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3 December 2006
Iron Age Scots fur farm clue

Iron Age man reared foxes to make fur-trimmed clothes, archaeologists believe. Experts say the pelts were used to make sought-after fur-trimmed coats, loin cloths and blankets. Researchers at York University found that foxes flourished on Orkney (Scotland) during the late Iron Age. But there were none on the Outer Hebrides or Shetland, suggesting they were introduced to Orkney.
     The study concluded that foxes were brought to the islands because their fur was valued more highly than that of indigenous species. However, the creatures disappeared soon after the Vikings invaded about 800 CE.
     The discovery was made by studying animal bones at ancient settlement sites. Badgers are also believed to have been importedas "trophies" by the islanders. The authors say this could be evidence of the earliest example of fur farming in Scotland. Co-author Eva Fairnell said: "Humans must have been taking foxes to Orkney. "Fox fur had a high prestige - it may have been an accessory, some sort of fashionable trim."

Source: Daily Record (27 November 2006)

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