Birds in Subsistence and Culture at Viking Age Sites in Denmark

Authors

  • A. B. Gotfredsen

    Corresponding author
    1. Natural History Museum of Denmark, Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    • Correspondence to: Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5–7, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.

      e-mail: abgotfredsen@snm.ku.dk

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ABSTRACT

This paper reviews the evidence for consumption and use of birds at Danish Viking Age sites. The presence and diversity of wild and domestic bird species were studied on the basis of the avian material retrieved from sites representing a wide range of different habitats covering a period from the Late Germanic Iron Age to early medieval times (ca 5th–12th centuries ad). A large diversity of at least 20 avian families with more than 60 taxa in addition to domestic fowl was documented. Although variation in species diversity and abundance in the assemblages were influenced by recovery methods, some genuine differences emerged regarding site type as well as topographical and geographic variation. Marked differences among avian species within certain bird families were revealed; herons (Ardeidae), birds of prey (Accipitridae), cranes (Gruidae), tetraonids (Tetraonidae) and waders (Scolopacidae) occurred more commonly at certain categories of sites such as high-status manorial and early urban sites. The usage of eagle feathers was evidenced by cut marks on eagle wing bones and falconry was documented at a few high-status sites. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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