A panel of cattle bones excavated from the 1000–year–old Viking Fishamble Street site in Dublin was assessed for the presence of surviving mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Eleven of these bones gave amplifiable mtDNA and a portion of the hypervariable control region was determined for each specimen. A comparative analysis was performed with control region sequences from five extant Nordic and Irish cattle breeds. The medieval population displayed similar levels of mtDNA diversity to modern European breeds. However, a number of novel mtDNA haplotypes were also detected in these bone samples. In addition, the presence of a putative ancestral sequence at high frequency in the medieval population supports an early post–domestication expansion of cattle in Europe.