AHRC funded project on Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions goes to Glastonbury

The AHRC Science in Culture Theme Large grant project The Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interations has been selected to run a stand in the Green Futures Field Science Tent at Glastonbury Festival from the 25th to the 29th of June 2014.

The project was chosen by Bournemouth University’s Research and Knowledge Exchange to be one of six institutions represented in The Green Futures Field’s Science Tent which this year is run by Dr Anthony Gallagher from Southampton Solent Univerity. The tent will showcase a variety of activities based on scientific research all focused on a common theme of green futures.  Glastonbury encourages public engagement on a wide level with a staggeringly broad range of workshops, crafts and stalls to interact with. Public engagement in a festival environment encourages interaction with a very diverse range of people in a relaxed setting which develops free and open discussion, and as such, a better understanding of the topic at hand.

The Chicken Project’s contribution will offer  members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the origins and subsequent development of our most widely established domestic animal. Post doctoral researcher Dr Julia Best and PhD student Jacqueline Pitt from Bournemouth University will represent the project and run a series of activities to explore the process of domestication, the spread of chickens across the world and the changes that have occurred skeletally, genetically and behaviourally as a result.

Visitors will be encouraged to handle archaeological finds and modern skeletal material to explore how by combining science with archaeology and anthropology we can gain a deeper insight into the past, present and future of the chicken.  Visitors may examine pathological bones to explore avian health, and also identify age and sex indicators to explore meat and egg production. Visitors are invited to try their hand at working out what the chicken’s wild ancestor was, where it came from, and when and how the chicken spread across the world. Using interactive mapping and charting, each visitor will be part of a visual body of knowledge that grows throughout the festival. This dynamic form continues in encouraging younger (and older!) participants draw their preconceptions of chickens which will be displayed around the tent. These will enable us to combine the scientific analysis of bone material and archaeological pottery with the cultural perceptions of chickens in our modern society.


Chickens are our most common domestic animal. With around 1.5 trillion* eggs laid each year, the chicken’s integral role in our lives and our food industry is clearly visible. This AHRC funded project aims to better understand the archaeological origins of this species which has important implications for contemporary issues of food production, sustainability, human health and animal welfare. Further information about the project is available here.

Visit the project stand at Glastonbury to find out more about this AHRC funded research. There will be bones and artefacts to handle, interactive charting to engage with, historical recipes to explore, links to modern poultry keeping and much more.

Follow @chicken_project on Twitter #Glastochicken to find out more. Further information about the AHRC Human- Chicken Interactions project can be found in this blog post, ‘Hen-pecked: The Bird that conquered the world’.