Animal Husbandry

Terry O'Connor

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

Animal Husbandry

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  • Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology



This article outlines the source material for an archaeological study of Anglo-Saxon animal husbandry, namely the excavated remains of the livestock themselves. Furthermore, the regional and diachronic variation in relative abundance is reviewed, and then addresses what is known regarding the morphology and appearance of Anglo-Saxon livestock. The three main livestock taxa (cattle, sheep, pigs) dominate the zooarchaeological assemblages. Mortality profiles are proxy evidence of husbandry regimes, reflecting the need for, and value placed upon, the diverse resources yielded by farm livestock. The impression that is acquired of animal husbandry through the Anglo-Saxon centuries is that mixed farming was carried on throughout eastern England, generally quite successfully, with minor local adaptations. There is little indication that pastoral systems were under particular stress, and clear evidence that cattle and sheep, though certainly slaughtered for meat, were not primarily raised for that purpose.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon animal husbandry; archaeological study; cattle; sheep; pigs; zooarchaeological assemblages; mortality

Article.  7027 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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