Archaeologists Unearth 400-Year-Old Horse Graveyard

Horse Graveyard
Archaeologists at the recently discovered 17th-century horse burial grounds in the Netherlands. Photo: Consortium Grensmaas

A team of archaeologists digging for evidence of prehistoric human activity in the Netherlands were surprised to find a massive equine burial ground. Approximately 51 complete horse skeletons were found at the site.

At this time, the archaeologists cannot pinpoint the horses’ cause of death or the reason why so many were buried together. However, through carbon testing they dated the bones to the 1600s. The site is located near the Maas River near the Dutch border with Belgium. The date and location led archaeologists to speculate that the horses may have died in battle during the Dutch War of Independence, also known as the Eighty Years’ War.

The horses were buried methodically but apparently quickly, with some skeletons overlapping others.

“It’s easy to imagine this is how cavalry men might dispose of dead mounts in war time,” said chief archaeologist Angela Simons in an Associated Press article.

The archaeologists also state that the horses may have simply died due to disease or plague and were buried to prevent further spread of illness. No tack has been found at the site, spare a single stirrup. The bone size and structure correlates to that of riding horses rather than draft horses.

The site was found a few weeks ago and was just opened for public viewing on Tuesday, June 29. It is said to be the largest equine burial site found in Europe.


  1. What an interesting find. I would like an update to know exactly what they died from. I am also wondering if they can get some DNA samples from the remains to see what breed/type of horses they were.


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