Exhibits of historical artefacts, whether in museums or on line, always favour pretty things. There are certainly pretty spurs from the ancient world, virtually all cast in copper alloy. Yet the most prolific finds across the Roman realm are simple hooked spurs made of iron.
Here is one pair reproduced as the originals (left), and one pair adapted in accord with modern preferences for animal welfare (right).
The middle ages yield a much greater diversity in spurs. The arms are universally longer than the ancient ones. They are initially straight, while from the second half of the twelfth century the arms increasingly show curvature in the vertical axis. Prick spurs remain ubiquitous, but from around the turn of the fourteenth century rowels begin to appear.
This pair is reproduced on the basis of late twelfth-century finds in London.
Ancient sources, and debatable later ones like the Bayeaux Embroidery, represent shield no different to those of infantry being used on horseback, making for a very poor connection with the mount. And even today one does see (at least in England) riders in re-enactments struggling with similarly poor arrangements. It does not have to be that way, however.
Copyright: Timothy George Dawson 2021