Ancient Poo From Skara Brae

Our new paper has been published examining coprolites (ancient preserved faeces) from Skara Brae in Orkney, Scotland.

The ancient poos were found in a trench at the World Heritage Site during archaeological excavation. Skara Brae preserves a 5000 year old Neolithic settlement, older than Stonehenge. We wanted to find out what had deposited these coprolites, and what they had eaten. We combined traditional and cutting edge methods, including CT scanning, scanning electron microscopy, and protein analysis.

The results told us the coprolites were made by dogs, and that the dogs had been fed on scraps of livestock, including sheep. But there were also small vole bones in some of the coprolites, suggesting the dogs hunted and ate them too, perhaps as a form of pest control.

To find out more take a look at our paper, published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.