6.2.6 Husbandry and economy


The fragmentary remains of the mandibular tooth rows made it difficult to assign them to specific mandible wear stages (Grant 1982). Instead, they were assigned to the general age categories suggested by O'Connor (1988) on the basis of each mandible's highest possible wear stage. Table 41 shows that ‘elderly' beasts dominated the assemblage. The rest of the sample is dominated by adult individuals, with only four mandibles from younger animals.

AgeNo. %
Juvenile3 12
Sub-adult1 4
Adult 6 23
Elderly16 61
Table 41: Summary of cattle mandible age data from Welton Road, Brough

A similar pattern is shown by the tiny sample of unfused long bones. Fourteen percent of bones which are known to fuse between 2-3 years were unfused. Most of the post-cranial bones are from skeletally adult animals. The predominance of older individuals is best interpreted as the result of cattle being used as multi-purpose animals, providing traction, beef and milk.


In contrast with cattle, there was a larger and more complete sample of caprovid mandibles enabling a more accurate kill-off pattern to be produced. Figure 68 and Table 42 show the number of caprovids in relation to their age category (Payne 1973).

Age stage % mandibles % survival No.
A (0-2 months) 0 100 0
B (2-6 months) 2 98 1
C (6-12 months) 17 81 9
D (1-2 years) 12 69 6
E (2-3 years) 39 30 20
F (3-4 years) 16 14 8
G (4-6 years) 10 4 5
H (6-8 years) 4 0 2
Table 42: Welton Road, Brough: summary of caprovid mandibular age data

figure 68
Fig.68: Welton Road, Brough: caprovid kill-off pattern

This shows that most animals were killed between the ages of two and three years, with 33% of the flock killed one year either side of this. As with the cattle, this indicates multi-purpose husbandry, with a concern for primary and secondary products, such as meat, wool and milk. It is significant that few animals survived much beyond four years old, possibly indicating that meat was valued more highly than wool. The small number of older animals presumably represent the breeding stock. The data from the limb bones are less easy to interpret, although a similar pattern to that deduced from the mandible wear stages can be detected (Table 43).

1 year 1.5-2.5 years 3-3.5 years
fused unfused fused unfused fused unfused
24 2 30 13 2 7
% of total 8%  30%  77%
Table 43: Welton Road, Brough: summary of caprovid fusion data

There are insufficient data to make any meaningful comments about the age at death of the pigs and horses.


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Last updated: Tue Nov 28 2000