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date: 08 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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

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