Species: Pests, game, scavengers and royal beasts.
Source: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, The Acts for the Preservation of Grain, The Values of Wild and Tame.
Date: Medieval to Early Modern, c.1100-1566.
This week’s blog post is a guest post at the Academy for Distance Learning, where I have been challenged to provide a summary of Britain’s strangest laws in 500 words or less
The Academy for Distance Learning is a UK institution where you can take courses up to higher diploma level online or by correspondence. They have just started a (modern) Wildlife Law course which I will be teaching this year.
You can read the full blog post here.
Posted in Anglo-Norman, Birds, English, Mammals, Special Feature, Welsh
Tagged environmental management, exploitation, farmland, harmony with nature, historical approach, home, human-environment conflict, hunting, legal, nature is a pest, nature is amazing, persecution
- Earthworm photographed by Jacopo Werther, licensed under CC-SA-BY 2.0. Hydra concept art from Dragon’s Dogma, a 2012 computer game. Display and discussion of this cover image comprises fair-use under the 1988 Licenses, Designs and Patents Act.
Species Mentioned: Folklore originally attached to various medieval fictional serpents but now attached (falsely) to all British earthworms.
Source: Most medieval Bestiaries.
Date: Bestiary tradition most popular in Britain c.1150-1450.
Highlights: The source attests that snakes can be chopped into pieces and still try to kill you like an ineffective cartoon supervillain. Many people in Britain sometimes still believe this about worms, the modern descendants of poisonous “wyrms” to this day. Are we really any less gullible than our predecessors?
Posted in Amphibians and Reptiles, Invertebrates, Latin, Monsters
Tagged bestiary, farmland, folkloric approach, garden, imported stories, linguistic approach, linguistic drift, monsters, nature is a pest, persecution, redelimitation
This week’s blog post is on the Age of Empires blog. Click here to go there now.
We have a special sort of text to look at this week… a 21st century one!
This week’s entry, hosted on the Age of Empires blog looks at how accurately sheep are depicted in the computer game.
Species mentioned: Several but most interestingly sheep, (Ovis aries) which are the most frequently exploited animal in Age of Empires.
Source: Age of Empires II, one of the most influential RTS games of all time.
Date of Source: Age of Empires II is a 21st century game, but it’s based on the vague “middle ages”. For the Celts that’s c.550-1650.
Highlights: Although the developers of AoE II seem to have no idea what a medieval sheep looked like, they knew exactly what they were doing when they gave the medieval Celts a bonus with livestock. “Celts” ranging from the heroes of ‘Táin Bó Cúailnge’ to the ballads of the Borderers have specialised in being able to steal livestock from anywhere, no matter how isolated and well-guarded.
Species mentioned: A swarm of very hungry harvest mice.
Source: ‘Manawydan’ the ‘Third Branch of the Mabinogi’.
Date of Source: c.1000-1250.
Highlights: An angry sorcerer takes revenge by turning his whole family into harvest mice to try and eat his enemy’s crops. Amazingly this doesn’t work out as he planned, and one harvest mouse is sentenced to be hanged as a thief.
THE NEWS IN BRIEF…
If you follow British news you’ve probably heard about the escaped wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Bridgend, South Wales. The animals were being bred by a farmer in Maesteg, between Swansea and Cardiff. These were traditional wild boar, complete with tusks and spiny manes, not just ordinary (modern) pigs. Wild boar pork in the UK is considered a rare delicacy, and is supposed to have a much more gamey ‘wild’ taste than ordinary pig pork. The animals in question were released after a group broke into the property where they stole equipment and attacked the boar.
A group of boar is called a sounder, and the number of this sounder is quite high. According to the South Wales police, at least 21 have been released, although the breeder, Greg Davies is missing 42 (23 adults and 19 piglets) (South Wales Evening Post, April 28th 2014; BBC News, April 28th 2014).
Posted in Mammals, Special Feature
Tagged environmental management, exploitation, extinction, farmland, historical approach, modern, native status, pannage, persecution, re-introduction, woodland