Deer and Humans in south Wales during the Roman and Medieval Periods

This source preferred by Mark Maltby

Authors: Maltby, M. and Hambleton, E.

Start date: 8 September 2011

Although substantial amounts of information about the past distribution and exploitation of different species of deer in the British Isles have been accumulated over recent decades, there has not been a recent review of the evidence from Wales. This paper aims to redress this. It will incorporate evidence from a number of important excavations carried out during the last 30 years, including the Roman fort at Caerwent, the Roman town of Caerleon, Laugharne Castle and other medieval castles in southern Wales. Deer bones form only a small proportion of the Roman assemblages but there is evidence to show that both red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) were hunted. Butchery evidence from Caerwent suggests that some red deer were processed by specialist butchers resident in the town. The faunal assemblages from the medieval sites contrast with many of those from post-Norman high status sites in England in that there is a virtual absence of fallow deer (Dama dama). In contrast, red deer bones have been found in abundance in some of the Welsh castle assemblages, which display the usual biases towards bones of the upper hind limbs. Roe deer bones are less abundant but have been found in sufficient numbers to indicate that they were also commonly hunted. The paper will discuss the social implications of the archaeological evidence and review these in relation to aspects of documentary evidence relating to the distribution of different deer species and deer parks in south Wales.

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