Excavations at an Iron Age to early Roman settlement at Bar Hill in Cambridgeshire, carried out by MOLA Headland Infrastructure as part of the National Highways A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme between 2016 and 2018, yielded almost 700kg of animal bone – including over 8,000 amphibian bones, representing at least 350 frogs and toads.
MOLA archaeozoologists are now seeking an explanation for the unusually high number of amphibian bones, mostly found in a 14m-long ditch on the western side of a middle-to-late Iron Age roundhouse.
They are considering a range of options: there is evidence for amphibian consumption in prehistoric Britain, but the bones have no cut or burn marks on them indicative of cooking. They could have been boiled, of course, but, alternatively, the frogs may have come seeking food themselves – the settlement, a site of crop-processing, was bound to attract insects.
It is possible, though, that the frogs got stuck in the ditch while migrating, or that they died due to disease, or from cold while hibernating in winter.