Friday, June 23, 2017


A horse bone unearthed at Britain's only Roman hippodrome horse-race track suggests that chariots could have been pulled by Shetland ponies, according to archaeologists.

The find was made in Colchester, England, when a large entrance gate was uncovered.

The "well preserved" gate was thought to be one of 12 that gave 8,000 spectators access to the site for 150 years.

It was the fifth to be discovered by archaeologists from the Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) since the excavation work at the 450m-long circus started in 2004.

Experts have also been examining the "ambiguous" hoof which appeared to belong to a large Shetland Pony which was used for chariot racing.

CAT Director Philip Crummy said: "This is our most interesting find for a long time at the Roman circus in Colchester.

"Also, as the bone of a Roman horse from the site of a Roman circus, it is very rare.

"It is another exciting find but quite ambiguous as to what it means.

"There has been a long-running debate about the size of the horses which would have been used to race the chariots and this discovery suggests they would have been quite small.

"It suggests it would have been about nine hands quite is small but the bone has not been looked at properly yet.

"It also looks like the bone is showing signs of arthritis which can be common in horses which work too hard and it can be made worse by them doing sharp turns.

"Of course, we are not certain why it was in the circus bit it is a very exciting to see it.

"If we could do more excavating and then found some more horse bones of a similar size it would help us to be more confident about what it was used for."

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