“Is the big wheeled horse cart at the Ozark Medieval Fortress really authentic?” You bet. I’ve talked about the wheels separately. The big wheeled cart we use actually came from France and the design is not only very European and Medieval, but dates back to the Romans. It shows good engineering, excellent use of carpentry skills and the well-developed Roman knowledge of blacksmithing. Two wheeled carts are pictured even before the Romans in Assyrian and Greek writings.
The large wheels allowed the cart to get over holes and rough ground with less chance of getting stuck. The heavy-duty shafts allowed it to be used by draft horses or oxen. The location of the axle balanced the weight of the load so that it was on the wheels, and not all on the animal. The carts were also equipped with brakes, which is important in northern as well as southern Europe because of the hilly terrain. A loaded cart going downhill can push the horse right off the road. Typically, a carter stood in the two wheeled cart when it was empty and walked along side the horse when the cart was full. The brake lever was accessible to the carter either way. By the Medieval, the feature of the hinges to allow the cart to dump had been developed, as had the horse collar which permitted heavier loads.
At the Ozark Medieval Fortress all these features are seen in the French two wheeled cart. This is not foreign to Americans, since the technology was brought to the colonies and used throughout our Westward expansion.