During the Medieval period the various leather straps that make up the harness of horses were often elaborately decorated with bells, studs, bosses and pendants. From the writings of Chaucer and from manuscript illustrations of the time that medieval horse harness was often copiously studded with colourful and glittering decoration. Thus we have in the Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales writing of a Monk in the 1380's:-
His bridle, when he rode, a man might hear Jingling in a whistling wind as clear,
Aye, and as loud as does the chapel bell, Where my lord Monk was Prior of the cell.
Pendants were just as likely to have been on the horses of estate officials as on the charger of the knight. Many smaller pendants and mounts were also used as decorations on the bridle and reins.
Medieval Horse Harness Pendant.
The pendants served two purposes. The first was heraldic in which those that were entitled, emblazoned the harness with their colours. The second purpose was decoration of the harness. In ancient times amulets were worn for good fortune and protection against evil. In the Middle Ages items such as brooches and rings could all be set with gems and engraved with magical inscriptions in the belief that these could protect the wearer. Sapphires and various other stones served as amulets to ward off evil, protect from disease or cure illness.
The pendants were made of copper alloy and hung from leather straps and would have been brightly coloured with enamels and often decorated with gold or silver.