University of Leicester
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Butchery and intra-site spatial analysis of animal bone : a case study from Danebury Hillfort, Hampshire, England

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:42 authored by Stephanie Claire Knight
This thesis explores the questions of status divisions, specialised activity and task areas, meat consumption, ritual and structured deposition, and addresses a main theme: what was the status of hillforts in the Iron Age. The basis of the study was to analyse the potential of butchery and intra-site spatial patterning of animal bone to aid interpretation of specialisation and status distinctions on archaeological sites. The Iron Age hillfort at Danebury was chosen as a case study for this project. Danebury has a large sample size, continuous area of excavation and full butchery and location records. Butchery analysis defined which bones were found in which butchery 'units', and their positions could then be plotted using a Geographic Information System. Some individual deposits were also examined for temporal differences in bone elements and associations through manual investigation of several individual pits. Results suggested that despite the apparently specialised nature of butchery techniques, activities could not be directly inferred from deposits, and that some time or distance had elapsed between butchery, consumption and deposition. However, the most likely scenario to explain the complex deposition pattern was that meat eating was small-scale and periodic. Since the distance between butchery, consumption and deposition was substantial, deposition may in fact have been the activity that tells us most about the community. Thus there was no evidence for different 'functional areas'. Nearby sites excavated during the Danebury Environs project were also investigated, and evidence from butchery techniques and deposition patterns used to compare their status to that of Danebury. Recommendations for further work are made, including application of the methodologies presented on sites that show clear evidence of divisions (e.g. Manching), to enable the development and extent of specialist industries in the Iron Age to be ascertained.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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