founded 
on the descending properties of the sole. 

As this work has, perhaps, passed through as many 
editions as Mr Youatt's, and as it treats entirely of shoeing, 
claiming for itself the teaching of ' how to keep the foot 
sound,' we have every inducement to inquire into his prac- 
tice ; influencing, as it must have done, the art of farriery in 
this country to a very considerable extent. We shall then 
be able to pronounce how far the usual abuses had been 
mitigated and the art improved ; though it will be apparent 
that his principles are those laid down by Youatt. ' The 
operation of paring out the foot is a matter requiring both 
skill and judgment, and is, moreover, a work of some 
labour when properly performed. It will be found that 
the operator errs much oftener by removing too little than 
too much ; at least it is so with parts that ought to 
be removed, which are sometimes almost as hard and 
unyielding as a flint-stone, and in their most favour- 
able state require considerable exertion to cut through. 
The frog, on the other hand, offers so little resistance 
to the knife, and presents such an even, smooth, clean- 
looking surface when cut through, that it requires more 
philosophy than falls to the share of most smiths to 
resist the temptation to slice it away, despite a know- 


ledge that it would be far wiser to leave it alone. It 
would be impossible to frame any rule applicable to 
the paring out of all horses' feet, or indeed to the feet 
of the same horse at all times. For instance, it is mani- 
festly unwise to pare the sole as thin in a hot dry season, 
when the roads are broken up and strewed with loose 
stones, as in a moderately wet one, when they are well 
bound and even ; for, in the former case, the sole is in 
perpetual danger of being bruised by violent contact with 
the loose stones, and consequently needs a thick layer of 
horn for its protection ; while the latter case offers the 
most favourable surface that most of our horses ever 
have to travel upon, and should be taken advantage of 
for a thorough paring out of the sole, in order that the 
internal parts of the foot may derive the full benefit 
arising from an elastic and descending sole, a state of 
things very essential to the due performance of their 
separate functions. Again, horses with upright feet and 
high heels grow horn very abundantly, especially towards 
the toe, and are always benefited by having the toe 
shortened, the heels lowered, and the sole well pared out; 
while horses with flat feet and low heels grow horn 

sparingly In the first case the thickness of the 

sole prevents the due descent of the coflin-bone when the 
horse's weight is thrown upon the foot, and it requires in 
consequence to be pared down thinner and rendered more 
yielding ; while in the latter case it is already so thin and 
unresisting, that it can with difficulty support the coffin- 
bone in its proper place, and ofiers at best but a feeble 
resistance to its downward tendency.' 

Here we have this writer recommending that sound 


beautiful feet should be reduced to the same morbid 
state as those which had been ruined — though he did not 
suspect so — by paring, and could ' barely support the 
coffin-bone in its proper place, and offers at best but a 
feeble resistance to its downward tendency/ ' Perfect feet, 
or indeed tolerably well-formed feet, with a fair growth of 
horn, should have the toe shortened, the heels lowered, and 
the .sole ivell pared out ; that is, all the dead horn removed, 
and, if need be, some of the living too, until it tuill yield in 
some small degree to hard pressure from the tJmmb. The 
corners, formed by the junction of the crust and bars, should 
be ivell pared out, particularly on the inside, for this is the 
common seat of corn ; and any accumulation of horn in 
this situation must increase the risk of bruising the sensible 
sole between the inner point or heel of the coffin-bone and 
the horny sole! A most extraordinary statement, certainly. 
We are told that horn protected the feet at one season of 
the year, but was not needed at another. We are now 
informed that an accumulation of horn at the corners of 
the heels would bruise them, and that therefore these 
corners must be well denuded of their protection. 

Beside this damaging treatment of the foot, the bars 
were to be removed to a level with the sole. The single 
feature in this portion of his subject that redeemed it from 
the ordinary barbarous treatment of the farrier, was his 
earnest desire that the frog might remain untouched ; and 
this is the only good that commends itself in his work, 
unless it be the diminution of the number of nails required 
to attach the shoe. 

We have seen that he deprives the sole of its natural 
protection in the most unreasonable manner, merely be- 


cause he imagined that it descended towards the shoe to 
a serious degree. The weight of the shoe was of little 
importance. ' The inconvenience to a horse of an ounce 
or so of increased weight in each shoe is not worth a mo- 
ment's consideration, compared with the discomfort to 
him of travelling upon a hard road with a bent shoe on 
his foot, straining the nails, and maki^'g unequal and pain- 
ful pressure ; the other evil arising out of light shoes is a 
deficiency of width in the web, ivhich robs the foot of much 
valuable protection, and leaves the sole and frog exposed to 
numberless injuries, that a under web ivould effectually 
prevent^. For his own horses, he took 'special care that 
the same width of web is continued throughout the whole 
shoe back to the heels, g/L'z/zo- increased covering and pro- 
tection to the sole of the foot! He points out readily 
enough, the great danger there is in a horse injuring his 
foot and dropping suddenly lame on putting it upon a 
stone, and speaks of it as unphilosophical in not covering 
nearly the whole of that surface with a very wide-webbed 

After this mutilation of the sole, it is asserted that the 
situation of the nails determines the form of the foot. 
The shoe was the ordinary seated one of Osmer and 
Moorcroft, bent up at the toe in the form of a worn 
shoe, or on Goodwin's principle ; it was to be of the same 
thickness from one extremity to the other, and to have a 
good flat even space all round for the crust to bear upon, 
' for it must be remembered the crust sustains the whole 
weight of the horse.' The ground surface was to be 
fullered for the reception of the nails, which were to be 
as few as possible — fiv^e or six : three or four on the out- 


side, and two or three on the inside ; the latter near the 
toe, according to Mr Turner's method. 

Indeed, for many years this gentleman's own horses 
were only shod with three nails in each fore-shoe (of which 
alone I am now speaking). This was certainly a great 
improvement on the absurd fashion of studding the shoes 
all round with nails ; and so long as the armature could be 
retained with safety, there was no reason why more than 
three, four, or five should be used. If Mr Miles could 
retain a heavy shoe with a wide cover, unsupported by the 
sole, which we have seen was removed altogether from it 
by paring, in addition to the bevelling of the iron, surely 
a light shoe resting on an unpared sole, in addition to the 
crust, would be still easier retained ! The great secret of 
this retention of the shoe in Mr Miles's application of the 
one-sided nailing, lay in the excellent and careful method 
he adopted of fitting it accurately to the foot. The 
iron had a perfectly level and solid bearing on the crust, 
and this was accomplished without much trouble. An- 
other curious circumstance to be remarked in his teaching 
is, that though he believed in the expansion of the heels 
to a very exaggerated degree, the shoe when fitted was to 
follow as closely as possible, and not project in the slightest 
degree beyond, the crust in this region. Consequently, it 
must have happened, that when the foot was put on the 
ground, and the asserted expansion took place, the hoof 
must have hung over the shoe to the amount of that 
dilatation, without receiving any support from it I 

It was always a favourite theme with people who did 
not understand much about shoeing, or the nature of the 
horse's foot, to dwell upon the injury done to the hoof by 


fitting a hot shoe to it, in order to adapt the armature more 
accurately to the surface on which it was afterwards to be 
nailed ; and some of these people would nevertheless in- 
jure the hoof in a very serious manner in other respects, 
to suit their own particular crotchets, which were probably 
as meaningless as they were injurious. For a great num- 
ber of years, this declamation had been stoutly maintained 
by sundry individuals, some of whom perhaps had good 
reason to do so, seeing the injurious manner in which the 
feet were pared, and the likelihood that a careless work- 
man would reach the sensitive parts through the thin 
pellicle of horn remaining with his hot shoe ; but these 
accidents must have been very rare, and were no doubt 
least to be dreaded of any incidental to shoeing as it was 
usually practised. Mr Miles notices this fear of hot fit- 
ting : 'The danger apprehended from the shoe being 
applied to the foot so hot as to burn the crust and cause 
it to smoke, is utterly groundless. I would not have it 
made to burn itself into its place upon the foot without 
the assistance of rasp or drawing-knife, but I would have 
it tried to the foot sufficiently hot to scorch every part 
that bears unevenly upon it, because the advantage of 
detecting such projecting portions is very great, and this 
mode of accomplishing it is positively harmless ; indeed 
it is the only one by which the even bearing necessary to 
a perfect fitting of the shoe can be insured.' 

Some amusing stories are told of nervous old gentle- 
men, who were not only not satisfied with having their 
horses shod in their stables, but actually had the shoes 
immersed for a certain period in the coldest water pro- 
curable, in order to dispel the latent heat. So it had become 


somewhat fashionable to shoe horses in stables, and Mr 
Miles says of it : ' The practice of shoeing horses in 
the stable, away from the forge, where there is no possi- 
bility of correcting any defect in the fitting of the shoe, is 
so utterly opposed to reason and common sense, that I 
should only have adverted to it as a custom of by-gone 
days, exploded with the use of the buttress and the notion 
of chest founder, if I had not actually witnessed its per- 
petration within the last year, and that, too, in the stables 
of gentlemen by no means addicted, upon other matters, 
to yield their judgment a ready captive to other men's 
prejudices. Now if either of these gentlemen had hap- 
pened to ask the smith what he was doing, the answer 
would, in all probability, have awakened him to a sudden 
conviction that he was giving his countenance to a most 
unphilosophical proceeding ; for the smith would have 
told him that he wa.s Jitting a shoe to the horse sjbot, which 
the gentleman would at once perceive to be impossible, in- 
asmuch as he had no means at hand whereby to effect the 
smallest change in the form of the shoe, however much it 
might require it ; and the truth would instantly force 
itself upon him, that the man was fitting the J<jot to the 
shoe, and not, as he supposed, the shoe to the Jbot. To 
fit the shoe to the foot without the aid of anvil and forge 
is impossible ; and any one acquainted with the exactness 
and precision necessary to a perfect fitting would not 
hesitate to declare the attempt to be as absurd as it is 
mischievous.' Some excellent examples are given of the 
injury and inconvenience likely to arise from this stupid 

In this accuracy of fitting the shoe by burning it to 


the hoof, lay the secret of dispensing with so many nails ; 
and this was a veritable progress in the art of farriery, for 
which Mr Miles deserves every credit. His great error 
lay, as we have seen, in cutting away the sole, through a 
false idea that it descended, and in applying heavy, 
clumsy shoes. The improvement could not make 
amends for the mistakes. 

The hind-shoes had no calkins, properly so called, 
but only long thick projections from the ground surface — 
a mere elongated form of calkin. They were not side- 
clipped at the toe for hunting ; rather, a mistake, as a 
hind-shoe secured in this way is much safer for horse and 
rider than one with a single clip at the middle of the toe. 
They had usually two or three nails more than the fore- 

Through a defective knowledge of the anatomy of 
the hind-foot, the shoe was nailed on in the same manner 
as in the fore one — the inside nails being all clustered to- 
gether near the toe on the unilateral system, to allow the 
hoof to expand. This was undoubtedly a mistake, as 
every farrier knows that the hind-hoof differs from the 
fore one in being thickest towards the heels of the crust, 
and thinnest anteriorly, and that the least injurious and 
most secure nailing is always found at the former part. 
This mistake may have caused the failure of his method 
of shoeing in Algeria.' 

The composite method of shoeing devised, or rather 
made somewhat popular, by Mr Miles, was chiefly, as may 
be perceived, founded on the fantastic lateral-expansion 

' Merche. Mcmuire sur les Principaux Systemcs de Ferrure. 
Paris, 1862. 


theory of Bracy Clark, whose ideas of the functions of the 
horse's foot became at last so exaggerated, that he could not 
devise any mode of shoeing that would not inflict injury on 
that organ. The treatise we have just noticed cannot, 
therefore, be said to afford us any signs of improvement 
in the art of shoeing, except in the matter of reducing 
the number of nails ; and is chiefly composed of materials 
derived from various sources, some of them not very 

It is a pleasure in turning to the next work, written 
by Colonel Fitzwygram,' to find a more rational and 
common-sense method of managing the foot and shoeing 
it. This treatise, founded as it is on the long experience 
and enlightened observation of Army Veterinary Surgeon 
Hallen, is perhaps the best on shoeing which this century 
has produced. It reminds one very much of Lafosse's mas- 
ter-piece, and indeed it only repeats the truths that able 
veterinarian first promulgated with regard to the propriety 
and method of maintaining the horse's foot in a sound 
condition. The leading principle is the entire conserva- 
tion of sole and frog, which are not to be foolishly tam- 
pered with, and the maintenance of the wall or crust in all 
its integrity. The shoe recommended is that proposed by 
Mr Goodwin, with the single exception, perhaps, that in- 
stead of the upper surface following the concavity of the 
sole, it was to be flat. The ground surface, with the bent- 
up toe, was the same. This treatise, which, so far as the 
management of the foot is concerned, is calculated to do 
much good, is yet somewhat marred by an error that, 
though apparently unimportant, yet in reality is not so. 

' Notes on Shoeing Horses. 2ncl edition, 1863. 


Speaking of the admirable arrangement of the crust-fibres 
for sustaining the weight by their ahnost perpendicular di- 
rection, he adds : ' In the sole, on the other hand, all these 
conditions favourable for sustaining weight are wanting. 
The fibres are much less substantial than those of the crust, 
they are not so closely connected together, and, lastly, thcT/ 
are placed in layers in a horizontal position. The sole, 
therefore, from its construction, is unable to sustain iveight 

or pressure Whilst the structure of the crust is in 

fibres, standing with their ends on the ground, the struc- 
ture of the sole consists of fibres placed in layers hori- 
zontally. The difference in power of sustaining weight, 
which arises from this difference in the position of the 
fibres, will be easily seen. Anything standing perpen- 
dicularly will sustain a much greater weight without 
yielding, than it will if placed horizontally. . . Whilst, 
then, from its construction it is evident that the insensitive 
sole is not intended to bear weight, it is also most im- 
portant, on account of its position, that no undue weight 
should be put upon it. . . . The fibres of the insensitive 
sole mav be compared to layers of fibres of hay, placed 
horizontally. These will necessarily crush in under a com- 
paratively light weight, for neither by their position nor by 
substance are they calculated to sustain weight or pressure.' 
This is quite a mjistake ; and is founded on a miscon- 
ception of the anatomical structure of this part, which 
was first promulgated by Girard. The horn-fibres of the 
sole are secreted, and grow in exactly the same direction 
as those of the crust, and are capable of sustaining a con- 
siderable share of the animal's weight, as well as contact with 
the ground. This is a fact worthy of bearing in mind ; as 


with a mode of shoeing I have adopted, as well as in the 
French method of Lafosse, and a modification of it which 
will be noticed presently, the sole does support more or less 
of the strain and wear, and not only with impunity, but to 
the advantage of foot and limb. The horse's sole, in com- 
mon with that of every quadruped, was destined by nature 
to sustain more or less weight and wear, and if it is not 
cruelly deprived of what nature has wisely given it for 
that purpose, it will do so perfectly. 

Colonel Fitzwygram's method of shoeing does not 
appear to have gained much ground. The difficulties in 
rounding or curving-up the toe of the shoe to a proper 
degree, and the objection of farriers and grooms to allow 
the foot to remain in a healthy unmutilated state, will, it 
is to be feared, operate, more or less, against its adoption. 

The treatise, however, should be in the hands of every 
horseman, not only because of the excellent advice it con- 
tains relative to the preservation and defence of the foot, 
but also for the clear and philosophical discussion of the 
various predisposing causes of disease in that organ. 
Miles's method of nailing, and Colonel Fitzwygram's di- 
rections for maintaining the sole and frog intact, mark, 
perhaps, the greatest improvements in shoeing in England 
during this century. 

In 1862, Mr Mavor, a veterinary surgeon in London, 
patented a form of shoe and method of shoeing intended to 
serve several useful and important purposes. The shoe was 
made of iron rolled by machinery into a particular shape ; 
so that when formed it appeared as a narrow, though some- 
what thick rim of metal, slightly concave towards the 
ground, the lower margin being thin ; while the foot-surface 


was flat, and the holes were made in the middle line of the 
shoe. According to Mr Mavor, the advantages of his 
mode of shoeing were cheapness, lightness, and simplicity 
of manufacture. As a proof that it was superior to every 
other mode, this inventor asserted that it did not in any 
way injure the horse's foot, but, on the contrary, allowed 
its natural freedom of action ; promoted the growth of 
horn ; prevented disease and concussion to the limbs ; gave 
the horse a firm foot-hold on the most slippery pavement ; 
was particularly adapted to strengthen flat, weak feet ; and 
enabled the horse to travel over loose gravel without 
injury to, or the collection of dirt and stones in, his feet. 
The hind-shoes were of such a form that, though light, 
they were more durable than the old flat shoes ; and it 
was impossible for the horse to cut his legs, over-reach, or 
click with them. 

In preparing the shoe, little hammering was required ; 
the nail-holes were punched in the centre, and inclining 
inwards ; the iron being only the width of the crust of the 
foot, there was no danger of these apertures proving too 
coarse for nailing. In applying the shoe, the crust and bars 
were to be lowered and levelled from the ground-surface 
only, as rasping the outside of the crust and cutting away 
the sides of the frog weakened the foot and destroyed 
its naturally circular form. The sole was not to be cut, 
and care was to be taken to fit the shoe accurately to the 
outer line of the hoof, so that it might rest only upon 
the crust, and not upon the sole. 

This method of shoeing was carried on for a short 
time, and fell into disuse, chiefly, perhaps, through the 
prejudice of the grooms and farriers in London. 




In France, where veterinary science has flourished, 
and has been productive of most beneficial results, many 
excellent works on farriery have appeared during the cen- 
tury. Chief among them may be mentioned those of 
Girard,' Gohier,^ Jauze,^ Bouley,'' Rey,^ Merche,^ Meg- 

' Traite du Pied. Paris, 1813. 

* Tableau Synoptique. Lyons, 1820. 

■' Cours de Marechalerie Veterinaire. Paris, 1827. 

* Traite de I'Organisation du Pied du Cheval. Paris, 185 1. Also 
the article ' Ferrure,' in the Nouveau Dictionnaire Pratique, etc., Vete- 
rinaires. Paris, 1858. 

5 Traite de Marechalerie Veterinaire. Lyons, i8_52. 

* Memoire sur les Principaux"Systeiiies de Ferrure. Paris, 1862. 


nin/ and Goyau;^ and for Belgium those of Defays,^ 
With an intimate knowledge of the structure and organ- 
ization of the horse's foot, the majority of these writers 
attempt to establish the practice of shoeing on a really 
scientific basis ; and to make it not only subservient to 
the defence of healthy organs, but also to remedy their 
diseases and defects. In all these works we can trace a 
gradual admission of, or approach to, the opinions held 
by Lafosse with respect to the preservation of the horse's 
hoof, by abstaining from mutilating it. 

I regret I cannot give anything like a just idea of 
these writings in the limits I have allowed myself; but as 
they are comparatively recent, they are easily accessible to 
the inquirer who is anxious to learn more of the subject 
than I have attempted to sketch. 

The curved or ' rocking ' shoe of Bourgelat, so ob- 
jectionable because the horse's foot shod with it had no level 
or firm base to support the weight of the limb and body, 
was in general use in France up to a late period ; and 
though Gohier had diminished the excessive toe and heel 
curvature, we find Jauze still recommending it, and, more 
or less modified, it has continued in use to the present day. 

' Ferrure du Cheval. Paris, 1865. La Mareclialerie Fran9aise. 
Paris, 1867. The French Government has always manifested the great- 
est anxiety to advance veterinary science, as it has now for many years 
found the national interest to be deeply concerned in its progress. The 
subject of farriery has, therefore, not been neglected ; and we observe 
that the Minister for War has marked his appreciation of the value of 
this, and the clever little monograph by M. Merche, by bestowing on 
each of the authors a gold medal. 

" Ferrure du Cheval, Paris, 1869. 

3 Les Ferrures Pathologiques. Brussels, 1866. Mem. sur I'En- 
castelure. Notice sur une Nouvelle Ferrure a Glace, etc. 


In M. Bouley's writings we find excellent principles 
laid down with regard to shoeing, though he recommends 
a certain amount of paring of the sole. M. Goyaus 
little treatise is, perhaps, the best practical work on shoe- 
ing that has appeared in France; while M. Megnins is 
remarkable for the great research and ability displayed in 
investigating the history of French farriery. 

In 1840, M. Riquet, a veterinary surgeon of some 
repute, introduced what he termed a ' podometrical ' 
method of shoeing.' We have already casually intimated 
that, from the time when the improvement of fitting 
shoes hot to the hoofs was introduced, a few amateurs and 
professional men fancied that injury was done to the 
horse's foot. In rare cases this was the case, no doubt ; 
for the custom of paring the sole almost to the quick was 
so prevalent, that we cannot wonder if a careless workman 
did now and again retain the hot shoe long enough 
against the lower margin of the crust, to permit the bor- 
der of the sensitive sole to suffer from the high tem- 
perature in its vicinity. These accidents, however, appear 
to have been remarkably unfrequent, if we may judge 
from their being so seldom alluded to. 

The idea prevailed to some extent, nevertheless, that 
hot fitting was hurtful, and it was to guard against its 
effects that the foot-measure shoeing was introduced. The 
instrument contrived to note the dimensions of the foot was 
ingenious, though defective, and the system altogether was 
so well conceived that it attained a large amount of popu- 
larity in a short time. The size, though not the shape, of 

' De la Ferrure Podometrique. Tours, 1840. 


the horse's feet being accurately ascertained by means of 
the podometer, this was entered in a register, so that the 
shoes could be made in the forge, and the animal shod 
with them without being required to leave his stable. 

The idea appeared to be excellent, and was at first 
willingly, if not gladly, received by the veterinary profes- 
sion in France, where it was extensively tested. M. 
Riquet had so highly exaggerated the risks and injurious 
effects of applying the hot shoe to the hoof, and so vaunted 
the advantages to be derived from his podometricye/vz^re 
a froid, that a large number of cavalry officers became 
temporary converts, and indeed unreasonable enthusiasts. 
Even the French Minister of War did not escape the 
contagion, and on the 30th August, 1845, issued an order 
that ' in all mounted corps the cold method of fitting was 
to be immediately substituted for the hot.' This was no 
proof in favour of the invention, but rather a testimony 
to the plausible statements and peculiar tact of M. 

Of course the matter was soon tested ; though it was 
some time before it was finally decided. ' At the Cavalry 
School of Saum.ur,' writes M. Barthelemy,' ' experiments 
have been made from the 22nd September, 1841, to the 
5th October, 1844. During these three years all the 
near-side horses of the school have been shod by the 
cold, and the ofF-side ones by the hot method. In 
that space of time, out of 22,579 shoes which had been 
fitted in a cold state, 386 were lost, detached, or broken, 
and only 123 out of the same number fitted while hot; 
that is, in the first case, i shoe in 58 was detached, while 

' Bullelin de la Soc. Veterinaire, 1846. 


in the second there was only i in 183, This enormous 
difference would have been still greater, if the hot fitting 
had been practised in the ordinary manner. But the 
School was then labouring under an impression of 
dangers which I might almost term chimerical, from 
burning the sole, and which the theory of podometric 
shoeing had developed. So that an order was given to 
the farriers to apply the hot shoe lightly, and immediately 
remove all that portion of the horn which had been in 
contact with it ; this was almost a return to cold fitting. 
The order was punctually executed, under the uninter- 
rupted superintendence of the acting brigadier.' 

This evidence is in perfect harmony with that furn- 
ished at a later period by Colonel Ambert ' of the 
Saumur School, who was at first a zealous partisan of 
Riquet's system. ' Out of 650 horses, the effective strength 
of a regiment, during every month from ^^ to 60 lost 
their shoes in marching or manoeuvering, since the em- 
ployment of cold fitting ; or, in other terms, the regiment 
has not marched for an hour without losing a shoe. 
With the system of hot-fitting, the same regiment lost 
only one shoe in a journey of eight stages.' After an 
extensive experience, this observer arrives at the follow- 
ing conclusions : 

' I. The hot fitting is not attended by any danger or 
inconvenience when properly practised (that is, on hoofs 
the soles of which are pared). 

' 2. The solidity of hot shoeing (or fitting) being 
greater than that of cold, the workman having more 

' De la Ferrure des Chevaux. Journal cle Med. Vet., p. 246. 


facility for the former than the latter, and also owing to its 
requiring less time, we are of opinion that in the army, 
as everywhere else, the preference must be given to the 
ferrure a chaud.^ 

Lafosse, Bourgelat, Chabert, Gohier, Rainard, Reynal, 
Delafond, Renault, Bouley, and Rey — in fact, all the 
most distinguished veterinary professors or practitioners 
who have studied the subject — have unhesitatingly given 
the preference to the mode of fitting the shoe while hot. 

The Central Society of Veterinary Medicine of France, 
composed certainly of men most competent to judge, 
after discussing this question in 1846, came to the follow- 
ing conclusions, which were accepted unanimously by 
the profession : — 

' I. T\\Q ferrure a chaud is undoubtedly superior to 
X.\iQ ferrure afraid, executed in the manner recommended 
and practised at this time, in that it always allows the 
workman to make the shoe to fit the foot — a fundamental 
rule in good farriery, and an immense advantage that 
\.\\Q ferrure afraid does not offer. 

' 2. The cold shoeing, as now practised, at the same 
time that it is generally more difficult and requires a 
longer time, is for this reason more expensive, while it is 
generally less solid and less durable. 

'3. Nevertheless, skilfully practised by an able work- 
man, cold shoeing may be resorted to without much 
danger, and even with benefit, in some exceptional 

' 4. The inconveniences attributed to the hot shoeing 

are also applicable to the cold method, excepting always 

burning the sole. 

36 * 


'5. That this very rare accident never produces the 
bad effects attributed to it. 

' 6. Consequently there does not now exist any 
plausible or valid reason for substituting cold for hot 

' 7. Lastly, the advantages attributed to podometric 
shoeing, especially that which allows the preparation of 
the shoes without the horses being present, and applying 
them away from the forge, are not sufficiently demon- 
strated ; and in any case, if they were, they could not 
compensate for the inconveniences inherent in this pro- 
cedure.' ' 

And one of the highest authorities on shoeing. Pro- 
fessor Key,^ of Lyons, thus sums up the advantages and 
disadvantages of both methods : — 

'Advantages of cold-shoeing. — -Cold shoeing does not 
expose the horse to the danger of having his feet burned. 
It may be executed either in the stable or in the middle 
of the highway. It evades the necessity of taking the 
horse to the forge to be shod, and where the flame of 
the fire might frighten it. This is an argument of little 
value, as, with scarcely an exception, horses are not afraid 
of the forge. Cold shoeing is preferable for weak, flat, 
or foundered feet, with thin soles. This is, in our opinion, 
the only real advantage. 

'Inconveniences of cold shoeing. — The greatest defect 
in cold shoeing consists in its want of solidity. When 
we fit a shoe cold the horn is hard and resists every blow 
of the hammer, while, by the action of heat, it is a little 

' Recueil de Medecine Veterinaire, p. 476. 1846. 
" Traite de Maiechalerie, p. 196. 


softened, and permits a more exact adaptation. It is less 
solid, particularly in wet weather. When the atmospheric 
temperature, however, is less inconstant, its durability is 
greater. This phenomenon is not observed with hot 
shoeing (Reynal). The authors who wrote at the period 
when cold shoeing only was known, notice its want of 
solidity. Caesar Fiaschi thus expresses himself in the 
middle of the i6th century: ' Je ne vois d'autre remede, 
eu egard au peu de solidite de cette ferrure, que de savoir 
soi-meme brocher les clous ou de se faire suivre par un 

' In campaigns, cold shoeing offers less resistance to 
the deteriorating action of humidity, mud, and bad roads. 
The veterinary surgeons who accompanied the expedition 
to Rome, in 1849, have described the inconvenience of 
cold shoeing in time of war, in connection with its de- 
fective solidity, and the difficulty in adopting it. . . . 
This system of shoeing always necessitates making the foot 
to fit the shoe. It is difficult of application in cases where 
regiments are on the march, if the farriers are obliged to 
seek for the horses in their billets. It takes a longer time, 
and is not so easy. Its duration is less among town's- 
horses which run on paved roads, as they wear out their 
shoes in less than from 15 to 20 days. 

' After this shoeing the horn is more brittle, and shoes 
are more frequently lost. Lastly, cold shoeing is less 

' Advantages of Jiot sfioeing. In hot shoeing, the shoe 
is more readily adapted to the foot. 

' The shoes which have been fitted hot to the hoofs are 
applied more equally. The shoeing is more solid, because 


the nails are not broken by the displacement of the shoe ; 
there is a better adaptation of the clip at the toe, and a 
more intimate adhesion is obtained between the iron and 
the surface of the horn. 

' Hot shoeing endows the hoof with more resistance ; 
the horn, heated by the iron, is less hygrometrical, and 
less permeable by fluids. 

' M. Reynal thinks that the caloric that impregnates 
the horn favourably disposes it for the reception of the 
shoe ; that it destroys the absorbent, spongy, hygrometri- 
cal properties of the horn, and renders it insensible to ex- 
ternal influences. . . . With some show of reason, the 
efl'ects produced on horn by the hot iron have been com- 
pared to those of fire on pieces of wood whose extremities 
are superficially carbonized before being buried in the 
ground. Every one knows that this operation con- 
tributes to the preservation of the wood by preserving it 
from the action of humidity.' 

Professor Renault put the two methods to the test of 
what was looked upon by competent authorities as a con- 
vincing experiment. He took two feet from a dead horse, 
one of which had been shod in the ordinary manner by 
fitting the iron plate to it while hot, and the other by the 
cold plan, according to the prescribed rules. These feet 
were immersed for twelve days in the water and mud of a 
pond, and afterwards washed and exposed for eight days 
to the action of heat. At the end of that period, the foot 
that had been fitted with the cold shoe, the hoof of which 
was previously swollen under the influence of humidity, 
had lost a great part of its primitive volume by the action 
of the heat. The shoe projected slightly all round the foot. 


although it had been closely fitted to the inside quarter, 
according to rule. It was not so firm on the hoof; the 
rivets were not so solid, or so well incrusted in the wall. 
With the other foot, shod on the hot method, nothing like 
this was observed ; after, as before the experiment, the 
solidity of the shoeing was excellent. It was this test 
that led M. Reynal to believe that the caloric which im- 
pregnates the horn disposes it favourably for the reception 
of the shoe ; that it destroys its absorbent, spongy, hygro- 
metrical properties, and renders it insensible to external 

With regard to the risk of injury from burning the 
sensitive parts enclosed within the hoof, the opponents of 
hot fitting, the majority of whom really knew little, if 
anything, of the matter practically, and either forgot or 
were unaware of the fact that horn is a slow conductor of 
heat, might have been converted by the experiments of 
Professor Delafond. He showed in a most conclusive 
manner, that a very long-continued application of the hot 
shoe was required to affect the vascular parts of the foot. 
Applying a small thermometer to the inner surface of the 
sole, and bringing a hot shoe in contact with the ground 
aspect of the foot, he found it required three minutes 
burning to produce any effect on the thermometer. 
Reynal also experimented to test this fact, and the result 
was, that the thermometer inside the hoof did not mark 
any change until after the sole had been roasted by a hot 
iron for a period three times longer than that needed for 
a farrier to fit his shoe. And M. Barthelemy has watched 

' Vatcl. Rapport sur la Ferrure a Froid. Soc. Centrale Vctcri- 
naiiv, 1846. 


workmen who were unconscious of his presence, in order 
to note the exact number of seconds during which they 
held the hot shoe to the foot. These observations proved, 
that in shoeing loo. hoofs, the hot shoe was kept in con- 
tact with the horn on an average of from 46 to 47 seconds ; 
that the maximum of this application was 80 seconds, and 
the minimum 29 seconds. He never knew of a horse be- 
ing injured in this manner. 

It may be useful to know Delafond's conclusions as to 
the relative influence of various degrees of temperature 
on the foot : — 

' I. The shoe warmed to a dark red heat, the carbon- 
ized portion of the sole not having been removed by the 
buttress, transmits more caloric to the living tissues within 
a given time than the shoe heated to a bright red (rouge 
cerise) . 

' 2. The thickness of the sole being the same, the 
shoe heated to a dark red causes a deeper and more severe 
burn than the bright red one. 

'3, These experiments confirm what was stated in 
1758 by Lafosse, that it is not the shoe heated to bright 
red that most frequently causes burns of the vascular sole, 
but rather that which is scarcely red or black heated.' ' 

Latterly, the few advocates of cold fitting blamed the 
hot method for causing dryness of the horn and con- 
traction of the hoof; but they either kept out of sight, or 
were not cognisant of the fact, that these conditions had 
been complained of when nothing but cold fitting was 

In a few years the cold fitting method in France had 

' 0. Delqfund. Recueil de Med. Veterinaire, p. 951. 1845. 


completely failed, and was a mere tradition, only advo- 
cated by some eccentric individual, whose fancies were 
unassailable by facts. 

Even M. Riquet, who had retired from the army, and 
had become veterinary surgeon to a large Omnibus Com- 
pany in Paris, no longer recomm.ended it ; and the army 
horses were shod on the infinitely superior principle of 
hot fitting. 

Professor Bouley remarks, that it is impossible to do 
iustice to a horse's feet, when shoeing them in a stable, 
away from the forge, by this cold adjustment of the shoes. 
There are so many variations in size, form, and general 
configuration, which no workman can remember when 
making the shoes ; and if these are not rigorously adapted 
to the disposition of the foot, then is that organ likely to 

Alluding to the experiments that had been instituted 
to ascertain the relative value of the two methods, he 
says : ' From whence arises so great a difference in the 
results, which is com.pletely to the disadvantage of the 
cold fitting ? It is because the hot shoe, in fusing the 
horn with Vv'hich it comes in contact, imprints itself, it 
may be said, like a seal into sealing wax, and in this way 
the foot and shoe are in the same relation to each other 
as surfaces that exactly coincide ; while no matter how 
expert the workman may be in using his tools to level the 
horn in a cold state, he can never do this so completely 
as may be done by making an impression with the heated 
shoe, and consequently establishing between the plantar 
margin of the hoof and the shoe an exact coaptation. It 
may be added, that when the horn has been softened by 


the action of caloric, the nails enter it with more facility, 
the clips and inequalities are more easily incrusted, and 
when it recovers its habitual consistency after cooling, 
the union between it and the metallic parts which are in 
juxtaposition, and which penetrate its substance, become 
all the more intimate because of the slight contraction 
that follows the dilatation produced by the caloric. In 
these conditions, the horn contracts on the shanks of the 
nails, ensheathing them still more firmly. Nothing like 
this occurs in cold fitting. The shoe so fixed is held to 
the hoof by the clenches alone, and, as often happens, 
the coaptation between these two not being very intimate, 
the branches of the shoe spring under the foot at each 
step, the clenches are easily broken by this movement, 
and the shoe is detached.' 

Professor Goyau is entirely in favour of the shoes 
being fitted while in a hot state. 

It is impossible to notice all the new shoes introduced 
in France. As in England, many of them were scarcely 
submitted to trial before they failed ; others underwent a 
longer ordeal, and gradually subsided into forgetfulness, 
while the best-devised never attained to any degree of 
popularity. In 1820, M. Sanfarouche introduced a shoe 
which had its brief day. Believing in the expansion of 
the foot to the same extent as did Bracy Clark, this device 
was merely an English fullered shoe, or, as sometimes oc- 
curred, one stamped in the French fashion. It was d^ the 
same thickness throughout, was bevelled and seated like 
the ordinary shoe in use in this country, and wider at the 
heels than elsewhere, in order to facilitate the expansion 
of the hoof. It was also narrow, to prevent slipping. A 


short time after this shoe had fallen into disuse, another 
inventor introduced a ' hipposandal ' system of shoeing ; 
a large establishment was opened for the manufacture of 
this article, and Paris was duly placarded with the marvel- 
lous results to be derived from the application of this 
humane invention to the feet of horses. It had but a 
very brief existence, and was quickly forgotten. Then 
another shoe was proposed to prevent slipping. This was 
almost identical with the winter shoe in use in Canada, in 
having its ground-surface quite concave, and the animal 
resting on nothing but a sharp margin, which could not 
fail to give excellent foothold so long as it lasted. Un- 
fortunately this was only for a brief period, as the shoe 
was made of iron. Had it been manufactured of steel, as 
the Canadian shoe is, it would, in all likelihood, have proved 
too slippery for the pavement. 

The prevention of slipping has determined, more or 
less, the form of nearly all the shoes and methods of shoeing 
proposed in recent times. Indeed, it appears to have been, 
next to the preservation of the wall of the hoof, the chief 
desideratum from the very earliest period. We have ob- 
served that the primitive shoes had calkins to grasp the 
earth, and, in addition, well-lodged nail-heads, that stood 
high above the level of the shoe, and while keeping the 
animal's foot on a plane parallel with the ground, endowed 
it with the grasping powers of a double row of catches such 
as no modern shoeing has furnished. A farrier of Tours 
some years ago endeavoured to imitate this very primitive 
mode, and made nails with an iron shank and a large steel 
head. These, their inventor said, possessed two advantages : 
I. They preserved the shoe from wear, as the heads of the 


nails sustained the effects of contact with the ground, and 
were, in this way, economical. 2. They secured the 
animal wearing them a safe footing on the pavement, 
either in summer or winter. 

No doubt, the early inhabitants of Gaul and Britain 
have testified to these advantages two thousand years 

M. Perrier, believing that the ordinary expansion 
theory was a fallacy, and that the supposed movement 
took place at the anterior part of the foot, introduced a 
method of shoeing which was intended to promote the 
toe and quarter resiliency. The hoof was pared as thin 
as possible at these parts, while the heels were permitted 
to grow strong. The shoe was very narrow in front, but 
wide and thick towards the ends of the branches. The 
method of shoeing aj^peared to be, in many respects, 
almost exactly the reverse of that in every-day use. Its 
trial appears to have been very brief and unsatisfac- 

Still more recently, M. Watrin attempted to modify the 
ordinary method of shoeing, though in a very unreasonable 
manner. His object appears to have been merely directed 
to prevent contraction of the heels ; and we can scarcely 
doubt that the means by which he sought to attain that 
end were those most likely to induce this deformity. The 
sole was well pared, the frog and bars mutilated, the ex- 
ternal quarter of the fore-foot was reduced to a lower level 
than the inner, though in the hind-foot it was the reverse. 
The shoe was that generally in use in France, only at the 
inner corner of each heel it had a clip that bent down and 
grasped the inner aspect of the bar. This shoe and 


method of shoeing could not possibly succeed, destructive 
as it was to the foot in general, but particularly to the in- 
flections of the crust. It was merely Ruini's shoe. 

Veterinary Surgeon Naudin proposed a very narrow, 
light shoe, with a level bearing on the ground ; for it 
must be remembered that the ordinary French shoe is 
' adjusted,' or curved up at the toe, like that proposed by 
Goodwin, Miles, and Fitzwygram. It did not vary to 
any notable degree from other shoes of this type ; and the 
most important feature in the method of applying it 
was its being attached to the foot by from four to six 
nails. The sole of the foot was left intact. 

Yet later, M. Benjamin introduced a shoe which may 
be said to be the same as that proposed by Sanfarouche ; 
though it was a great step in advance of what had yet been 
offered during this century in France. The entire sole and 
frog were left in their natural condition, and the crust only 
was diminished to its natural proportions. M. Benjamin 
justly claimed for this light, narrow shoe, and unmutilated 
sole and frog, great advantages over other systems, and 
the discussions among the French veterinary surgeons, 
which followed the introduction of his plan, shows that 
there was a singular unanimity as to the necessity for 
maintaining this most important region of the hoof in its 
full strength and solidity. 

Nor has France been without its machine-made shoes 
of iron and steel, contrived to prevent slipping, while re- 
sisting wear. M. Peschelle, some years ago, introduced a 
shoe with circular projections or double calkins on its 
ground surface, which was made by machinery. This 
shoe not answering its purpose, the same inventor had 


laminated bars forged with a deep groove, or grooves, 
running along the middle of one of their faces, and from 
these bars shoes were made. The foot surface being flat, 
and the ground side deeply cut by the groove, afforded a 
tolerably secure grip of the pavement. 

I have not been able to learn whether these were ever 
much employed, or whether they are now in use. From 
what I have heard, it would appear that, like all the 
I :achine-made shoes in this country, their utility was 
limited, and they scarcely attained notoriety before they 
became partially or totally obsolete. 

Professor Tabourin, of Lyons, introduced yer.v a piiiroii. 
circulaire, which were made by machinery. The result of 
this experiment in hoof-armature has not been made 
public, I believe. 

To a wonderful extent, it has been otherwise with a 
shoe and method of shoeing which, perhaps, more than any 
other in this century, has attracted public attention. In 
1865, M. Charlier, a veterinary surgeon in Paris, brought 
to notice a patented method of shoeing which he desig- 
nated ' periplantaire.' It proved to be the greatest inno- 
vation on the established routine of the a,ge, so far as the 
farrier's art is concerned. And yet, after all, like the 
' ferrure Benjamin,' the ' ferrure Charlier ' in France is but 
a page of old Lafosse's treatise, which the oftener we read, 
the more we wonder at the existence of the grossest ab- 
surdities in shoeing, and at the presence of painful and de- 
structive diseases that ruin the horse and prove sad sources 
of bewilderment to his owner. 

The 'ferrure Charlier' is a gentle modification of the 
' fer incruste enclave' or 'croissant' of Lafosse, and the 


narrow shoe of Moorcroft, Mavor, and others. It con- 
sists, or rather consisted, in the insertion or imbedding of 
a narrow, but comparatively thick, band of iron or mild 
steel, around the front of the foot, in a recess cut out for 
it in the crust or wall of the hoof, and is very simple to 
look at and to consider. Only remove so much compara- 
tive soft and brittle horn, and substitute a hard, tough rim 
of iron or steel, almost as light (if we look at the ordinary 
shoes) as the material you remove, and you have insured 
the soliped against the effects of travelling, and almost 
restored his foot to its pristine condition. 

Such is the Charlier method of shoeing ; and if it has 
been modified in one or two essential features since its in- 
troduction, in others it has withstood the test of time, and 
testified in the most unequivocal manner to the correctness 
of the teaching afforded by the great author of modern 
and humane farriery. The idea of this method of shoeing, 
M. Charlier says, was suggested by the fashion of arming 
the extremity of a walking-stick by a ferrule, which every- 
body knows is a most efficient protection to the mass of 
wood it encloses. 

On the loth August, 1865, he makes the following 
communication to the Societe Imperiale et Centrale de 
Medecine Vetcrinaire: 'Many among you have already 
heard of a new system of shoeing that I have imagined to 
prevent horses from slipping, at the same time affording 
them a natural bearing on the ground, and opposing con- 
traction of the heels, and preventing several diseases caused 
by the shoeing now in use. Have I solved this difficult 
problem ? I hope so ; for the theory of abler authors 
founded on the anatomy and physiology of the foot is 


completely in favour of my procedure, and numerous 
experiments made in every condition have afforded me 
the following results. . . . This shoeing consists in the 
methodical application of a small bar of iron or steel, bent 
on the flat, thicker and wider at the toe and sides of the 
toe than at the quarters and heels, especially in its outer 
branch ; it is about the width of the crust at its upper 
face, is perforated by from four to six nail-holes, rarely 
more, and is fitted into a groove or recess made at the 
inferior border of the wall, by means of small English 
nails with very thin shanks, driven in the usual way. 
Simple in conception, as it is in execution, this shoeing 
has many advantages, and its consequences are immense. 
I will endeavour to prove this to you. First, let us re- 
member what our learned colleague, Professor Bouley, has 
said in his admirable works on shoeing : " The art of the 
farrier ought to be to preserve to the hoof the integrity 
of its form, essentially allied to that of its functions ; and 
this result can only be obtained in leaving to the bars, the 
buttresses {arcs-boutants — the angle formed by the bar 
and crust), and the frog and sole all their power of re- 
sistance ; in protecting them without interfering with their 
action, their contact with the ground, their suppleness, or 
their natural flexibility." 

' No mode of shoeing as practised to-day can com- 
pletely respond to these various demands. To apply to the 
sole of the foot a metallic plate, more or less wide, but al- 
ways inflexible, restrains it, elevates the frog, prevents its 
participating in weight-bearing, and, do as we may, hinders 
its natural functions, destroys more or less rapidly its supple- 
ness, the elasticity of the horny box, and, in a word, in- 


jures the vitality, the nutrition, and the good conform- 
ation of the foot. 

'The frog which is thrown out of its functions, says 
Coleman, becomes diseased. It is the same with the ex- 
ternal border of the sole and the bars when hindered from 
contact with the ground and deprived of their normal 
functions. When a horse has its shoes taken off, it is 
easy to see that all these organs suffer, that they have 
not their amplitude, their form, or their natural consist- 
ency. Most frequently they are hard, contracted, atro- 
phied, dried up, or rotten. In the country, where it is 
possible to allow horses to go without shoes, and in foals 
which have not yet been shod, with the exception of the 
crust being worn, we see nothing abnormal ; the frogs 
are large, the heels solid, the horn of the sole supple 
though resisting, and all, in a word, tends to show that 
vitality is there as in other parts of the body, and that the 
foot receives the nutritive fluids necessary to it. 

' Having been struck for a long time with this diflfer- 
ence, and the troublesome consequences which result there- 
from, I sought in vain, like so many others, to modify the 
actual shoe, until one day I said to myself: Since the unshod 
horse travels perfectly well on unpaved or non-macadam- 
ized roads, and as it is always the crust which commences to 
break and become worn, owing to the hardness of the stony 
streets, is it not possible to protect this wall without touch- 
ing the other parts ? and would this not solve the problem ? 

' It was natural, therefore, that I should reflect that on 
the handles of several instruments, on the ends of certain 
articles, a ferrule of iron or copper was put to prevent 
them from splitting. 




' Full of hope that the sole and the other parts would 
offer sufficient resistance to the hardness of our pavements 
and stony roads, I tried, and little by little, after many 
attempts, I at last imagined the shoe I now have the 
honour to lay before you. 

' This shoe, thicker than it is wide, is very light com- 
pared with the ordinary shoe, weighing more than a third 
less ; it is forged without trouble even by one man, and is 
turned, fitted, and attached as easily as the other. I am 
inclined to believe, then, that I have reached the end I 
proposed to myself, and which was to make horses travel 
unshod, or, since that was not possible with our paved and 
macadamized roads, at least with a simple rim of iron 
which allows all parts of the plantar surface, especially the 
frog and buttresses, to participate in sustaining the weight 
and adhering solidly to the ground. 

' It is a long time since the great practitioner Lafosse 
had recognized the necessity of allowing the frog to play 
its part ; we have not forgotten the famous lunette shoe 
which has been so much lauded, and the only incon- 
veniences of which were that it allowed the horn of the 
heels to be split and prevented wearing of the toe, thus 
giving the limb a false position and interfering with free 

' My shoe has not these defects ; for while accom- 
plishing the same object, it protects the heels, wears regu- 
larly along its circumference, like the foot itself in favour- 
able conditions. 

' It is a solid artificial border, replacing the inferior 
margin of the wall, which is not strong enough to resist 
our hard roads. It is no more than this. 


'The horse thus shod, after the early days succeeding 
its first application, when it sometimes goes less freely 
than usual, and appears more sensitive to the asperities of 
the ground, movies evenly, and with lightness, grace, sup- 
pleness, and liveliness, and is more easily managed ; all his 
paces, in a word, indicate that he finds himself more at 
liberty than with the sub-plantar shoeing. 

'When at rest, we observe that he has nearly always 
his four feet resting on the ground, while other horses 
have usually a foot resting — no doubt to relieve altern- 
ately the dull pain or fatigue they experience in the hoof; 
neither is this so hot or feverish after journeys. 

' Like the Lafosse shoe, although much more effi- 
ciently, it prevents slipping. During the frost of the first 
days in January and February, I have been able to travel 
with confidence without frost nails or calkins, when the 
horses of others could not move unless their feet were 
armed with these appliances so destructive to feet and 
limbs. I one day travelled along boldly with a mare 
whose limbs were used-up, but which was shod on my 
system, alongside a troop of cavalry, the soldiers being 
forced to dismount and lead their horses by the bridle. 
In snowy weather, every horse had its feet balled and 
walked with difficulty, while mine experienced nothing of 
the kind, and this result has since been observed with 
farm horses working on heavy clay land, where, during 
damp weather, they previously had their feet laden with 
masses of soil several inches thick, from which they could 
only with difficulty be freed. 

' It must be an immense advantage in Paris to be able 
to prevent horses from slipping, not only during the 

37 * 


frosts of winter, but when the roads are greasy or leaded 
(plombe), on the granite pavement, where so many horses 
fall, or on the rolled asphalte, which, although a calamity 
at present, may become a great boon, in saving horses 
and carriages, be easier kept clean, diminish the noise, 
dust, etc., if my shoeing is adopted. 

' What falls, sprains, and accidents of every description 
will be avoided in preventing horses from slipping ! Per- 
fectly firm on all kinds of pavement, they will be more 
light in hand, more easy to drive, will be less fatigued, and 
tire their riders less, will travel more quickly, and we will 
not so often see those premature failures of the limbs for 
which the curative art can do so little, and which cause 
such heavy losses to the owners of horses. 

' My shoeing is also opposed to the development of 
corns (bleimes) and contusions, caused either by the or- 
dinary shoes or the interposition between them and the 
sole of stones, pebbles, or other hard bodies, since the 
branches of my shoe do not bear on the corners of the 
sole, and no foreign body can fix itself there, or bruise 
the living structures. 

'But that which more particularly makes my method 
of shoeing superior to all the other known methods is, I 
repeat, the fact of the foot being allowed its liberty of 
action, all its vertical and lateral elasticity, however trifling 
this may be at the lower part of the hoof, or v/hatever 
may be the combinations it determines there ; in this 
respect it evidently opposes wasting of the hoof and con- 
traction of the heels, that destructive affection which ruins 
a considerable number of valuable horses. 

' At first sight, this precious result of my shoeing may 


not appear manifest, for already several of my confreres 
have thought that the foot must be constrained by the 
little bar of iron that constitutes the shoe. To convince 
them that this is not so, it is sufficient to take the 
branches of the shoe in both hands, and to separate or 
push them together, when it will be found that they yield 
to pressure. In operating in the same manner by the 
pressure of the thumbs against the branches of the sole, 
the hands being joined around the hoof, I have also re- 
marked and demonstrated to others the elasticity of the 
shoe, which follows the movements, dilatation, and con- 
traction of the heels : the animal's weight, in coming upon 
the foot in every part, produces on it, as on the wall itself, 
the effect of a wedge driven into a piece of wood. All 
that can be said against my shoe is its too great elasticity 
when it is worn thin. In striking on the pavement it 
may spread out from the heels, inconvenience the animal, 
or break. I remedy this trifling inconvenience by making 
the last hole as far back as possible. 

' For saddle horses, for those of light draught, and for 
all those chevaux de luxe, or of agriculture, which do not 
work very severely, this shoeing will certainly prove a great 

' It only remains to be seen if it will sufficiently resist 
the repeated and excessively fatiguing journeys performed 
by the horses in public conveyances, and especially those 
omnibus horses which travel on the bad pavement of 

' For the first case, placed as I am, I am already in a 
position to be able to solve the question. Numerous 
experiments are being made with the horses of the Com- 


pagnie Imperiale des Voitures de Paris, and it has already- 
been proved that for the fore-feet, the duration of the 
shoe leaves nothing to be desired, and it is at least equal 
to that of the ordinary shoe. For the hind-feet only, be- 
cause of the hard work imposed upon these horses, more 
resistance is required ; and I hope to obtain this result 
when the hoofs become stronger, and allow me to employ 
shoes which are thicker at the toe, and also adding a kind 
of clips, for those which twist their feet. At present this 
is not possible ; the feet have been too long narrowed at 
the toe, rasped, chiselled, deteriorated, in a word chinoises ; 
and it is necessary that I wait until nature, with the help 
of the simple protection she requires, repair the damage 
which has been done. It is not usually until the third or 
fourth shoeing, when the wall begins to grow thicker, and 
the horn of the sole stronger and more solid, that we may 
■v^enture to put on strong shoes and imbed them well.' 

As this mode of shoeing has attracted much attention, 
and as it presents several features which, if they are not 
particularly novel, are yet interesting, closely connected 
as they are with the functions and preservation of the 
horse's foot, the principles followed in its application will 
be noticed somewhat in detail, particularly as they are 
sufficiently simple to be readily understood. 

The instruments required differ but little from those 
now in use, though they may be much lighter and more 
convenient. The boutoir employed by the French mare- 
chal to pare the foot has, in this instance, its borders raised 
at right angles to a certain height, and is provided with a 
guide or regulator in the middle of its louder face, so as to 
give to each side of the blade a width proportioned to the 


thickness of the wall of the foot intended to be shod in 
this manner. M. Charlier insists that this instrument 
should only be employed to make the groove or trench 
for the reception of the shoe, the sole, frog, and bars not 
being allowed to be pared, but only relieved of the dead 
horn which is detached or projects in the region of the 
heels ; and he wisely suggests that this houtoir might be 
replaced by a flat double or single rainette, provided with 
a guide. He gives a figure of an instrum^ent of this kind, 
which resembles the English farrier's drawing-knife, the 
only difference being the presence of a stud fixed into its 
under surface near the curve or point, to prevent cutting 
too deeply into the margin of the sole. This contrivance, 
however, according to my experience, is imperfect, owing 
to the stud being a fixture, and not allowing any latitude 
to be observed in channelling into a large, small, thin, 
or strong hoof. My farrier-serjeant has devised a much 
safer and more convenient instrument in the form of a 
knife somewhat like the ordinary drawing-knife, but about 
one-half its length, with only about an inch of cutting 
edge at its extremity, the end of which, instead of turning 
over in a curve, stands up at nearly a right angle to the 
blade for about half an inch. The guide is a plate of 
iron about three inches long, narrower than the blade of 
the knife, with a slot or slit passing through the greater 
part of its length, and attached to the lower face of the 
instrument by two small screws — one of these a finger- 
screw, which stand in this slit, and are fixed into two holes 
in the knife. This arrangement, as will be readily under- 
stood, permits the cutting edge to be regulated from the 
extremity of the blade to the extent of an inch back- 


wards, just as necessity may require when preparing the 
hoof. The guiding power in this respect is considerably 
enhanced by a portion of the anterior extremity of the 
plate being bent downwards at a right angle to the knife, 
and to about the same extent as the end of the blade is 
turned upwards ; this shoulder rests against the face of 
the wall of the hoof, and very materially aids the shoer 
in performing the most difficult and hazardous part of 
the operation — the cutting so close to the sensitive and 
vascular structures of the foot without injuring them/ 

Charlier's directions for forging the shoes are these : 
'The most convenient-sized iron is that in bar i X -| 
inch for large shoes, and ^ X | for small ones ; or 
even square iron, more or less thick, according to the 
strength required. From such bars the shoes can be 
forged with an ordinary hammer : the iron is cut off in 
lengths proportioned to the size of the shoe ; one side is 
made at a heat, but without stamping the holes ; the 
second side is formed at the second heat, the turning of 
the shoe to its proper shape being effected by principally 
striking its upper border around the toe on the beak of 
the anvil, so as to give it the natural inclination of the 
foot. A shoe thus turned is narrower on its upper or 
foot surface than its lower or ground one. 

'The nail-holes are made in each branch or side, and 
are two or three, rarely four, in number ; one at the side 
of the toe, another at the quarter or middle of the branch, 
and a third at the heel, all placed at regular intervals. In 
my trials of this system I have usually had only three nails 

' Mr Brennand, Instrument-maker, 217, High Holborn, London, 
now makes this knife from my model. 


on the outer side and two on the inner, and always found 
that number quite sufficient, even in the largest shoes. 
With small ones I have only employed two nails on each 
side. To stamp these, the shoe must be frequently heated, 
as from the thinness of the metal it quickly cools ; the 
holes so made are smaller than those of ordinary shoes, are 
oblong from before to behind, and rounded at the angles so 
as not to weaken the iron ; they are formed by an untem- 
pered cast-steel punch provided with a very tapering and 
almost square extremity, the sharp corners being removed, 
and the point terminating like a grain of barley. An 
assistant holds the shoe in a pair of tongs on the anvil, 
and it is pierced from fine to coarse by light blows, the 
punch being withdrawn quickly, and straightened if bent, 
moistened to keep it cool, and dipped in grease to make 
it cut more promptly. 

' To counter-pierce the shoe, it is necessary to have a 
thinner punch than that for stamping, and a little care is 
necessary to prevent the shoe being broken. 

' It is of importance that the best iron be used, 
notwithstanding its high price ; the expense is com- 
pensated for by only half the weight being required. It 
must not be brittle. Two old shoes furnish sufficient 
material to make a new one ; hind-shoes are to be pre- 

The most delicate and difficult stage in the operation 
is, of course, attaching the metal to the hoof. Charlier's 
directions are as follows : 

' I. The horse ought to have been shod a long time, 
in order that the sole may have acquired that so-called 
excess of thickness that is usually cut away by the farrier. 



The old shoes must be carefully removed, in order that 
the crust of the hoof be not broken. Only two shoes 
to be taken off at once, and these diagonal ones — near 
hind and off fore, and vice verm ; all the old nails and 
fragments of these, if present, to be extracted. 

' 2. With an ordinary rasp cut away the angle of the 
lower border of the wall around the whole circumference 
of the foot, so as to straighten it and form a bevel or 
slope, which greatly facilitates the employment of the 

'3. On this bevelled edge form the groove to receive 
the shoe, but do not cut it so deep or so wide as the 
thickness of the sole and width of the wall, the limit of 
the latter being the zone or white-line that marks the 
separation of these two portions, just within the track of 
the old nails (fig. 196). 

'4. Mould the hot shoe on 
the beak of the anvil by gentle 
blows, so as to give it, either 
from memory or by measure- 
ment on an old shoe, the shape 
of the foot, heating and reheat- 
ing it until it is perfectly adapted, 
border to border, to the wall. If 
the horse wears its shoes quickly, 
the outer branch may be left thicker than the inner one. 

'5. Make the shoe hot, and fit it into the groove by 
holding it there, hut ivithout pushing it toivards the sole, 
taking great care not to leave it so long as to burn, or 
even heat, the living tissues which are very near this 
cavity. A few seconds are sufficient for this operation. 

fig. 196 


' 6. A solid and equable bearing for the shoe having 
been obtained, with a small drawing-knife gently remove 
the superficial layer of horn that has been in contact with 
the hot shoe, making in this way a little canal [cannelure) 
at the angle of the groove around the sole, but without 
touching the latter. The intention of this is to leave a 
space which will allow a little play at the corresponding 
angle of the shoe. 

' 7. Take the shoe and shorten the branches if they 
are too long, for they should not pass beyond the heels of 
the foot ; round them in a sloping manner from side to 
side, and with a half-round file take away the inner angle 
of the upper face of the shoe, so as to form a slight bevel 
which, corresponding as it does to the canal at the bottom 
of the groove in the hoof, prevents the sensitive parts 
being compressed when the weight is thrown upon the 

' 8. Attach the shoe with nails in the ordinary manner. 
The nails should be small and of the ordinary English 
shape, but the heads a little flatter and longer ; they ought 
to be strong at the neck and thin in the shank.' 

' On good feet these different manoeuvres, which have 
taken so long to describe, are easy of execution ; and it is 
only necessary that the intelligent farrier should bring to 
his task a little willing attention in order to practise them. 

' In delicate feet with low heels, thin soles, and narrow 
walls, such as we so commonly have to deal with when 
paring and rasping has been allowed for some time, the 
farrier must take the greatest precautions not to injure the 
quick. He will not be able to imbed his shoes so deeply 
as can be otherwise done. In a strong foot this incrusta- 


tion may be safely carried so far, that the ground-surface 
of the shoe and the sole are on the same level, and share 
in supporting the weight and strain imposed upon them. 
With feet damaged by previous maltreatment, this cannot 
be done until the horn has been sufficiently regenerated ; 
and in the mean time the shoe may be allowed to project 
a little above the sole, and particularly towards the heels ; 
though it does not last so long, does not hold so fast, and 
the frog, not coming entirely on the ground, is longer in 
regaining its healthy conformation. In these cases, lighter 
shoes might be used, though they must be replaced more 
frequently ; but in this the hoof does not suffer, the nails 
being so small and few in number, and no paring or 
rasping being allowed. With feet of this description it 
sometimes happens that after the first application of the 
shoes, the horse does not travel well for three or four 
days, or sometimes even longer ; he is afraid to touch 
the ground. Rest, or gentle exercise on soft soil, will 
suffice to give him assurance and free action ; and as a 
longer time elapses, every inconvenience disappears ; the 
sole and crust which are never mutilated become thick 
and natural, and then stronger shoes may be applied, and 
imbedded deeper.' 

M. Charlier remarks, that it is not rare to see parts of 
the sole exfoliate in flakes during the first months of his 
method of shoeing ; this, he says, is the dead liorn which 
is being removed to give place to a good secretion as 
elastic as it is resisting, and in this case it may be useful to 
aid nature, by carefully excising these flakes, which, if 
allowed to project, would produce the effects of a foreign 
body. In this, I think, he is mistaken, as in my experi- 



ments with this system of shoeing, if it may be so named, 
I have always found every particle of horn useful, and 
never could discover that it caused any inconvenience. 

At first this important modification of the ordinary 
mode of arming the hoof gave rise to very animated dis- 
cussions. It was argued that it possessed very little novelty, 
and that it was but a slight improvement, or otherwise, 
on Lafosse's imbedded shoe. There is certainly not 
much difference if one compares a section of the two 
methods. Lafosse's we see in figure 197, and Charlier's 
in figure 198. The shoe of the first-named veterinarian 

fig. 197 fig. 19S 

was lighter and narrower, and lay in a space between the 
sole and crust ; whereas Charlier's shoe rested on the crust 
alone, and was thicker, a trifle wider, and much heavier. 

Then grave doubts were entertained as to the amount 
of injury likely to be inflicted by a rim of iron placed so 
near the sensitive and vascular parts of the foot. To 
imbed the thick shoe, so that a portion of the sole might 
reach the ground, required the removal of so large a piece 
of the crust, that the union between it and the sole was 
seriously threatened ; the shoe being thicker than the 
latter, it will be easily seen that to incrust it thoroughly 
a most extensive chasm had to be made around the mar- 
gin of the sole, whose attachment with the crust was 
therefore greatly weakened. This objection appears to have 


forced itself so strongly on M. Charlier, that only partial 
incrustation was resorted to in i866 ; the shoe being made 
a trifle wider and thicker, and the groove for its reception 
much shallower, and certainly not exceeding the thickness 
of the sole. It appears clips were also added, to prevent the 
shoe driving back against the sensitive part of the foot. 
So great an alteration had been made, that instead of 
' preplantar,' Professor Bouley designated it 'presolar' 
shoeing. Its use on the hind-feet was nearly, if not quite, 
discontinued, as these organs are of little importance, so 
far as shoeing and disease are concerned, when compared 
with those in front ; and the wear was so severe at the toes, 
the thinnest part of the hind-feet, that the encircling bands 
could not be made strong enough to last for a reasonable 
period, neither could they be imbedded deep enough with 

Veterinary Surgeon Signol, who devoted much time 
and attention to the new shoes and their application when 
experiments began to be made with them, reports that 
those used on the omnibus horses of Paris weighed on the 
average 850 grammes (30 ounces) ; they were from i8 to 
20 millimetres thick (7 to 8-ioths of an inch), and were 
incrusted in the wall of the hoof to a depth of 15 milli- 
metres (6-ioths of an inch) ; they had toe-clips. On the 
fore-feet, these shoes lasted 30, and on the hind-feet 28 
days. More than 500 feet were shod within the space of 
six months ; and the advantages noted during that period 
(1866) were: i. Economy in material to the extent of 
at least 250 to 300 grammes each shoe, and even more, 
as some of the ordinary shoes weighed as much as 2 
kilogrammes (4*409 pounds). 2. In consequence of the 


comparatively trifling weight of their shoes, the horses 
acquired a lightness of movement they did not exhibit 
previously. 3. They gained an extraordinary soliditij on 
the pavement, and did not slip. 4. Many horses which 
always had corns and sandcracks, and could not be used 
without bar-shoes, spontaneously recovered from their 
infirmities after the application of this shoe. 5. Those 
frogs which were before shrunken and elrangle, became 
considerably developed, a fact which proves that this shoe 
is perfectly adapted to the physiological movements of 
the foot. 

It will be seen that these horses were excessively over- 
weighted with the ordinary shoe. 

Professor Bouley, perhaps the highest veterinary 
authority in France, and a gentleman of great scientific 
attainments, laid much stress on the particular advantages 
to be derived from this large diminution in weight. He 
had given the system of shoeing his careful attention, 
particularly after the modifications it had undergone, and 
appears to have been much impressed with its favourable 
results, notwithstanding its having deviated from the 
rigorous application of the fundamental principle of 
rational farriery he had laid down : that at each renewal 
of the shoes, the foot be brought, by the aid of instru- 
ments, to the length and form which it would have had if 
the animal had not been shod, and the horn had been 
worn in a natural manner. He believed the disadvantages 
of the ' ferrure Charlier ' were more than counterbalanced 
by its advantages. He noted that, in general, the feet of 
all the horses so shod acquired a tendency to become 
enlarged and regain their primitive form, a circumstance 


which might be explained on reflecting that the sole, bars, 
and frog, having recovered all their thickness, afterwards 
oppose an insurmountable obstacle to that movement of 
contraction on itself, which the hoof tends fatally to assume 
when the sole and frog are thinned, and the bars are de- 
stroyed by the boiitoir. 

For it could not be denied that, with ordinary shoeing, 
the paring of the hoofs brought about this result, as it 
was a common practice to test by pressure of the thumbs 
the proper degree of thinness of the soles. 

M. Bouley thought the shoes could be forged and 
put on as readily as in the old system, and he sums up 
his report, in 1866, as follows: The preplantar shoeing 
had been modified by diminishing the depth of the 
groove, which was not cut so near the living parts of the 
foot ; that this modification, necessitated by experience, 
prevented pain being inflicted, though it had the disad- 
vantage of making the foot longer than it ought to be, 
according to the principles of physiological shoeing ; that 
this inconvenience was increased by the necessity there 
was for giving the shoe a greater thickness — 2 centimetres 
(about 9-ioths of an inch), that its narrowness might be 
compensated for so as to resist wear for a given time ; that 
this inconvenience, which could not be overlooked, was 
yet counterbalanced : a. By the lightening of the shoe, 
which diminished fatigue, b. By the greater surety of the 
horse's footing, a more solid bearing on the ground, greater 
liberty of movement, and as a result, a more efficacious 
employment of its strength, c. By the preservation of 
the integrity of its feet, or the gradual disappearance of 
deformities or diseases afl^ecting them. 


This authority concludes, that whether the preplantar 
system of shoeing succeed, or, like so many other systems, 
fail, its inventor had none the less done good service, in 
showing what was vicious in the present mode of French 
shoeing, and how easy it was to benefit horses by making 
their shoes lighter; already, the opponents of the new 
method were beginning to see the advantage of reducing 
the metallic surface, and that this narrowing of the shoes 
was entirely due to the example given by M. Charlier. 

Professor Bouley was, perhaps, not aware of what had 
been done in England, in this respect ; and that in this 
century M. Charlier s modification had been largely an- 
ticipated. Goodwin and Fitzwygram had demonstrated 
the necessity for leaving the soles un pared, and had con- 
clusively shown that these parts would, to a certain extent, 
sustain pressure from the shoe. Coleman, Gloag, and 
others, had shown that the frogs could only be main- 
tained in a healthy condition by performing their natural 
functions ; Turner, Miles, and Fitzwygram had proved 
that shoes could be retained by a comparatively small 
number of nails ; and Moorcroft and Mavor, that nar- 
row shoes were advantageous in preventing slipping. 

Another good result of this method of shoeing in 
France, was to enlighten the veterinary profession and the 
farriers of that country, with regard to the pernicious 
cradle-like shape they gave to their clumsy shoes, in what 
they termed the ojusture. This unseemly, and appar- 
ently unreasonable, fashion had been maintained and 
strenuously defended since the days of Bourgelat ; and its 
effects must have been very prejudicial, especially when 
improperly applied. The plane-surfaced preplantar shoe 



found as many advocates in this respect as the English 
shoe, equally plane, had, perhaps, previously found oppo- 
nents in France. 

Despite the opposition offered to M. Charlier's inno- 
vation, it made progress on the continent, and attracted 
much attention ; though it has scarcely been noticed in 
England. The inventor, if such a designation may be 
applied, was liberally rewarded by the French Govern- 
ment, and his method of shoeing obtained for him marked 
honours at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. It has received 
the highest measure of praise from the principal veterin- 
ary teachers of France, among whom were MM, Bouley 
and Gourdon ; in Italy, Professors Bassi and Demarchi, 
of the Turin veterinary school, have commended it ; and 
in Spain, Professor Bellido, chief of the veterinary school 
of Cordova, has acknowledged its merits.' 

The somewhat marvellous effects that result from 
allowing the sole and the posterior parts of the foot to 
maintain their integrity, and to assume their natural func- 
tions, appear to have astonished even those who were 
accustomed to study the physiology of that organ ; 
though for that matter the same happy results had been 
constantly, though never generally, recognized, and in this 
country, at least, it was not at all uncommon to employ 
horses with these parts unmutilated, and wearing only thin 
half or whole shoes. 

Fiaschi, no doubt, had noted the same beneficial 

' For llie original papers of M. Charlier, and the numerous letters 
and discussions resulting from this system, see the ' Bulletin de la So- 
ciete Imperiale et Central de Med. Veterinaire,' for 1865, 1866, and 
1867. For reports of the experiments in Italy, see the journal 'II 
Medico Veterinario,' for 1867. 


effects follow the use of his lunette shoes, and Lafosse was 
as well acquainted with the benefits to be derived from 
his method of shoeing as Charlier ; while Osmer and 
Clark were earnest in their protestations against the fashion 
of removing the heels of the foot from the ground. 

Experiments are still being conducted on an extensive 
scale on the continent, but particularly in France, in order 
to test how far the ' ferrure periplantaire ' may be substituted 
for the ordinary method. My own trials, though they 
certainly have been on a limited scale, have proved 
very satisfactory. Draught and saddle horses have been 
shod, and in every case with advantage. The shoes em- 
ployed weighed nearly one-half less than those previously 
worn, and have been retained firmly in their bed by from 
four to six small nails for each shoe. Two cases of foot- 
lameness accompanied by very deformed hoofs and extraor- 
dinarily contracted heels, have immensely improved by 
using a shoe a little shorter than the ordinary rim — only 
reaching to the quarters, and, being light and narrow, in- 
crusted on a level with the sole. An Arab horse with small 
feet, and whose