Pigs Are Given An Unfair Reputation

 In Neolithic, Paleo food

Pigs are given an unfair reputation. Fat pig, dirty pig, filthy pig, all derogatory terms of insult which demean the pig. Yet, in 2500 BC at the builder’s camp near Stonehenge, called Durrington Walls, they ate pork in vast quantities. The ratio was one beef to ten pigs at their feasts. If pigs are given an unfair reputation by us, perhaps they had a better press in prehistory.

Origin of the pig

Researching where our pigs actually came from has proved quite difficult. Sus scrofa is the latin name for the wild boar which lived in our wildwood after the last Ice Age. Early people seem to have domesticated it. It is easy to imagine hunters killing a sow and finding lots of piglets around her body. They could be hand reared and form the basis of a herd. The boar, much bigger and more dangerous once it matures, would present a problem. Consequently, they probably domesticated the sows and allowed wild boar to mate with them as and when they wanted. Somewhere along the line, spots appeared on the domesticated pigs and that implies new DNA. A pig from the Middle East appears to have fathered these but how did it get to Britain?

Veneration of the pig

The pig in Britain seems to have been venerated. For example, the boar’s tooth was worn as an amulet and was used to polish metal in the Bronze Age. The opposite is evident in Muslim and Jewish cultures, where the pig is seen as dirty. Because of this, eating pork is an anathema. Perhaps this is due to its habit of eating its own poo, and gobbling up human poo as well. But, that is just pig efficiency, drawing what nutrition it can from other creatures waste.

Pigs are given an unfair reputation

Many of the pigs eaten at Durrington Walls had been reared between 30 and 350 miles distant. How did they get there? For certain, we have no evidence of countrywide roads or tracks in that period. Because the River Avon was their highway, were the pigs transferred by boat? Whatever, pork was not only eaten to excess. As part of the feasting they threw meat away, deliberately wasted it. They did this because they could, to impress on those attending Stonehenge that they were the superior tribe on this island. The pig, as part of their food surplus, had status in prehistory.

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