9.1.6 Size of Animals

Anatomical measurements were made on the bones wherever possible. A summary of results is shown in Tables 53-62 (Table 53, Table 54, Table 55, Table 56, Table 57, Table 58, Table 59, Table 60, Table 61, Table 62). The bones were separated into medieval and post-medieval groupings, using the same criteria as for long bone ages, above. The size ranges of the domestic animals from both 12 Martin's Lane and the Green are consistent with those from other medieval sites in Scotland, particularly the large assemblage from Perth High Street, Marks and Spencer site (Hodgson 1983).

All of the Aberdeen Carmelite medieval and post-medieval cattle bones fell within the Perth High Street ranges, as did all but one of the sheep/goat bones. This was a medieval proximal femur whose breadth exceeded the Perth measurement by 3.7mm, although this may be because only one Perth measurement was available.

Individual sheep long bones which survived in an intact condition allowed estimations of withers (shoulder) heights to be made, based on Teichert's (1975) factors. Four medieval animals from the Green were estimated to range from 56.1-63.1cm high at the shoulder. Three post-medieval sheep from the Green and two from 12 Martin's Lane ranged from 51.6-60.6cm high. All of these measurements fell within the withers height ranges for medieval sheep found at Perth High Street (Hodgson et al. 2011).

Although the sample sizes from the Carmelite Friary were small, there appeared to be no detectable differences in the sizes of sheep/goats and cattle between the medieval and post-medieval periods. Previous work in Aberdeen, for example at Gallowgate Middle School and at Castle Street, appears to support this premise, but as yet, assemblages of post-medieval date have consisted of relatively small samples of measurable bones which it has not been possible to test statistically. It is of course possible that some of the bones attributed to the post-medieval period come from disturbed deposits and represent a mixture of material of early and later date, although not even the most recent material from this site comes close to the size of modern 20th century animals.

While it seems that the effects of the Improvements of the agricultural revolution are not apparent in Scottish archaeological material until the early modern period (possibly as late as the mid-19th century), there is some evidence that increases in the size of domestic livestock, particularly cattle, can be detected at a much earlier date in material from the south of England (Albarella and Davis 1996, 42-8).

Horn cores, which indicate something of the appearance of the live animal, were unfortunately rare at the site. A few sheep horn cores survived in a fragmentary condition; these seem to have come from two-horned animals, rather than the four-horned type which has occasionally been found at other medieval sites in Aberdeen and Perth. One sheep skull from the Green, however, came from a hornless or polled animal, although tiny horn scars or rudiments were apparent on the frontal bones (Area B, Phase 2a). Evidence from goat horn cores indicated a female animal and possibly two young kids (Area B, Phase 2a) were present at the Green.

Articulating dog bones (a humerus and radius) recovered from 12 Martin's Lane came from an animal of about 35.4cm at the shoulder, based on Harcourt's (1974) factors. This is a not a large dog; for the sake of comparison, a modern fox terrier stands at about 37-39cm high.


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