Name of Object:

Prick spur


Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Burrell Collection, Glasgow Museums

About Burrell Collection, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow

Date of Object:

About hegira 6th century / AD 12th century

Museum Inventory Number:

BC 2.26

Material(s) / Technique(s):



Length 15.2 cm, width 8 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Northern Europe (Germany or Austria).


Originally one of a pair of prick spurs, this spur would have been fixed to footwear, to the sides of the ankle, with the prick pointing out at the back of the heel. A horse-rider (cavalryman, horse-archer, or knight) would use it to prick his horse when commanding it to move or run. The spur has straight sides with two holes at the end of each for the straps that tie around the ankles. These two straight sides meet in the middle to form an elliptical arch. Attached to the point where the two sides meet is a section that has a conical shaped tip (the prick). The spur's straight sides indicate that it could not have been made after the AH 6th century / AD 12th century, while the two strap-holes on the end of the sides of the spur show that this item was not likely to have been made before 1100.

View Short Description

Every Crusader knight, cavalryman and horse-archer would have had a pair of prick spurs like these fixed onto the heel of their footwear. The European Crusader would use the prick to coax his horse into moving or picking up speed.

How date and origin were established:

Artistic analysis, and from extensive research carried out into the manufacture of European arms and armour. The spur's straight sides indicate that it could not have been made after the 12th century, while the strap-holes on the end of the sides of the spur show that this item was not likely to have been made before 1100 AD.

How Object was obtained:

Part of the collection given to the City of Glasgow by Sir William and Lady Burrell in 1944.

Selected bibliography:

Nicolle, D., The Crusades, Oxford, 1988.

Citation of this web page:

Noorah Al-Gailani "Prick spur" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;uk;Mus04;7;en

Prepared by: Noorah Al-GailaniNoorah Al-Gailani

Noorah Al-Gailani is Curator for Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, Scotland. With a BA in Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University and three years' experience in design and folk art preservation, she moved to the UK in 1992. On completing her MA in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1994, she worked as Project Officer at the Grange Museum of Community History documenting the presence of Muslim communities in the London Borough of Brent. In 1995 she was Assistant Curator, Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1996 became Curator for John Wesley's House and the Museum of Methodism in London. She co-authored The Islamic Year: Surahs, Stories and Celebrations (Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2002) for non-Muslim children. Since 2003 she has been based at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, working across the city's museums to interpret Islamic art and culture, ancient and modern, through research, exhibitions and educational activities.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: UK4 13


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Crusaders in the Islamic world

On display in

MWNF Galleries

Arms and Armoury Metalwork


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