Local Horseshoes
Local Horseshoes

Local Horseshoes

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Horseshoes have been used in a variety of folk traditions around the world. These horseshoes are from what is now called Northern Berkshire County in what is now referred to as Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. 

For us in the Northeast of what is now called the United States, folklorist Clifton Johnson cites the following in his book, What They Say in New England: A Book of Signs, Sayings, and Superstitions By Clifton Johnson:

  1. Nailing a horseshoe above the door of your house brings luck.
  2. Nail it so the opening points upwards. Otherwise, all the luck will run out!
  3. In the old days, horseshoes were used to repel witches from the house.

Some of the most comprehensive information for us in what is now called the United States and England is from The Journal of American Folklore Vol. 9, No. 35 (Oct. - Dec., 1896), pp. 288-292 (5 pages)where an article by Robert M. Lawrence, The Folk-Lore of the Horseshoe, explains a variety of theories on the question of "why the horseshoe?" and "to what end?"

At the end of his writing, Lawrence cites an article in the "London World," August 23, 1753, against the repeal of the so-called Witch Act, wherein the writer offers the following satirical advice to whomever it might concern:--

"To secure yourself against the enchantments of witches, especially if you are a person of fashion and have never been taught the Lord's Prayer, the only method I know of is to nail a horse-shoe upon the threshold. This I can affirm to be of the greatest efficacy, insomuch that I have taken notice of many a little cottage in the country with a horse-shoe at its door where gaming, extravagance, Jacobitism, and all the catalogue of witchcrafts have been totally unknown."