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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Possible Remains of Extinct “Hobby Horses” Uncovered in Ireland

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

COUNTY KILDARE, IRELAND—The Leinster Leader reports that traces of an Anglo-Norman medieval village and what may have been a large horse-breeding farm were discovered in the mid-east region of Ireland ahead of roadway construction. Scholars knew of the village from historic sources, but its exact location had been lost. Test excavations in the settlement revealed a high number of horse remains. Some of the horse bones were smaller and lighter than the others, and may represent animals that had been bred for use in war by light cavalry called hobelars. Their agile mounts, bred in Ireland and exported to England and Scotland, came to be known as hobby horses. The breed is now extinct. Skeletal remains of cattle, sheep, and pigs were also found, in addition to the bones of dogs, cats, deer, pheasants, crows, geese, ducks, and squirrels. For more on medieval Irealnd, go to “The Vikings in Ireland.”

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