Archaeological Solutions

Remains of extinct prehistoric cattle found in Cambridgeshire

During excavation at a Cambridgeshire quarry, AS Field Team encountered a large pit containing multiple fills. At its base was part of the remains of an animal that has been extinct in Britain for over 3000 years.

As well as other animal remains, including deer antler, the an almost complete aurochs horn core was found near the base of this large pit. The horn core measured between 9.4 and 12.3cm in diameter at its base, 36.5cm in circumference and the outer curve was 67cm in length. These measurements fall within the middle of the range of measurements observed in Mesolithic and Neolithic aurochsen from Hungary. The basal circumference is much larger than would be observed in any domestic cattle, helping to demonstrate that this is indeed from an aurochs.

While in central Europe, aurochsen survived into the medieval period, in Britain they are thought to have become extinct in the Bronze Age. The most recent radiocarbon dated specimen, which came from a site in Somerset, has been dated to c. 3245 years BP. Our specimen will now go under post-excavation analysis.

The aurochs horn core from excavation in CambridgeshireThe aurochs horn core from excavation in Cambridgeshire