Forging horsebits has proven to be a proper challenge. What is immediately apparent is the difference in iron available today and that which the Romans used. In those days, iron had a very low carbon content, making it much easier to forgeweld. So that was certainly a bit of a struggle. Making these bits was also fun, working with Moi Watson to perfect the drawings based on pictures of the originals. In the end, we were both pretty happy how things turned out. Currently, the practical use of the replica's is being studied, as there is some doubt about how and for what these were really used.
Identified as a bit, this object poses a bit of a puzzle. Not only does its construction resemble a Chinese puzzle and admitidly took some thought in actually putting it all together, the way it would be used in a practical way defies logic. Made to the dimensions of the original, currently kept in Museum het Valkhof in Nijmegen, it is still unclear how this bit would have fitted a draught animals mouth with the two rings. Clearly, it is not a regular horsebit as such.
This curb bit was found in Newstead. It has a connected set of posts and the bit itself, the part that goes in the horse's mouth, is a single piece. The rings have been partialy recontructed, as not all were preserved in the original.
Two of these bits were found at Newstead. Called curb bits, they have a torqued section that goes into the animals mouth. The curved part, also torqued, would have held the bit in place. The bit has free moving parts consisting of two serated "propellors" and attachments for the reins. It is presumed this was a driving bit, meant for a horse or mule in harness pulling a cart.
A second curb bit, this time from Nijmegen. The part in the mouth of the horse is made up of two linked segments, the posts have three holes each, allowing for a bar to be placed between the posts and fixed with splitpins. The position of this post can be adjusted by placing it in the different holes in the post. Allthough the bar itself was not present in the original reconstructed, other bits have been found with a similar bar attached with the split pins.