It was the largest known equine burial ground in Europe, although chief archaeologist Angela Simons said Wednesday that many such sites have probably existed and have been plowed up over the centuries by unwitting farmers.
The archaeological team had been looking for evidence of prehistoric human settlements in the area when they came across the unexpected find.
“From the first shovel, it was horses, horses and more horses,” said Angela Simons, of the Hazenberg company, which was employed by the Dutch government to survey the ground ahead of a construction project.
The horses showed signs of being buried quickly: their bodies were not carefully arranged, and the skeletons occasionally overlap.
“It’s easy to imagine this is how cavalry men might dispose of dead mounts in war time,” Simons said. Disease or a plague could not be ruled out.