Harness Mounts

Introduction

There is an enormous variety of harness mounts, and they can be hard to distinguish from other mounted to straps in other circumstances. Primarily, but specifically, for medieval artefacts, use this term for the following:

  • Shield-shaped mounts (and mounts of rarer forms) with integral rivets on their reverse (often called ‘studs’)
  • Suspension mounts for harness pendants
  • Mounts and other components that supported ‘banners’ and other complex decorative harness arrangements

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use HARNESS MOUNT, unless a pendant suspension mount survives with a pendant attached, in which case use HARNESS PENDANT (or for a ‘banner’ surviving with its mount)

HORSE TRAPPING overlaps in scope with HARNESS MOUNT and thus should not be used.

PAS object classification and sub-classification to be used

Use pendant suspension mount in the classification field, as applicable, and/or heraldic, as applicable – heraldic where both apply

For shield-shaped mounts (and mounts of rarer forms) with integral rivets on their reverse put stud in the sub-classification field

Roman harness mounts

As with all periods distinguishing mounts from harness from other objects mounted to straps is difficult. Nicolay (2007, 374-395) pls 63-84 is a useful starting point for those mounts with integral rivets and loops thought to be associated with harness straps, including pendant suspension mounts.

Early-medieval harness mounts

Various mounts specifically from early early-medieval harnesses are addressed by Fern (2005). It is entirely plausible that many mounts from the late early-medieval period have not been recognised as such; there is a large quantity of en suite equestrian material on the PAS database. Certainly, recognised pendant suspension mounts are few and far between; the pendants of the period are discussed in the harness pendants guide.

Medieval harness mounts

A group of chunky mounts differ from most medieval strap-fittings in having integral rivets. It is not impossible that these mounts were also fixed to things other than horse-harness, but they are so similar to pendants in their construction, decoration and so on that it seems likely that this was their primary use.

Griffiths 1989 shows a number of heraldic mounts, of which nos 3-6 and 11-13 are likely to be horse accessories, with no. 14 being a harness hook. The small stud (up to 20 mm in height), with long integral rivet (no. 4a), is of a type found in situ on a stirrup quoted by Griffiths (1989, 1, 3; no. 4a) which would have connected the stirrup’s apex and the stirrup strap (see also Ashley 2002, 15; fig. 15). Although nos 5 and 6 are identified as brooches, they are large and can be rather crudely made, with none of the delicacy often found on medieval jewellery. They do not always have heraldic decoration, and seem much more likely to be specialised harness accessories rather than dress accessories. The other mounts in this Datasheet – particularly those with rivet holes – are less certainly to be from horses, and could easily be from boxes, [funerary?] brasses etc.

Medieval harness mounts - small, shield-shaped studs: uncertain arms (left, IOW-30D686); de Clare arms (centre, SF-D0D5AD), probably not armorial (SOM-055AF7). Copyrights: Isle of Wight Council; Suffolk County Council; Somerset County Council; Berkshire Archaeology; CC-BY-SA licence)
Medieval harness mounts – small, shield-shaped studs: uncertain arms (left, IOW-30D686); de Clare arms (centre, SF-D0D5AD), probably not armorial (SOM-055AF7). Copyrights: Isle of Wight Council; Suffolk County Council; Somerset County Council; Berkshire Archaeology; CC-BY-SA licence)

Pendant suspension mounts include a few common types, within a large variety (see image, below). One has a short rectangular bar with a pair of integral prongs on its reverse (Griffiths in Clark 2004 (1995), 69; no. 76; see image below, bottom left). These are found in association with generally shield-shaped pendants dated to the later 13th and 14th century based on their heraldry (Ashley 2002, 10-12; figs 10-12; Read 2016, 61; no. 440). Other suspension mounts seem to echo their pendants either in form or decoration (e.g. SWYOR-FD1C04, NLM-C726C4), though this does not always apply (e.g. SF-D3BAD4).

Sample medieval pendant suspension mounts: shield shaped (top left, SWYOR-6686DC); lozengiform (top centre, IOW-C49762); shell shaped (top right, SUR-189A43); square with tabs, heraldic (middle left, IOW-A5351B); bar (middle right, IOW-A9F343); T shaped (bottom left, WREX-643C29); cruciform (bottom right, BH-D2EF33). Copyrights: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Surrey County Council; National Museum Wales; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Sample medieval pendant suspension mounts: shield shaped (top left, SWYOR-6686DC); lozengiform (top centre, IOW-C49762); shell shaped (top right, SUR-189A43); square with tabs, heraldic (middle left, IOW-A5351B); bar (middle right, IOW-A9F343); T shaped (bottom left, WREX-643C29); cruciform (bottom right, BH-D2EF33). Copyrights: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Surrey County Council; National Museum Wales; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

Mounts for the ‘rods’ to which banners were attached, or for attaching spherical fittings (to which decorative, or suspension ‘rods’ were attached), are characterised by having a number of transverse loops as well as perforations for attachment.

Sample medieval harness mounts associated with elaborate sets: with two extant transverse loops (top left, SOM-278821); with one transverse loop (top right, NMS-8EBAAC); with three transverse loops (bottom left, HAMP-BC4A68); with one transverse loop (bottom right, ESS-2D9B82). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Norfolk County Council; Winchester Museums Service; Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service; CC-BY-SA licence)
Sample medieval harness mounts associated with elaborate sets: with two extant transverse loops (top left, SOM-278821); with one transverse loop (top right, NMS-8EBAAC); with three transverse loops (bottom left, HAMP-BC4A68); with one transverse loop (bottom right, ESS-2D9B82). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Norfolk County Council; Winchester Museums Service; Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service; CC-BY-SA licence)

Post-medieval harness mounts

Early post-medieval mounts with two spikes can be hard to divide into harness accessories and dress accessories.  The term STRAP FITTING should be used whenever there is any doubt, as it technically covers both areas. HARNESS MOUNT can be used for the more easily recognisable later post-medieval mounts and slides.

Key references

Griffiths 1989

Ashley 2002

Clark 2004 (1995)