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9.2.4 Conclusions

The prevalence of domestic fowl and goose and large fish of the cod family is common to all Aberdeen sites investigated to date (Cameron and Stones 2001, 277-8).

The wide variety of fish species found at some British urban sites is not repeated here. Although some small species have been recovered herring and eel are absent even from the (admittedly few) sieved samples. The acid soil conditions in Aberdeen are not conducive to good preservation of bone but the presence of salmon as well as the small species implies that herring and eel should have been recovered from soil samples if present. The continuing absence of these two economically important species remains a puzzle as they were recovered from medieval deposits at Edinburgh Castle (Coy and Hamilton-Dyer 1997, mf 2: D4-D7; McCormick et al. 1997).

The town appears to have been heavily involved in processing large Gadidae with little interest in other species. The most similar site with large assemblages is that of Dublin. Small assemblages from the Scottish east coast are also comparable (Hamilton-Dyer et al. 1993, Hamilton-Dyer 1996).

As at other Aberdeen sites the cod and ling bones are from large specimens. Several of the haddock are, however, smaller than those usually recovered but this may be in part a result of the improved recovery of smaller bones at this site.

Much of the fish bone is from the sieved pit AND north of the church, associated with the building of the church. In contrast the bird bones from this pit, and the whole of the church area, are very few. The small passerine is the only one reported from Aberdeen material. This bone was retrieved by sieving and it is unlikely that it could have been collected by hand owing to its small size.

Most of the bird bones in the assemblage are from the foundation trench of one of the walls of the West Range, AAP. This deposit included building demolition material and may represent clearance and levelling of the area. The bone assemblage may contain both contemporary material and bones from activity associated with the previous building. The inclusion of kitchen and plate waste is likely. It may be significant that the proportion of bird to fish bones in Aberdeen varies from site to site (Cameron and Stones 2001, 276-81) but has never exceeded the amount of fish as it does here. The variety of species is also higher, perhaps in part as a result of the increased sample size; but it could also reflect the status of the inhabitants as the game birds and waders would probably have been regarded as more desirable than the standard fare of fowl and goose.


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