Animals formed an essential part of urban life in England from Medieval times onwards, economically, socially, and ecologically. As livestock, they provided meat and other carcass resources, traction power, wool, and dairy produce. The close integration of livestock with everyday urban life is reflected in the ubiquity of butchered cattle, and sheep and pig bones, and the sight, sound, and smell of livestock would have been everyday experiences. Horses are probably under-represented in the animal bone record, given their likely importance as pack and riding animals. Poultry and, later, rabbits were important as livestock that poorer households could raise and trade. Other animals provided companionship, although the differentiation of companion animals is not unproblematic. The commensal scavengers such as crows and rodents were a central element of the urban scene, becoming stigmatized as ‘vermin’ at least by the sixteenth century.
Health and Well-Being: The Contribution of the Study of Human Remains to Understanding the Late Medieval Period in Britain
Charlotte Roberts, Jelena Bekvalac, and Rebecca C. Redfern
This chapter outlines the contributions bioarchaeology has made to understanding health and well-being in the late medieval period in Britain. Some of the history of the study of medieval bodies is followed by a commentary on the evidence base used to consider health and disease, integrated with contextual data, and the limitations of the data. This is followed by a focus on the largest excavated and well-studied cemetery site globally, to date (St Mary Spital, London). It also discusses the bioarchaeological field, including training and standards, advances in analytical techniques (biomolecular), the need for context in studies, and future developments.
Finbar McCormick and Emily Murray
This paper presents an overview of the main trends in animal exploitation in the Medieval period in Ireland as revealed by the zooarchaeological data. Cattle dominated the farming economy and diet throughout the period with dairying being their principal role. Sheep are consistently present. The growth of the wool trade after the Anglo-Norman conquest is evident in assemblages from the east and southeast, though it is not a strong trend with their use as a source of meat persisting throughout the Medieval period. An urban–rural dichotomy is also evident in the exploitation of pigs, goats, cats, dogs, and domestic poultry. The native Irish clearly took little interest in the exploitation of wild animals, unlike the Anglo-Normans for whom the consumption and hunting of game played an important role.