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The Bones at Binchester: An Exploration of Military and Civilian Identity through a Zooarchaeological Study of Cattle Remains from a Late Roman Fort and Vicus

CLEGG, CAMERON,BURGESS (2017) The Bones at Binchester: An Exploration of Military and Civilian Identity through a Zooarchaeological Study of Cattle Remains from a Late Roman Fort and Vicus. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The interrelationship between forts and their attached vici during the Late Roman Period is still not fully understood, particularly in the North of Britannia. Furthermore, the Late/sub-Roman transitional period remains a nebulous topic of archaeological investigation, obfuscated not only by
a dearth of dateable artefacts, but also by a paucity of large-scale research focusing on this time period.

The site of Binchester, located in Bishop Auckland, is ideal for providing unique insight into both of these areas. Binchester shows evidence of continuous occupation through the Late Roman Period and into the 6th century, providing insight into the Late/sub-Roman transitional period. Furthermore, the current project features the simultaneous excavation within both fort and vicus, yielding large amounts of cultural material from each location.

Among the finds recovered from both areas are robust assemblages of animal bones of Late Roman date, with the likely presence of sub-Roman inclusions. These faunal remains, particularly the cattle bone, representing a majority in both assemblages, provide a unique window into the practices, exchange and interrelatedness of the fort and vicus inhabitants, giving insight into the convergence or divergence of identity between these two areas.

Morphological analysis of the species representation and utilisation of cattle resources at the fort and vicus suggests a surprising degree of similarity in practice between the fort and vicus, suggesting a high degree of social cohesion and a shared, if not identical, identity in both areas. Metric analysis of recovered cattle elements, conversely, indicates a distinction in identity between
fort and vicus, providing evidence of the preferential provisioning of larger, likely castrated, cattle
within the fort. Comparison between sites across a range of site functions, locations and chronological dates revealed a widespread trend of larger cattle within military sites, with civilian or urban sites seeing fewer likely castrates. This cross-site comparison also shows a great deal of
morphological and metric similarity between Late and sub-Roman cattle populations, indicating a continuity of practice and maintenance of local control.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:PhD; Archaeology; Zooarchaeology; Archaeo-zoology; Binchester; Cattle; Late Roman Britain; Roman Britain; Morphometric Analysis;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2017 12:30

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