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Rattus rattus: the introduction of the black rat into Britain

  • James Rackham
Extract

The subject of this article, ‘Rattus rattus’ (Linnaeus, 1758), or the black rat, has, in Mr Rackham's estimation, considerable archaeological importance, especially in view of recent discussions on plague and the end of Roman Britain, and subsequent plagues of the Anglo-Saxon period. We learn that some recent finds suggest a Roman date for the introduction of the black rat into Britain. Mr Rackham is a Senior Research Assistant in the Biological Laboratory, Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, with a research interest in late Pleistocene vertebrate fauna. Current work in the Department involves the environmental analysis, particularly zoological, of archaeological sites of all periods in the northern five counties of England.

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Antiquity
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