The Social Significance of Cattle in Early Neolithic Southern Britain

  • Lara Bishop

Student thesis: Phd


This research project has focused on exploring the relationship between people and cattle, and other animals, in Early Neolithic southern Britain. Cattle remains have been proven to be deposited at a range of sites dating to this period, from the early transitional stage of the period to the more established phase of long barrow and causewayed enclosure construction. Detailed re-assessment of published faunal reports from six sites dating to the earliest Neolithic has indicated that cattle comprise a major component of assemblages from the beginning of the period and that, with the exception of one site, the lack of significant amounts of other animals has highlighted just how large the disparity is between the deposition of cattle remains and those of other animals. Detailed re-assessment of thirty earthen and stone chambered long barrow reports was also undertaken and the depositional practices at these two types of site compared with each other and the earliest Neolithic sites. Although there are clear and obvious differences in the depositional practices at these sites, due largely to the purpose for which they were used, this study has demonstrated that the animals that comprise these assemblages show a continuity throughout this period. The faunal assemblages from three causewayed enclosures were assessed. In these contexts cattle comprised an even greater proportion of the assemblage than at the other sites and when combined with the other domestic species, pig and sheep/goat, formed almost the entirety of the assemblage. Cattle appear to be intricately involved with the lives of people at this time, possibly because their natural characteristics align well with the lifeways of people during this period.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJulian Thomas (Supervisor) & Chantal Conneller (Supervisor)


  • Early Neolithic
  • Cattle

Cite this