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Anglo-Saxon animal husbandry techniques revealed through isotope and chemical variations in cattle teeth

By Jane Evans, S. Tatham, Simon Chenery and Carolyn Chenery


The Sr concentration and isotope composition of tooth enamel from domesticated animals from two neighbouring Anglo-Saxon settlements, at Empingham (6–7th century) and Ketton (10–12th century) in Rutland, central England, are compared both with each other, and with associated human populations. Data from the Empingham II site form discrete fields in Sr concentration and isotope composition space for cattle, pig and sheep with a partial overlap of the human and pig fields. By contrast there is significant overlap in all the animal and human data fields from the Ketton site. The differences in data distribution between the two sites are attributed to animal husbandry techniques, as the surface geology of the two areas is very similar, implying geological factors are an unlikely cause of the difference. It is suggested that the grazing and feeding patterns of animals at the Empingham II site were controlled and restricted, whereas at the Ketton site the animals grazed and foraged freely over a common area.\ud \ud Strontium isotope variation within cattle molars from the two settlements show marked differences that reflect the nature of their feeding and rearing. The enamel from a cattle molar from the Empingham II site has a well-defined, systematic variation of Sr isotope composition with Sr concentration, whereas no such patterns exist in a comparable cattle molar from Ketton. Chemical and O isotope variations in the cattle tooth from Empingham II show sympathetic variation of Sr and Ba concentrations with Sr isotope composition from cusp to cervix. The cusp has higher Sr and Ba concentrations log (Sr/Ca) ratio of −3.1 and 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0.71151 where as the cervical region of the enamel has log (Sr/Ca) = −3.3 and 87Sr/86Sr = 0.71061.\u

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.03.059
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