Accepted Paper:

Representations of Fallow Deer  


Christopher Ward (University of Nottingham)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the role that representation and classification has had for the European Fallow Deer. Following these species, this paper will discuss how classifications has informed and transformed interspecies interactions but also beyond the deer and into concepts of nature and wildness.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will discuss the roles that representation and classification has had for a species of deer, the European Fallow Deer. That this species has characteristics that make it recognisable, allows the classifications to be tracked across history and conceptions. These representations across history, are interconnected with our understandings of them, and their apparent, if sometime enigmatic wildness.

In Britain this species of deer has been subject to huge efforts during the medieval era to import and then maintained within "emparkments" and forested areas. Being regarded as "ecological arks" or nature walled-in" these structures attempted to maintain a proper balance in order to preserve this species of deer. As such, the mechanisms of perceiving and classifying dangers, and markers of danger became of the utmost importance in maintaining a natural order that these deer-herds represented. This natural order became deeply tied to the families that held the lands, and allowed entrance into certain social circles.

So as to safeguard this natural order, the outcome of predation was recreated - to prevent overpopulation. This saw the removal of any abnormality or failures within the herd; and any manifestation of these mistakes would be regarded as evidence of a direct negative environmental outcome of mankind. So as to manage this classifications were necessary that would often place an idealised purity of the deer over the actual species. This paper will discuss the subtle interplay of conceptions of species from historical practices to the taxonomic efforts of modern zooarchaeological projects.

Panel P003
Representing and Depicting Animals