History

45. The horse under the old North Bank

Pat Brennan with a horseshoe found beneath the North Bank

One of the most romantic tales in Highbury’s folkore was given a twist by a discovery by workmen redeveloping Arsenal’s old stadium.

Until the early 1990s, it was strongly rumoured that the North Bank had a horse buried underneath.

The legend goes that while the foundations of the original North Bank were being laid in 1913, a coalman's horse and cart ventured too close to the edge and toppled in. The animal could not be saved and was destroyed. It was buried where it lay.

However, no equine remains were discovered when the North Bank was redeveloped in 1992, seemingly scuppering this part of Highbury heritage.

Further to Arsenal’s move to Emirates Stadium, the development of the Club’s old stadium into Highbury Square meant further digging was necessary. And, deep below the surface, workmen from main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, discovered two horseshoes alongside the remains of some timber, believed to be the cart.

Pat Brennan, the workman who discovered the artefacts said: "We were digging at the north end of the site, where we are excavating for the foundations of the Highbury Square apartments and discovered what looked like two rusty old horseshoes. I took them to the site offices and one of the lads, who is an Arsenal fan, mentioned the story about the horse. It’s great to think that I may have found some items which have a place in Arsenal’s history."

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