History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Who Brought Rabbits to Britain **

Well it has been finally settled - once and for all! Years of division among academics has finally come to an end. We now know who introduced rabbits to Britain.

The majority of historians had long believed it was Normans (the French) who introduced rabbits into Britain; however, a small group of scholars throughout the years had always insisted rabbits were brought to Britain by the Romans. 

Marcus Terrentius Varro (116-27BC) is always cited as the military officer who brought rabbits to the island nation. Marcus wrote in his memoirs that his Legion brought rabbits with them when they invaded Britain. He served his men rabbits on Roman Holidays and all festive occasions as well as on those nights when his Legion was victorious in battle over the Celts.

We can thank a recent archaeological dig in Norfolk England for solving this mystery. The remains of a 2,000-year-old rabbit, the oldest rabbit fossil ever found on the British shores provides scientists with evidential proof that is was the Romans who first introduced the rabbit to northern Europe – not the French. 

Jayne Bown, the manager of the Norfolk Archaeological team said "We can now clearly date, without equivocation that the rabbit in Britain dates back to the first or second century AD from the pottery fragments found beside it. All the pottery fragments, and there were many, are domestic pots which Romans traditionally used for cooking.

The accepted belief now is that: Lagomorphs (the zoological name for Rabbits) actually originated in Central Asia then over time (perhaps hundreds of years) they began to disperse throughout both Asia and Europe. 

Rabbits appeared in India quite early and then they continued their migration into Italy. Once in Italy they were immediately embraced by the Italians who saw them as a prized food - a delicacy; never before seen.

So the next time someone asks you who brought rabbits to Britain you can state with certainty – The Romans Did!!!

** For the purpose of this article – Britain is the official name give to the kingdom of England and the principality of Wales. The capital of England is London and the capital of Wales is Cardiff.
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