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Bone and antler were widely used in the Viking and Saxon period, often for jobs for which we now use plastics. Quite a lot of bone and antler objects have survived, partly because it was widely used, but also due to the fact that it generally survives well in the ground in most conditions. The Ph conditions should be ideally calcareous (chalky) or neutral. However when archaeologists are excavating in sandy acid soils, skeletal material will be very rare or in a very poor condition, or often non-existent. Horn survives very infrequently in the ground, often only being detected as a mineralised layer on metals that have rusted over time.
''Original article by Ben Levick, 1993<br>Revised by Roland Williamson, 2002''