First Thursday Talk: The Horse and Cultural Identity in 1st millennium AD Britain

Cross20160114ArchaeoHorseTalkPoster-PSUSlide (1) (1)Thursday, January 14th, 4:00 PM

SMSU 298

Pamela Cross, PhD Researcher

“…they will know us by our horses, by our habits and by every other appointment….” William Shakespeare, 16th century, Henry IV, part 1, scene 2.

 “These islanders …they enter battle on foot.they do not even know  what a horse is…for it is clear that this animal has in no time lived in Brittia. Procopius of Caesarea, 6th century AD, History of the Wars

 Bioarchaeology uses many of the techniques familiar from popular forensics TV programs to examine people and animals from the past. During this project many of the techniques applied to horses were re-examined and corrected after extensive horse anatomical and pathology studies. The techniques were then used to evaluate the role of the horse in 1st millennium AD Britain. Some interesting, and perhaps surprising, clues about early British and Roman interactions, and the real roots of English culture may be tied events in cultures based in Hungary and the Black Sea. So perhaps there was a good portion of Hun along with the Germannic/Scandinavian invaders?!



With undergraduate degrees in History and Animals Science, I received my MSc in Human Osteology and Palaeopathology in 2008 and am now completing my PhD in Bioarchaeology. The PhD project is part of a planned longer project investigating human-horse relationships in the past, particulary those expressed in funerary contexts.  Funding for this initial project was provided by AHRC Collaborative Grant with Grant partners: the National Trust, the Sutton Hoo Society, Bernard Cornwell (Author) & the Museum of London (LARCC). Additional support came from SYNTHESYS and the Hungarian Natural History and National Museums.


Cross, P. J. 2011. – Horse Burial in First Millennium AD Britain: Issues of Deposition. European Journal of Archaeology 14(1-2): 190-209.

Cross, P. J. 2012. – The ritual of horse burial – Sutton Hoo and beyond. Saxon 55(July): 8-10.

Cross, P. J. & Wright, R. (2015) The nikumaroro bones identification controversy: First-hand examination versus evaluation by proxy – amelia earhart found or still missing? Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 3, 53-59.



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