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Animal Bone Metrical Archive Project (ABMAP)

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ABMAP is a database of measurements of bones of domestic animals from more than 100 archaeological assemblages from excavations in southern Britain. The mammals included are cattle, sheep/goat, sheep, goat, pig, horse and dog and the bird included are domestic fowl and goose. The assemblages are from all periods from the Neolithic to the eighteenth century AD, with most from later periods.

The database gives zooarchaeologists and others the opportunity to find data with which to compare their own individual bone or assemblage and to research size change in domestic animals from prehistoric to the present day.

Background and history

In 1994 English Heritage Archaeology Division approved a project for the collection and synthesis of metrical data from analyses of animal bones which had been carried out over the past 20 years. It was seen as a tool which would assist in the efficient production of reports on assemblages of archaeological animal bone. Measurement records were collected from approximately 25,000 bones of the common domestic animals. These had originally been recorded by many different workers but all had followed the measurement guides published by Driesch (1976) and Jones et al (1981), and this ensured that the data were compatible. Most of the contributing bone assemblages are from excavations funded by the Department of the Environment and later English Heritage. The measurements were assembled from a variety of disparate computer sources into a relational database by Mary Iles and others at the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE), University of Southampton, now the Centre for Applied Archaeological Analysis (CAAA).

It was always the intention to make the computerised data available to animal bone specialists. At the time of the original proposal it was envisioned that the data set might potentially be suitable for dissemination via the web, but at the time the demand was for data on disk. Since 1995 however use of the web has increased hugely, ADS has been created, and researchers in archaeology, including specialists in zooarchaeology, have access to increasingly powerful computer hard and software. With encouragement from English Heritage and the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton, the decision was taken to make the data publicly available on the web, via ADS. Funding for this was provided by English Heritage.


The project was conceived by Clive Gamble at the University of Southampton. Dave Wheatley converted the data from various old formats and transferred it into dBase files. The data were uploaded by Mary Iles and has now been transferred into stable format using comma delimited files at ADS. The zooarchaeologists who have contributed records to ABMAP include Umberto Albarella, Jennifer Bourdillon, Jennie Coy, Simon Davis, Mary Iles, Alison Locker, Mark Maltby, MoLAS staff (Alan Pipe, James Rackham, Kevin Rielly), Dale Serjeantson and Pippa Smith. Putting the database on the web has been the work of Keith Westcott, Dale Serjeantson and Adrienne Powell.

What is in ABMAP

The animal bone measurement archive (ABMAP) includes altogether 60,931 measurements from 24,731 bones, with the greatest number coming from sheep, sheep or goat, and cattle. Most of the measurements are limb bones, but there are also a few of skulls and mandibles. Most of the assemblages were recorded at the University of Southampton Faunal Remains Unit and the Museum of London Archaeological Service (MoLAS), so most sites are from the south of England.

The measurements and definitions follow those of Driesch (Guide to the Measurement of Animal Bones from Archaeological sites, 1976) with a few which have been added later. The sources for measurements are listed in the Overview.

Summary of species and measurements

Species No. bones  No. measurements
Sheep/goat 3931 8841
Sheep 5717 14871
Goat 306 675
Cattle 8806 22247
Aurochs 1 3
Pig 2251 4194
Horse 941 2471
Dog 626 1655
Domestic fowl 1725 4770
Goose 427 897

Sites and codes as used in the ABMAP database

11STS11 St Thomas StreetLondon
124BH124 Borough High StLondon
175BH175 Borough High StLondon
BOP8228-34 Bishops GateLondon
LWA8443 London Wall, EC2London
LOA9054 Lombard StreetLondon
RAG8261-65 Crutched FriarLondon
BIS8276-80 Bishops GateLondon
W58Amesbury Barrow 42Wiltshire
BANBanbury Car ParkBuckinghamshire
BVBancroft VillaBuckinghamshire
BS78Bankside 1978London
BS87Bankside 1987London
BAI85Barking AbbeyLondon
BECBeckfordHereford & Worcester
BSF86Beddington Sewage FarmLondon
BPBishop's WalthamHampshire
W158Bridge Street EastBerkshire
BHSBrighton Hill SouthHampshire
BHSMBrighton Hill SouthHampshire
CANCannington CemeterySomerset
CARCarisbrooke CastleHampshire
CH75Chaucer HouseLondon
TESTChilbolton DownHampshire
W2AMYConeybury AnomalyWiltshire
W2Coneybury HengeWiltshire
CCCorfe CastleDorset
CFCrab FarmDorset
OPT81Cross Keys CourtLondon
ALADorchester, Alington AvenueDorset
MCRDorchester, Maiden Castle RdDorset
MFDorchester, Middle FarmDorset
SGRDorchester, St Georges RdDorset
COWDorset RidgewayDorset
ROWDorset RidgewayDorset
R7Easton DownHampshire
ECKEckweekBristol & Avon
FARFarrier StreetHereford & Worcester
VAL88Fleet ValleyLondon
DWAY1Hereford, Deansway 1Hereford & Worcester
LP89Hextalls (Little Pickle)Surrey
HSC94High St, CroydonLondon
HOO88Hooper StreetLondon
IARItchen Abbas RoadHampshire
W199Jennings YardBerkshire
JUB85Jubilee HallLondon
W59King Barrow RidgeWiltshire
KEHKnights Enham HillHampshire
LCT84Leadenhall CourtLondon
LFLodge FarmDorset
LOW88London WallLondon
MAI86Maiden LaneLondon
MFH88Manor FarmLondon
MWMicheldever WoodHampshire
ILA79Miles LaneLondon
NAG87National GalleryLondon
NGA87National GalleryLondon
NRNew RoadHampshire
NRF88Norton FolgateLondon
BRO90Old Broad StreetLondon
R2Osborrne HouseHampshire
PWC92Palace of WestminsterLondon
RACReading Abbey CloistBerkshire
W60Reading LibraryBerkshire
W12CReading, Abbey WharfBerkshire
W61AReading, Abbey WharfBerkshire
W61BReading, Abbey WharfBerkshire
W112Reading, Crane WharfBerkshire
RV87Reigate VicarageSurrey
W83Robin Hoods BallWiltshire
RRVRock Roman VillaHampshire
BELLRomsey, Bell StreetHampshire
SAGRomsey, La SagesseHampshire
RLHRope Lake HoleHampshire
SOUNTSouthampton NewtownHampshire
F2048Southampton, Six DialsHampshire
SOUSDSouthampton, Six DialsHampshire
SOUWGSouthampton, WestgateHampshire
SCC77Southark Cathedral London
SLH93St Leonard's HospitalLondon
SIN88St Mary'sLondon
SPHOSt Paul's HospitalHampshire
PET81St Peter's HillLondon
SRFStaines Road FarmSurrey
SW86ISwan Lane car parkLondon
TF290Tilbury FortLondon
TOL79Tower of LondonLondon
W141Trowbridge CastleWiltshire
UX88Uxbridge,Three Ways WharfLondon
VFViables FarmHampshire
WCWest CottonNorthamptonshire
W474WesthampnettWest Sussex
WGWickham GlebeHampshire
DEFENWinchester DefencesHampshire
JS27Winchester, 27 Jewry StreetHampshire
CHR3Winchester, Chester RdHampshire
CTWinchester, Crowder TerraceHampshire
EASTWinchester, Eastern SuburbsHampshire
HGWinchester, Henly's GarageHampshire
HG3Winchester, Henly's GarageHampshire
HAWinchester, Hyde AbbeyHampshire
JSCHWinchester, Jewry St, CrownHampshire
NORTHWinchester, Northern SuburbHampshire
SJS3Winchester, St Johns StreetHampshire
SXSWinchester, Sussex StreetHampshire
THWinchester, Trafalgar HouseHampshire
VRWinchester, Victoria RoadHampshire
VR2Winchester, Victoria Road 2Hampshire
VR3Winchester, Victoria Road 3Hampshire
WPFWirral Park FarmSomerset
YKB88York BuildingsLondon

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