Priscilla, Pheasants and Publication

Regular training sessions for both staff and volunteers are an important part of the Trendles Project and on the 11th March we were pleased to invite our animal bone specialist Priscilla Lange back to talk to us about how she prepares animal bone reports for publication. The bones we are analysing at the moment are from the Roman period, with the majority from animals that have been domesticated for food, sheep being particularly popular, but also cattle and pig. Occasional finds of deer bones show that hunting occurred on a very small scale and we can also see that horse, dog and possibly cat were present around the site during that period. We have been intrigued to find what we think are pheasant bones amongst the bones recovered from Trench 18, the area of shops and food stalls directly outside the temple. Priscilla confirmed that the Romans were responsible for introducing pheasants into Britain and they are usually associated with high status sites, which of course Trendles is.

Priscilla will look in detail at the bones we are identifying from the Roman and Iron Age periods, calculating the minimum number of individuals for each species across each trench to see if diet changed over time and, where possible, the age at death. If lots of very young animals are in the assemblage then dairying might have been important, if the animals were killed just as they reached their prime then they were probably being raised for meat, and the cuts of meat the bones represent will tell us something about the prosperity of the site. It might also be possible to determine what activities were taking place. Amongst the bones we are finding bone tools, fragments of bone pins and off-cuts from bone-working and perhaps we will be able to determine the location of small workshops.   We still have a long way to go, but already the bones, along with all the other finds from Marcham, are beginning to show how the story of life and lifestyle in Iron Age and Roman Marcham might unfold.