Rowel Spur

Date: ca. 1400

Geography: Catalonia

Culture: French or Spanish, Catalonia

Medium: Copper alloy, enamel, gold

Dimensions: L. 7 1/4 in. (18.42 cm); L. of neck, 3 in. (7.62 cm); Diam. of rowel, 2 7/8 in. (7.03 cm); Wt. 7 oz. (198.45 g)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Spurs

Credit Line: Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913

Accession Number: 14.25.1737


In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, spurs were recognized symbols of rank and status. The wearing of gilt spurs was restricted to knights and members of the nobility. Squires in training for knighthood wore silver or silver-gilt spurs, while others used spurs of iron or brass. Early medieval spurs were equipped with simple, straight prongs, and were known as prick spurs. By the fourteenth century, the rowel spur, with a rotating wheel, came into general use. The rowels were sometimes pierced with intricate decorative patterns or, as in this example, finished with radiating points resembling a sunburst. This elaborately enameled and gilt spur is decorated with the black and gold checked insignia of the counts of Urgell, a Catalan noble family.