In equids, bovine papillomaviruses of type 1 (BPV-1) and less frequently type 2 induce common, locally aggressive skin tumours termed sarcoids. Whereas BPV infection in cattle usually involves the epidermis and is productive in this skin layer, infection in equids is currently thought to be abortive, with virus solely residing as multiple episomes in dermal fibroblasts. Based on recent observations that do not agree with this assumption, we hypothesised that BPV also infects equid epidermis and is active in this skin layer. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a proof-of-principle study on eight distinct sarcoids. Presence of viral DNA was addressed by qualitative and quantitative BPV-1 PCR from microdissected sarcoid epidermis, and by subsequent amplicon sequencing. Viral activity was assessed by screening sarcoid epidermis for BPV-1 protein expression using immunohistochemistry (IHC) or immunofluorescence (IF). Virus-free equine skin served as negative control throughout the assays. BPV-1 DNA was demonstrated in all sarcoid epidermis samples, with viral DNA loads ranging between 2 and 195 copies/cell. Identical BPV-1 E5 genes were identified in epidermis and dermis of each of two sarcoids, yet different E5 variants were found in individual lesions. IHC/IF revealed the presence of E5 and E7 protein in sarcoid epidermis, and L1 capsomers in the squamous layer of one lesion. These findings indicate that BPV infection also involves the epidermis, where it may occasionally be productive.