They’ve always been man’s best friend.
But now a team of zooarchaeologists and scientists have launched a fascinating new study to find out exactly what Viking-Age and Medieval dogs and wolves from Ireland and the UK looked like to their human buddies.
Using bone measurements, radiocarbon dating, and ancient DNA analysis, the project researchers will try to figure out the type and size of a number of dogs uncovered on previous digs, including one discovered on Cork’s North Main Street, what they ate, and whether they were Irish dogs or imported from elsewhere.
They hope to find out if the relationships between humans and dogs changed during the Viking Age and whether there were any wolves or dog/wolf hybrids.
“This grassroots project provides a fun way for secondary school children and the public to engage with cutting-edge scientific and zooarchaeological techniques on how we do research on our best friend’s distant relatives over a thousand years ago.” said principal investigator Dr Ruth Carden, a Research Scientist with the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland, and commercial zooarchaeologist.
#VikingDublinDogs have the wonderful @lidl_ireland Aungier Street Viking-Age dogs 👇. We need help from you all to raise costs for radiocarbon dating. Crowdfunding campaign opening next Tuesday 4 July 2023. Lots of ways to get involved with our project 🐕 🙏 #AWOOOO #JoinThePack pic.twitter.com/Gpwhtgccjf
— Viking Dublin Dogs (@VikingDublinDog) June 30, 2023
“It’s a fun way to learn and we can fill knowledge gaps on the types of dogs and their roles in past societies, in a time before dog breeds were invented by humans.”
Artist-in-residence, John Flynn of Castle Studio, Cork, will bring these dogs to life during the project.
The project also has a designated secondary school’s outreach programme – the Kennel Pack. Cork’s Educate Together Secondary School is one of five schools nationally to partner with Viking Dublin Dogs by sponsoring a radiocarbon date of a dog from an archaeological site of their choosing.
The team is launching a Crowdfunding Campaign to crowdfund the costs of radiocarbon dating, which will be carried out by the prestigious 14CHRONO, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Chip in by buying some of their cool merch and limited edition prints by John Flynn here.