By Miranda Green
In Animals in Celtic lifestyles and fable, Miranda eco-friendly attracts on facts from early Celtic records, archaeology and iconography to think about the style during which animals shaped the root of complicated rituals and ideology. She unearths that animals have been endowed with a very excessive prestige, thought of by way of the Celts as valuable of appreciate and admiration.
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40 He says that the number of cattle they possessed was the key to their status. 7 Bronze sword-scabbard engraved with bulls, fifth century BC, from a grave at Hochscheid, Germany. Width of scabbard: 5cm. Paul Jenkins. 41 This is interesting because Tacitus is describing a society which is very like that chronicled in the early Irish literature as pertaining to Celtic communities. In Ireland, a cow and a female slave (a cumal) were both units of value, the main measure of wealth being cattle. Many early Irish stories tell of valuable herds of cattle, and raids between neighbouring communities were the norm.
Herds of swine that they afford a plenteous supply for . . salt meat. . 57 Pig-keeping is traditionally associated with the Celts. 9 Bronze goat figurine from the Roman legionary fortress of Caerleon, Gwent. By courtesy of the National Museum of Wales. 62 It is often thought that the Celts spent much of their time hunting boar and that this was their source of pork, but it is clear from the faunal record63 that most pig bones on Iron Age sites are those of the domestic pig. None the less, Peter Reynolds has made the point64 that the piglets of wild pigs are easily tamed, so perhaps wild and domestic pigs were sometimes treated similarly and even interbred.
159 We have to 35 ANIMALS IN CELTIC LIFE AND MYTH be careful in assessing choice from the bones alone, since of course one ox will provide much more meat than one sheep or a single pig. The optimum time for butchery is when an animal achieves adulthood, which means at 3 to 4 years for beef-cattle and 2 years for a pig or sheep. But there is a great deal of evidence (see pp. 7–11) that the choice was made to utilize the living animal for work, milk or wool and to kill it only when its useful working life was over.