Book: Animaltown. Beasts in Medieval Urban Space (BAR 2858, 2017)

Urban space constitutes a place where people and animals live together in close proximity with each other, creating changing landscapes of co-existence, conflict, mutual dependencies and exploitation. The medieval animals found in the articles of Animaltown: Beasts in Medieval Urban Space, appear in text and image, as well as archaeological find materials in the form of butchery waste, kitchen refuse, debris from manufacturing osseous objects, and the objects themselves. This multiplicity of sources sheds light on the ways towns fed themselves, protected themselves and created their personal landscapes and views of themselves through the power of metaphor and symbol involving the array of beasts, great and small, surrounding them.The general theme uniting the papers in this volume is the range of factors influencing the mutual relationship between humans and the animals that surrounded them within the densely built and occupied spaces created by people in towns and their hinterlands. Animals are found as urban symbols, decorative motifs and representations. They appear as key elements in food traditions and meat-processing, economic and trade structures, hygiene and disease, as well as craft activities that exploited a variety of animal products. Beasts of all kinds played many different roles in the lives of people in the Middle Ages, from the highest levels of society to the lowest of the low. Conversely, intimate contact with humans in these environments also shaped the lives and behaviour of both wild and domestic animals in many profound ways, both evident and subtle. The volume will be a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in the connection between urban animals and people in medieval times.


Alice M. Choyke is Associate Professor in the medieval department of Central European University. She also teaches in the cultural heritage program of the same University. She is co-founder of the Medieval Animal Data-network (MAD) and the Worked Bone Research Group (WBRG) of the International Council of Archaeozoology (ICAZ).
Gerhard Jaritz is Professor of Medieval Studies at Central European University. He is co-founder of the Medieval Animal Data-network (MAD). His main research interests are the history of medieval daily life and mentality, and the history of late medieval visual culture.

Table of Contents

(see also TOC PDF, 2 pages, 170 ko)

A. M. Choyke: Introduction Interpreting Urban Animal Contexts

Interpreting Urban Animal Contexts

  • G. K. Kunst: What makes a medieval urban animal bone assemblage look urban? Reflections on feature types and recurrent patterns from lower Austria and Vienna
  • L. Bartosiewicz: Like a headless chicken: Meaning, medium and context in medieval urban taphonomy
  • M. Maltby: Horseflesh and veaver pelts: Aspects of faunal studies in medieval Novgorod and its region
  • P. J. Crabtree: The diet of Ipswich from the middle saxon through the medieval periods

Animals as Symbol and Urban Reality

  • G. Jaritz: Dogs in church
  • L. Fenelli: Pigs in medieval cities: saint Anthony’s unusual attribute
  • A. Mänd: Animals as presents in late-medieval Livonia

Norm and Practice and Urban Animals

  • H. Kekez: Oxen, pigs and sheep in the medieval city: Analysis of regulations concerning domestic animals in statutes of medieval Dalmatian towns
  • K. Szende: All the priests’ horses and all the priests’ hens…: Animals in the households of late medieval Hungarian urban clergy
  • B. Aitchison: ‘Drunkenness is the mother of forgetfulness, anger causes injuries’: Animal welfare in late-medieval english urban society
  • F. Beglane: Suburban husbandry: Animals in the landscape of Trim, County Meath, Ireland

Domestic and Wild Animals in Urban Settings

  • L. Bejenaru: Faunal exploitation patterns in urban settlements in medieval Moldavia
  • T. O’Connor: Animals in medieval urban lives: York as a case study
  • F. Salvadori: Animals in Italian medieval towns: from late antiquity to the late middle ages
  • A. Pluskowski: Urban jungle? Wild mammals in medieval towns

Animals and the Urban Elite

  • I. Nicka: What is a peacock doing in a medieval city? Analysing visual representations of animals in urban space in the late middle ages
  • F. Leonte: ‘… For I have brought to you the fugitive animals of the desert’: Animals and representations of the Constantinopolitan imperial authority in two poems by Manuel Philes
  • A. Buglione & al.: Zooarchaeological research from an elite urban building in medieval Durrës (Albania)
  • L. Daróczi-Szabó / M. Daróczi-Szabó: Meat consumption by the Christian population in the Buda Castle town district in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries


Choyke, Alice Mathea, and Gerhard Jaritz, eds. Animaltown: Beasts in Medieval Urban Space. British Archaeological Reports. International Series 2858. Oxford: BAR Publishing, 2017, vii + 209 p.

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Cite this blog post
MAD (2018, April 9). Book: Animaltown. Beasts in Medieval Urban Space (BAR 2858, 2017). Medieval Animal Data-Network. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from

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