In Search of the Eskelhem Horse Trappings

When I first started planning a 3-day mini-holiday to Sweden, I knew that I wanted to tie in a little bit of Jacobsthal-related research while I was there. Unfortunately, Jacobsthal didn’t include any Swedish artefacts in Early Celtic Art. Looking at correspondence from the 1930’s  that we have between Jacobsthal and Holger Arbman, the curator of the Historiska Museet, the only artefacts that Jacobsthal specifically requested information about were the Eskelhem horse trappings.

We’re slowly cataloguing our images from the Jacobsthal archive (see this blog post) and haven’t yet found any of the horse trappings. However, I thought that it would be nice to see the artefacts in person and take photos for reference.

Sweden's Historiska Museet

I headed straight for the Historiska Museet’s prehistoric exhibition galleries to track down the trappings.  Each gallery has its own guide in English, and when I picked up the guide to the Bronze Room, it seemed like my search had come to an end!

However, these are the current contents of case E1:


Although I had never seen the Eskelhem horse trappings before, I was fairly certain that nothing in this case had anything to do with horses. I searched the rest of the prehistoric galleries hoping that the horse trappings had been moved to a different case, but I couldn’t find them. I enlisted the help of two museum guides who knew nothing about the Eskelhem trappings being moved; even a search in the museum’s database turned up nothing. The trappings must have been removed for research or conservation. I felt rather disappointed at coming so close but not seeing them, but as I saw many other fantastic artefacts, I really can’t complain.

The Eskelhem Horse Trappings (Image: Historiska Museet)

Illustration showing how the trappings may have adorned the horses (Image: Historiska Museet)

Other prehistoric artefacts with familiar Celtic motifs that I did manage to see:

Iron and bronze shield boss with triskel design from Uppland, Ultuna c. 550 - 800 AD

Bone comb from Gotland, Gullrum and amber human figure from Västergötland, N Åsarp, both c. 3300 – 2300 BC

3 bronze masks, possibly buttons, from Oland, all c. 500 BC – 400 AD

Bronze hanging bowl with running scroll design from Gotland, Slite c. 1100 – 500 BC

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