Animal bones from Anglo-Scandinavian York

Animal bones from Anglo-Scandinavian York

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Animal bones from Anglo-Scandinavian York

By T.O. O’Connor

Aspects of Anglo-Scandinavian York. The Archaeology of York, Vol.8:4 (2004)

Introduction: This chapter provides an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding vertebrate animals in and around York in the Anglo-Scandinavian period. The great majority of the available evidence derives from 16-22 Coppergate (AY 15/3), with smaller amounts of data from a number of excavations around the city.

The aim is not to describe the data at length, but to review the information inferred from those data under several thematic headings. Examination of the material from Coppergate began as the excavation neared its end, early in the 1980s. At that time, our knowledge of urban zooarchaeology in Britain rested on just a few major studies (e.g. Exeter, Maltby 1979; Southampton, Bourdillon and Coy 1980; Baynards Castle, London, Armitage 1977), and little or nothing was known about Anglo-Scandinavian husbandry. The intervening 30 years has seen the publication of many substantial assemblages from 8th- to 15th century urban contexts across northern Europe (e.g. Birka, Ericson et al. 1988; Ribe, Hatting 1991; Waterford, McCormick 1997; Lubeck, Rheingans and Reichstein 1991; Compiegne, Yvinec 1997). With that increasing information has come some shift in emphasis from data such as the relative abundance of different taxa and changes through time, to more thematic questions of supply and demand, and the value of animal bones in discussions on the emergence of towns and their associated social structures (e.g. Bourdillon 1984; O’Connor 1994; Crabtree 1990).

This review therefore revisits previously published material, and incorporates additional data in a synthesis of evidence from York as a whole, and in regional comparisons. Practical methods are not discussed at length here: they are detailed by site in the appropriate fascicules of AY 15/1-5, and reviewed in AY 19/2.

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