Isotopic biographies reveal horse rearing and trading networks in medieval London

Pryor, Alexander J. E., Ameen, Carly, Liddiard, Robert, Baker, Gary, Kanne, Katherine, Milton, J. Andy, Standish, Christopher D., Hambach, Bastian, Orlando, Ludovic, Chauvey, Lorelei, Schiavinato, Stephanie, Calviere-Tonasso, Laure, Tressières, Gaetan, Wagner, Stefanie, Southon, John, Shapiro, Beth, Pipe, Alan, Creighton, Oliver H. and Outram, Alan K. (2024) Isotopic biographies reveal horse rearing and trading networks in medieval London. Science Advances, 10 (12). ISSN 2375-2548

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This paper reports a high-resolution isotopic study of medieval horse mobility, revealing their origins and in-life mobility both regionally and internationally. The animals were found in an unusual horse cemetery site found within the City of Westminster, London, England. Enamel strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotope analysis of 15 individuals provides information about likely place of birth, diet, and mobility during the first approximately 5 years of life. Results show that at least seven horses originated outside of Britain in relatively cold climates, potentially in Scandinavia or the Western Alps. Ancient DNA sexing data indicate no consistent sex-specific mobility patterning, although three of the five females came from exceptionally highly radiogenic regions. Another female with low mobility is suggested to be a sedentary broodmare. Our results provide direct and unprecedented evidence for a variety of horse movement and trading practices in the Middle Ages and highlight the importance of international trade in securing high-quality horses for medieval London elites.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: HORIZON EUROPE European Research Council: Horsepower ERC-2022-SyG 101071707; Arts and Humanities Research Council: UK AH/S000380/1; European Research Council: PEGASUS ERC-2015-CoG 681605; CNRS and University Paul Sabatier: AnimalFarm IRP.
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Landscape History
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Medieval History
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2024 15:39
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 08:30
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj5782


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