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Animal Remains from Wauluds Bank, Luton
© Vida Rajkovańća
The assemblage totalled 133 assessable specimens, recovered from several different
fieldwork seasons. Near complete pig skeleton recovered in 1982 was counted as one
specimen, as it was obvious it had come from one individual. The range of species
was limited to domesticates with only one possible cervid (deer) element. Based on
the relative frequency of species and crude butchery marks performed using cleaver,
the 1966 material appears to be Romano-British in date. Prevalence of cattle and a
strong pig component recorded from the remainder of the assemblage are indicative of
a Neolithic or Late Neolithic date for the assemblage.
1953 excavations
The material showed a great degree of weathering and a number of specimens had
concretions adhering to the surface of the bone. The assemblage is mainly comprised
of livestock species (Table 1). If we look at the skeletal element count, the sub-set is
dominated by loose teeth and tooth fragments (13 loose teeth/ 41.9% of the identified
species count). The assemblage is highly fragmented and denser elements such as
loose teeth survive better. In a complete absence of ageing and biometrical data and
due to the small size of the assemblage, it is not possible to discuss patterns of animal
use.
The material was again weathered and was in many ways similar to the 1953 sub-set.
Of 28 specimens, seven were heavily eroded (25%) and none were butchered. As
evidenced by a single neonate specimen, cattle appeared to have been raised locally or
even on site.
Number of
Species
specimens
Cow
6
Ovicaprid
8
Pig
7
Horse
7
?Red deer
1
Oyster shell
2
Sub-total ID to order and species
31
Cattle-sized
10
Sheep-sized
24
Rodent-sized
1
Mammal n.f.i.
11
Total
77
Table 1. Number of Identified Specimens. The abbreviation n.f.i. denotes that the specimen could not
be further identified.
1966 Watching Brief
The 1966 material was noticeably different from the rest of the assemblage
demonstrating moderate preservation with minimum weathering and surface erosion.
Absence of gnawing marks suggests quick deposition of the assemblage. Butchery
marks were noted on five specimens (18.5%) and all were axially split for marrow
removal. A few clear cleaver marks were noted, suggesting Romano-British or later
date for the assemblage (Seetah 2006). The prevalence of cattle and cattle-sized
elements is another indication of the Roman date (Table 2). It is believed that the
preference for beef has come from the Continent with Roman legions populating
Britain (King 1991, 1999). Beyond listing the species present it is not possible to
consider the assemblage any further.
Number of
Species
Specimens
Cow
Sheep / Goat
Pig
Horse
Sub-total ID to order and species
Cattle-sized
Sheep-sized
Total
Table 2. Number of Identified Specimens from 1966 excavations.
5
2
3
3
13
9
5
27
1982 excavations
A complete pig skeleton is a female, aged between 2 and 6 months. Almost all parts
of carcass are present, with the majority of unfused epiphyses suggesting that the
animal was fleshed (at least partly) when deposited. It was not possible to record any
butchery marks, although this is often the case with juvenile specimens. In addition to
that, it has to be noted that skilled butchers do not have to leave marks.
Bibliography:
Boessneck, J. 1969. Osteological difference between Sheep (Ovis aries Linné) and
Goat (Capra hircus Linné) in Brothwell, D.R. and Higgs, E. (eds.) Science in
Archaeology; a survey of progress and research. Thames Hudson. Bristol.
Dobney, K., and Reilly, K., 1988. A method for recording archaeological animal
bones: the use of diagnostic zones, Circaea 5 (2): 79-96.
Grant A. 1982. The use of tooth wear as a guide to the age of domestic animals, in B.
Wilson, C. Grigson and S. Payne, (eds.), Ageing and sexing animal bones from
archaeological sites.
Halstead, P. Collins, P and Issakidou, V. 2002 Sorting the sheep from the goats:
morphological distinctions between the mandibles and mandibular teeth of adult Ovis
and Capra. Journal of Archaeological Science 29 545-553
King, A. 1991 Food production and consumption- meat in R.F.J. Jones (ed.) Britain in
the Roman period: recent trends. Department of Archaeology and Prehistory
University of Sheffield
King, A., 1999. Diet in the Roman world: a regional inter-site comparison of the
mammal bones, J. Roman Archaeol. 12: 168-202
Payne, S. 1973 ‘Kill-off patterns in sheep and goats: the mandibles from Asvan Kale’,
Anatolian Studies 23, pp.281-303.
Schmid, E. 1972. Atlas of animal bones. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Seetah, K. 2006. ‘Multidisciplinary Approach to Romano-British Cattle Butchery’. In
M. Maltby. Integrating Zooarchaeology. Oxford: Oxbow books, pp. 109-116
Silver I. A., 1969. The ageing of domestic animals, in D. Brothwell and E. Higgs E. S.
(eds.), Science in archaeology, 2nd edition: 283-301. London: Thames and Hudson.
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