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The zooarchaeology of the Anglo-Saxon Christian conversion: Lyminge, a case study

Knapp, Z. (2019) The zooarchaeology of the Anglo-Saxon Christian conversion: Lyminge, a case study. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00084806


The study of human-animal relationships in their myriad forms has the potential to answer some of the most fundamental questions relating to human behaviour and cultural identity. It is therefore surprising that zooarchaeology has rarely been utilised to its full potential to inform on the significant changes that took place over the course of the Anglo-Saxon period, with analysis seldom moving beyond socio-economic interpretations of animal husbandry. The large, well-dated zooarchaeological assemblage from Anglo-Saxon Lyminge, Kent, offers an exceptional opportunity to examine how human-animal relationships were shaped and reconfigured by key historical processes encapsulated by a 500-year occupation sequence. Lyminge is a high-status Anglo-Saxon settlement of international importance, incorporating a fifth – sixth century settlement, which developed into a seventh century hall-complex, and finally evolved into a spatially distinct documented eighth – ninth century pre-Viking monastery (Thomas 2017). This thesis presents the results of the zooarchaeological analysis and interpretation of the faunal assemblage from Lyminge, adopting an integrated multi-disciplinarily approach which includes the results of a small-scale isotope study of the faunal remains. Thesis data is contextualised within a broader synthesis of archaeological and zooarchaeological data from contemporary sites to assess how shifts in animal husbandry, attitudes to the wild, treatment of companion animals and the consumption of food, reflect changing world-views on both a site-based and regional scale. The results of this analysis indicate that there were distinct diachronic trends in species representation and, in the case of domesticated animals, management strategies, that coincide with Lyminge’s transformation from a pre-Christian royal vill into an affluent monastic community. These transformations are particularly evident in the shift from the consumption of large quantities of pigs in the fifth – seventh century to the consumption of high numbers of chicken in the eighth – ninth century, a change that is accompanied by more intensive sheep husbandry and a new focus on arable agriculture. Such dramatic shifts in dietary patterns identified through innovative zooarchaeological research reflect wider changes in cultural practices and religious affiliations of the Kentish elite at a pivotal moment in the formation of Christian kingdoms throughout Anglo-Saxon England.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Thomas, G.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:84806
Date on Title Page:2018


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