The interest which attaches to the history of extinct British animals can only be equalled by the regret which must be felt, by all true naturalists, at their disappearance beyond recall from our fauna (Harting 1880, 3; emphasis added).
The implications of pit-deposits containing aurochs/Bos primigenius skulls dating to the Bronze Age, found in two recent excavations in Bedfordshire are outlined. Involving a review of related findings in south-eastern England, these serve as a platform to consider the dynamics of aurochs extinction, which is held to have occurred in Britain by the middle–later centuries of the 2nd millennium bc. It should be stressed that, although consulting many ‘expert’ colleagues, this paper is not written from a faunal remains-specialist perspective. It is essentially discursive and primarily intended to highlight a significant site-recovery trend. It reflects, moreover, on issues of broad social relevance. Holocene human-induced extinctions have both an inherent curiosity and poignancy. Indeed now, faced with currently threatened mass-species loss, they can even involve – beyond regret – a sense of cumulative guilt.