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Feasting and mobility in Iron Age Ireland: Multi-isotope analysis reveals the vast catchment of Navan Fort, Ulster

Madgwick, Richard ORCID:, Grimes, Vaughan, Lamb, Angela L., Nederbragt, Alexandra J., Evans, Jane A. and McCormick, Finbar 2019. Feasting and mobility in Iron Age Ireland: Multi-isotope analysis reveals the vast catchment of Navan Fort, Ulster. Scientific Reports 9 (1) , 19792. 10.1038/s41598-019-55671-0

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Navan Fort is an iconic prehistoric Irish ceremonial centre and the legendary capital of Ulster. The fort has produced an exceptional pig-dominated faunal assemblage that also contained a barbary macaque skull. Dating from the 4th to 1st century BC, it is likely to be a ceremonial feasting centre that may have drawn people and their animals from across Ulster and beyond. This study uses a multi-isotope (87Sr/86Sr, δ34S, δ13C, δ15N) approach to identify non-local animals and reconstruct site catchment. New biosphere mapping means that isotope data can be more confidently interpreted and the combination of strontium and sulphur analysis has the potential to estimate origins. In the absence of human remains, fauna provide the best proxy for human movement. Results for the 35 analysed animals are wide-ranging, especially in terms of strontium (0.707–0.715), which has the largest range for an Irish site. Sulphur values are more restricted (13.1‰−17.1‰) but are high in the context of British and Irish data. Results provide clear evidence for animals (and thus people) coming from across Ulster and beyond, demonstrating the site’s wide catchment. Navan Fort was clearly a major ceremonial centre with far-reaching influence and hosted feasts that drew people and animals from afar.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 January 2020
Date of Acceptance: 25 November 2019
Last Modified: 09 May 2023 03:56

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