Carbon dating service dead dogs

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Devil Dogs are a recurring storytelling motif common to communities all over the world.

Perhaps it was inevitable that our discovery of an exceptionally large male canine skeleton, in an area of Suffolk with a well-known local black dog myth, would be picked up and embellished with relish.

Today, we are quite used to thinking of dogs as family pets, but this is a very modern sensibility.

The household breeds we take for granted now were not always regarded with such sentimentality, and were considered working dogs first and foremost.

To tax a dog meant no more sense than to tax a child or a spouse. Here, our very own Fergus the Site Dog (@Site DOg on twitter!

) gets cuddles from Aerial-Cam’s Adam Stanford, inspects the trenches, and gets even more cuddles from Raksha Dave. Armed with this historical background, combined with the biographical analysis of the dog’s skeleton, a picture emerges of a working dog that lived long into ‘retirement’.

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Our metric analysis gave us an indication of the size of the dog (standing at 72 cm from shoulder to floor) giving us a sense of what he may have looked like (modern breeds in this range include Great Danes and Mastiffs).Though these dates established that the skeleton was certainly later than the fabled story of Black Shuck’s reported sighting in 1577, they were no help in providing an accurate calendrical date for the burial of the skeleton.Any further light on this mystery would have to come from trench itself, and for that we needed to look again at our records of the finds and layers through which the grave had been cut.And further ‘biographical’ details could be recovered from the skeleton, such as heavily worn teeth and osteoarthritis in his ankle joint, all indicating that he was an elderly dog at death.Radiocarbon dating was unfortunately much less informative, indicating a date of either 1650-1690, 1730-1810 or post 1920 (Beta-383664).By the end, he would have walked with a limp, been unable to run, and would have struggled to be much use on a working farm.


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