The Fell Pony Museum: Roman
The Fell Pony Museum
Pre-history :: Roman Border Control :: Cavalry :: Foreign influences? :: Hadrian's Wall :: Size :: Colour :: The Horse Goddess


During the last Ice Age, Northern Britain was glaciated; the south-east was polar/alpine desert and steppe-tundra. These were difficult conditions for large grazing animals. Sea levels during the glacial period were some 400 feet lower than they are today, so the British isles were not islands but part of the European land mass.

Ponies probably migrated north and south with the seasons. As the grip of the ice eased, gradually ponies and people would have been able to exist further north. Sea levels would have been rising all the time as the ice and snow thawed. Eventually there was a horse population in Britain isolated from the continental herds by the north Sea and English Channel.

People used ponies, probably to transport home and family to new locations – but equally ponies would have been following the available grazing, and both are reasons for ponies having come north again to Britain. Genetic findings seem to support the notion of a remnant population re-establishing itself:

... ponies appear to be established from an ancient ancestral population, with some rare matrilines maintained within the population to this day. The presence of this node suggests the divergence of the ancestral stock during the periglacial period and that today's British ponies may represent a relic of the expansion of animals following the retreat of the last glacial period rather than more recent introductions in the historical period. (Winton, 2020)



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Last updated 23 May, 2021 .
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