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An investigation of the origins of cattle and aurochs deposited in the Early Bronze Age barrows at Gayhurst and Irthlingborough

Towers, J.; Montgomery, J.; Evans, J.; Jay, M.; Pearson, M.P.

An investigation of the origins of cattle and aurochs deposited in the Early Bronze Age barrows at Gayhurst and Irthlingborough Thumbnail


J. Towers

J. Evans

M. Jay

M.P. Pearson


The Early Bronze Age round barrows at Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire and Gayhurst, Buckinghamshire contained remarkably large quantities of cattle (Bos taurus) remains. At Irthlingborough, at least 185 skulls with smaller numbers of mandibles, shoulder blades and pelves were found together with a small number of skeletal elements from aurochs (Bos primigenius). In contrast, the remains from Gayhurst are dominated by the limb bones from more than 300 animals. This study employed strontium isotope ratio analysis of cattle tooth enamel from 15 cattle and one aurochs to investigate the diversity of the animals' origins at both sites and provide insights into Early Bronze Age funerary practices. Although strontium results show that most of the cattle and the aurochs included in this study were consistent with local origins, one animal from each barrow was born remotely, most likely in western Britain. In addition, a second Gayhurst animal was consistent with origins in a region of chalk rather than the local Jurassic sediments.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2010
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2011
Publicly Available Date Jan 17, 2014
Journal Journal of Archaeological Science
Print ISSN 0305-4403
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 3
Pages 508-515
Keywords Strontium, Isotope analysis, Tooth enamel, TIMS, Intra-tooth sampling, Progressive mineralization pattern, Strontium isotope ratios, Tooth enamel, Bovile enamel, SR-87/SR-86, Stonehenge, Resolution, Chemistry, Migration, Histology.
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Accepted Journal Article (566 Kb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of archaeological science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of archaeological science, 37,3, 20 2010, 10.1016/j.jas.2009.10.012

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