Changing Human-Animal Interactions in post-Roman Britain: Can We Detect Socio-Economic and Cultural Change?
The nature of transition from Roman Britain to early Medieval England is a long-standing debate in history and archaeology. Traditional interpretations of gradual Roman societal decline predominated until the early 1980s, shifting more recently to a concept of dramatic social collapse and identifiable discontinuity, with differing interpretations of the nature of regional-level change in Britain. While these socio-economic theories have been led by historical research, archaeologists are starting to play a more active role in the debate.
This project explores the nature of human-animal interactions in England between AD 350-650, synthesising data from hundreds of disparate published faunal assemblages for the first time. Data will be mined through a meta-analysis to inform on economic and social transition from Roman to early Medieval England at both regional and national levels.
The project will address these research questions:
- What roles did animals have within the economy, with emphasis on redistribution and mode of production?
- What is the nature of wild and domestic animal use at English settlement and funerary sites, with focus on temporal and regional trends?
- How were animals used socially and symbolically in terms of status and cosmology?
A wide-ranging analysis of faunal data for the period is vital for considering economic and social change in post-Roman England. This project aims to demonstrate how zooarchaeological material can reveal much more about human-animal interactions than simply what was being eaten.