A Review of Animal Bone Evidence from the Saxon to Post Medieval Periods in Southern Britain (6145)

Matilda Holmes, 2017

Data copyright © Matilda Holmes unless otherwise stated

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Matilda Holmes (2017) A Review of Animal Bone Evidence from the Saxon to Post Medieval Periods in Southern Britain (6145) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1047191


A Review of Animal Bone Evidence from the Saxon to Post Medieval Periods in Southern Britain (6145)


Searchable records of the zooarchaeological dataset that forms the basis for ‘Southern England: a review of animal remains from Saxon, medieval and post-medieval archaeological sites’ are presented here. The review provides a synthesis of data for each of the major periods (Saxon, medieval and post-medieval) based on the primary themes of food, symbolic and social exploitation, animal husbandry, redistribution of animals and animal products, and inter-site analysis. Findings are then considered in terms of more specific temporal trends relating to the key ideas around the provisioning of sites, visibility of social hierarchies through food and symbolism, changes in the local fauna resulting from introductions, over-hunting and extirpations, economic uses of animals, the effect of increasing urbanisation, and regional differences. Other, more specific, themes relate to the visibility of the agricultural revolution, coastal exploitation, and diet.

Geographical Scope

Data are incorporated from the government-defined regions of south-east and south-west England: Berkshire, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Kent, London (Middlesex), Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, East and West Sussex, and Wiltshire (see image for location of sites in the dataset).

Criteria for inclusion

Zooarchaeological reports derive largely from published material available as specialist commentaries in excavation reports, although unpublished reports were also occasionally included. They were considered suitable for inclusion based on the following criteria:

  • Dated between the early Saxon (AD 450) to post-medieval (AD 1900) periods
  • From the geographical area described above
  • Assemblages of over 100 fragments identified to the major domesticates (cattle, sheep/ goat and pig).

Summary of the dataset

The dataset comprises 656 individual records from 323 sites (a single site may have more than one record for different phases). Records include the basic data for each site, the full reference and quantification of mammals, birds and fish. Mammal, bird and amphibian bones from hand-collection and/or sieving may be found in the Species table and Samples table, while fish bones from hand-collection and/or sieving are found only in the Species table. Where further data are available (ageing, sexing, body parts, butchery and metrical) they are presented as summaries.

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