Finds tray – Roman ‘horse and rider’ figurine

This is a Roman ‘horse and rider’ figurine, made of copper alloy and probably dating to between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. It was found in 2015 near Penllyn, Wales.

While the object is quite corroded, it is largely complete, measuring 77mm in length and 74mm in height. The horse and rider were cast as one; however, the horse is flat and rectangular in section. This means that it cannot stand without support and suggests that the legs of the horse may have once stood on some sort of base. The horse is rather crudely depicted, particularly in side profile, posed as if walking forward. The harness, bridle, and reins are all more clearly moulded, as is the rider. He is sitting immediately behind the neck of the horse, with his legs bent on both sides, positioned just behind the horse’s front legs but without any stirrups. His arms are holding the reins on either side of the horse’s neck, and he appears to be looking over his right shoulder. Some details of his face are apparent. His nose is formed by a narrow ridge flanked by two depressions for eyes, and a ridge across his brow may indicate his hairline or could depict a simple helmet. It also appears that the rider may be wearing some sort of short tunic, which ends at the top of his legs. A small circular raised area on the backside of the horse may be the remains of a shield, but the area is too corroded to determine for certain.

Image: Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Horse and riders were a popular image during the Roman period, and this may be a crude example of more elaborate and three-dimensional statuettes known from this period, which depict armoured warriors on horseback.

For more on this figurine, see or search for NMGW-20ACCD on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative – funded in Wales by the Welsh Government, through Amgueddfa Cymru, Cadw, and MALD – to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of more than 1.5 million finds, visit Information for this find was provided by Mark Lodwick, Finds Liaison Officer – Wales.
Text: Kathryn Krakowka.