Sheep O'Hoy: The zooarchaeology of sails production in Late Iron Age southern Scandinavia

Project: Research

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Archaeology


  • Zooarchaeology, Late Iron Age, Scandinavian Iron Age, Sheep husbandry, Wool production, Sails production, Animal bones, Animal osteology, Sheep, Textile production


For the Late Iron Age (450-1050AD) societies in southern Scandinavia, the introduction of the (presumably) woollen sail somewhere in the beginning of the period was important as it brought with superior propulsion and thus more effective ships. Judging by close temporal and/or spatial analogies of quantitative estimates, the amount of wool needed must have been high; many sheep must have been acquired and managed for this purpose. Wool production was thus not only the most basic ingredient for making a sail or other textiles; it was also a highly integrated part of these societies, permeating every-day life for all socio-economic classes.

This study intends to i) map and analyze sheep management and wool production from a zoo-archaeological perspective, ii) to contextualize sheep husbandry on local levels, and iii) To test innovations in morphometrical and osteological methods for the separation of sheep and goat bones using ZooMS.

Short titleSheep O'Hoy
Effective start/end date2019/02/042020/01/31