Woods and the Wild

Naomi Sykes

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Woods and the Wild

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This article shows that hunting was a favourite pastime of the aristocracy in Anglo-Saxon England. It also describes how and why the relationship between humans and wild animals changed through the course of the Anglo-Saxon period. Poor representation of wild animals in fifth- to seventh-century domestic assemblages promotes an impression of a landscape devoid of wildlife; however, the evidence from non-anthropogenic deposits paints a different picture. The association between haga, hunting, and the elite is demonstrated well by Faccombe Netherton in Hampshire. A facade of egalitarianism was maintained into the mid Saxon period when, it seems, wild mammals were hunted communally and the meat redistributed accordingly. By the late Saxon period, historical, iconographic, and archaeological evidence all indicate a new emphasis on ‘property’: that the ability to consume animals derived from hunting, fowling, and fishing had become something of a metaphor for ownership of land, water, and shore.

Keywords: hunting; aristocracy; Anglo-Saxon England; humans; wild animals; fowling; fishing; egalitarianism

Article.  7691 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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