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Diversity in foddering strategy and herd management in late Bronze Age Britain: an isotopic investigation of pigs and other fauna from two midden sites

Madgwick, Richard, Mulville, Jacqueline and Stevens, Rhiannon E. 2012. Diversity in foddering strategy and herd management in late Bronze Age Britain: an isotopic investigation of pigs and other fauna from two midden sites. Environmental Archaeology 17 (2) , pp. 126-140. 10.1179/1461410312Z.00000000011

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Abstract

Middens of the southern British late Bronze and Iron Age are vast accumulations of cultural debris that can be explained as refuse dumps linked with large periodic feasting events. A distinctive feature of these sites is that their faunal assemblages invariably comprise a considerably higher proportion of pig remains than contemporaneous settlement sites. This paper presents results from a programme of stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis of fauna from two major midden sites, Llanmaes in South Wales and Potterne in Wiltshire. The research aim is to reconstruct husbandry strategies and foddering regimes, particularly concerning pigs, to better understand how the challenges of raising large herds were met. Analysis produced exceptionally wide-ranging results for pigs and other domesticates at both sites, particularly in terms of δ15N values, demonstrating that diverse foddering strategies were employed. Diversity in the late Bronze Age pig foddering regimes indicates that the Neolithic husbandry practices (focusing on woodland fodder) had not been abandoned, but that new husbandry methods (consumption of household waste) were also being practised, which subsequently became more widely established in the Iron Age. The heterogeneity of signatures suggests that animals may have been husbanded in a piecemeal fashion at a local, household level. This in turn hints that fauna may have been brought to these sites from households across the surrounding landscape, rather than being husbanded by specialist producers in the vicinity of the middens

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Publisher: Association for Environmental Archaeology.
ISSN: 1461-4103
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2019 22:20
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/39751

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