Skip to content

What was English food like 1000 years ago?

What was English food like 1000 years ago? by Stephen Tempest

Answer by Stephen Tempest:

Quite a lot is known about what kinds of food were eaten in England a thousand years ago. However, the details of how the food was prepared and cooked are much less clear. There are few or no surviving recipes or cooking instructions.

It should be noted that food was much more seasonal than modern people are accustomed to. There was no refrigeration, no greenhouses, no large-scale imports. Milk was usually only available in spring; vegetables in summer, meat in winter. Grain, because it can be kept without spoiling year-round, was by far the most important source of nutrition.

The main component of the Anglo-Saxon diet, for those who could afford it, was bread. Poorer people might eat grain in the form of gruel instead, since grinding the grain to flour and baking it into bread both required expensive capital equipment that they might be unable to afford.

Wheat was the preferred grain used to make flour; barley was considered second-best and rye and oats were rarely used. Most villages grew several types of grain each year, in case a blight destroyed one of the crops. In bad years dried beans or peas might also be ground up to make flour.

Loaves were usually round and flat, and quite coarse and heavy by modern standards. Grain was ground to flour in watermills, which were a relatively recent innovation in late Anglo-Saxon England, but one which spread rapidly — there were over 5,000 of them in the country by 1086, pretty much one for every substantial village.

Bread could be eaten with butter or cheese, or dipped into a vegetable broth to soften it.

Vegetables were also a staple item of the diet: often simmered in a pot along with grain as a thickening agent to make a broth. Beans, peas, onions, leeks, celery, radish, carrots, parsnips, shallots, lettuce and cabbage were all grown in vegetable gardens. The Anglo-Saxons did not have potatoes or tomatoes, which came from the Americas in the 16th century. They also did not have spinach, cauliflower, runner beans or brussels sprouts, which were all introduced to England later.

Flavourings and seasonings included garlic, mint, parsley, dill, chervil, coriander, cumin, bay leaf and poppy.

Imported spices were also used, but not in the quantities that would be known in later centuries. The most prized possession of the monk and historian Bede was a small bag of pepper, presumably brought overland to England all the way from Pavia in Italy, and before that by a Venetian galley from Egypt or Syria, and before that by a merchant caravan or Arab trading ship all the way from the Indies. It had probably passed through many different hands before ending up in Jarrow in Northumbria.

Fruit was also an important part of the diet judging from the number of fruit pips found by archaeologists in middens and refuse heaps. Apples, pears, plums, figs, quinces, peaches and mulberries were all grown. So were various types of nuts.

Meat was eaten fairly often, but still seems to have been regarded as something of a treat for special occasions. Roast beef, from cows, was the most expensive and high-status meat. Pork, ham and bacon from pigs came second. Mutton from sheep was disliked, and considered food fit for slaves and thralls to eat while their betters dined on beef.

In an era before refrigeration, bacon and ham were preserved by hanging them in the rafters of the house to be smoked. Pigs were allowed to roam free in the forests outside the village, feeding on the naturally-occurring nuts and forage there, and most were rounded up and slaughtered for meat as winter approached.

Hunting also provided some food, mostly for the wealthy: deer, boar and hare were hunted or snared for their meat. Wild birds might also be caught using nets or hawks.

Poultry was also eaten, but was regarded as something of a luxury: chickens were kept primarily for their eggs, not meat. Hens, ducks, geese and even pigeons might be kept.

Fresh-water fish formed a significant part of the diet in some places. Wooden weirs were built across rivers to trap the fish. Pike, minnows and trout were caught, as were eels and lampreys. Sea fish were also caught by men going out in small rowing boats, though this was less common: herring, salmon and sturgeon. Some people hunted whales or dolphins. Shellfish, crabs and lobsters were also trapped or gathered.

Beer and ale were the most common drinks: low in alcohol content, and with a short shelf-life. Hops were not yet in use to flavour beer or prolong its life. Beer often had to be strained through a sieve before drinking!

Wine was more rare: grapes could be grown in Anglo-Saxon England, but only in sheltered southern locations. (The Domesday Book counted 38 vineyards in England, mostly small.) Like the beer, wine had to be drunk fairly quickly after its making; this was before the era of glass bottles and corks.

The alcoholic beverage of choice for those able to afford it was mead, made from fermented honeycombs. It was very sweet, but more importantly very high in alcohol content compared to the other drinks available. Kings and the heroes of legend were depicted as drinking mead in their great feasts.

There was no tea and no coffee.

There was no sugar either. Honey was used as a sweetener, but it was very expensive, to the degree that it was sometimes used in lieu of currency. Most honey was probably used to make mead.

As for cooking methods, as mentioned before not much is known beyond the basics.

Most cooking was done over open wood fires, and large joints of meat were probably spit-roasted. The Bayeux Tapestry shows meat being prepared both as a large roast being turned on a spit, and smaller pieces of meat, possibly rabbit, on individual skewers.

For smaller pieces of meat, grain and vegetables, a cooking pot was used. The pot might be metal or clay, and was either put directly on the fire or heated stones from the fireplace might be dropped into the pot. The Anglo-Saxon word briw, meaning 'broth' or 'stew', was used to describe meals prepared in this way. It seems that for poor people this was the standard diet; a broth, mostly of mixed vegetables (beans, peas, root vegetables), with bread dipped in it.

Ovens for baking bread were expensive, and only the wealthy had one. Poor people seem to have baked bread in a covered pan or under an upturned pot placed on a heated stone.

Famine was an ever-present danger in Anglo-Saxon England. Skeletal analysis shows widespread malnutrition among large segments of the population, while more serious crop failures could cause widespread death. However, the diet was healthy in other respects; the same skeletons show little evidence of tooth decay or deficiency of vitamins C (scurvy) or D (rickets).

What was English food like 1000 years ago?

Retrospectiva 2015

Vizitează articolul pentru mai multe informații.

Source: Retrospectiva 2015

The 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index – Home

The 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index – Home ^VK


My name is Jo Edkins. If you have any comments, criticisms, corrections or questions, please contact me – see index page.

I have been collecting minerals and rocks for several years, by buying them from shops rather than going on field trips. To start with, I liked their colours and shapes, but as I found out more about them, I became fascinated by their history, their use in technology, even their names.

Malachite I hope these pages will be useful to schools, both primary and secondary. I have tried to arrange the information in a clear and simple way, with lots of cross references and pictures. The index gives the minerals by groups, such as metal ores or jewelry. However, all the minerals are also on the alphabetical minerals list, which gives small pictures and links to each page. I have not included all possible information on the minerals. This is easily available in books, and if I copied it all out, I’d just make mistakes. Also long lists of information get rather boring. However, if a mineral has an interesting property, such as lead being heavy, or malachite being botryoidal, or calcite’s cleavage planes, then I say so, and describe what it means. There’s a glossary giving links to these descriptions.



Although alchemy is generally viewed as a precursor to science (and it has that role), it was so much more. Alchemy incorporates Hermetic principles which include ideas from mythology, religion, and spirituality. Below HJ Sheppard outlines the dualistic nature of alchemy as both external (in the material world) and internal (spiritual) practices.

Alchemy is the art of liberating parts of the Cosmos from temporal existence

     and achieving perfection which, for metals is gold, and for man, longevity,

     then immortality and, finally redemption. Material perfection was sought

     through the action of a preparation (Philosopher’s Stone for metals;

      Elixir of Life for humans), while spiritual ennoblement resulted from some

      form of inner revelation or other enlightenment.

the only notable remark about methodology is the famous passage from the General Scholium added in the second edition as a final, parting statement:

English: Isaac Newton's first edition of his P...

English: Isaac Newton’s first edition of his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have not as yet been able to deduce from phenomena the reason for these properties of gravity, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this experimental philosophy, propositions are deduced from the phenomena and are made general by induction. The impenetrability, mobility, and impetus of bodies, and the laws of motion and law of gravity have been found by this method. And it is enough that gravity should really exist and should act according to the laws that we have set forth and should suffice for all the motions of the heavenly bodies and of our sea. [P, 943]

Two aspects of the general thrust of the method are perfectly clear. First, Newton viewed it as contrasting with what was then called the method of hypotheses — that is, the method of putting forward hypotheses that reached far beyond the available data and then marshalling evidence for them by deducing testable conclusions from them.[58];

Second, Newton viewed the method as requiring that questions be regarded as open when empirical considerations had not yet yielded answers to them. Whatever may have been required for empirical consideration to establish a theoretical conclusion, and whatever the status, provisional or otherwise, any such established conclusion was supposed to have, Newton viewed the method as allowing — even mandating — that theoretical answers to some questions could be established even while other closely related questions remained in abeyance. In particular, to use Newton’s phrasing from the Scholium that ends Section 11, the physical species and physical proportions of forces could, in the appropriate sense, be established even though the question of their physical causes remained open. The clear aim of the method was accordingly to limit theoretical claims to “inductive generalizations,” as specified by the Rules of Reasoning, of conclusions dictated by experiment and observation. (Principia, Isaac Newton, Newton’s principia  1846)


by Valentin Chirosca


If you are not a socialist person, all socialist lessons about chemistry start appealing at scholastic “we know from Leucippus and Democritus that if you cut a pepper in the pieces the last piece is atomos “.

 With the work of Leucippus and Democritus ancient Greek philosophy reaches its zenith when the initial question of Thales after the true nature of matter culminated 180 years later in the subtle concept of atoms, which bears an amazing resemblance to the twentieth century’s view of chemistry. For this reason, Leucippus and Democritus have undoubtedly deserved the first price for the best guess in antiquity, as far as natural science is concerned. Unfortunately their contemporaries did not share their views with the same enthusiasm.


Forget the late invention of paper for European space, where is alchemy? Paracelsus split alchemy on iatrochemistry and magic.

“The familiar medical roots ‘-iatry, -iatrics, iatro-,’ and their variants traditionally have traced their etymology to the Attic Greek word for physician, ‘iatros’. This paper traces the etymology of ‘iatros’ itself. Proceeding stepwise through time, the article demonstrates the evolution and borrowing of the word from its immediate Archaic Greek predecessor, the ‘iatār’, and further back to its earliest Greek form in the Linear B inscriptions. Beyond the Greek, it is then demonstrated how the Linear B was a direct borrowing from the non-Greek Linear A, an earlier language of the Ancient Mediterranean. From there, the article examines the likely cognate forms in the even earlier Hittite, Egyptian, and Akkadian languages to the East. Ultimately the origin of the ‘iatros’, of our English root ‘-iatry’, is traced to the earliest recorded language, Sumerian, and the Sumerian word for physician, the ‘IA.ZU’.”
by Elliott B. Martin, MD

Iatrochemistry (or chemiatry) is a branch of both chemistry and medicine. Having its roots in alchemy, iatrochemistry seeks to provide chemical solutions to diseasesand medical ailments.

This area of science has fallen out of use since the rise of modern medical practices. However, iatrochemistry was popular between 1525 and 1660, especially in Flanders. Its most notable leader was Paracelsus, an important Swiss alchemist of the 16th century. Iatrochemists believed that physical health was dependent on a specific balance of bodily fluids.

Alchemists used plant products and arsenic to treat diseases. The medical chemistry of the 16th and 17th centuries gained the name iatrochemistry, coming from the Greek word for physician.”


The term is coined as Chymistry (1661) – the subject of the material principles of mixed bodies (Boyle)

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest Post: Homemade French Baguettes

English: Concept Map, which shows the differen...

English: Concept Map, which shows the differences between the tortillas Deutsch: Concept Map, welche die Unterschiede der Tortillas illustriert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a child, I would be recruited to help my mother make tortillas, and kneading a huge bowl of tortilla dough was tough work. Such tough work that 25 years later, I was still against the idea of kneading…well I do prefer tortillas!

CRM concept

Struktur des Open Source CRM XRMS

Image via Wikipedia

Customer relationship management (CRM) has been one of the most compelling operational concepts of the past 20 years. Beginning with humble roots in sales force automation, CRM has expanded to include a wide range of tasks, analytics and engagement tactics that maximize the value of the customer relationship and contribute to sustainable revenue growth.

Beginning with humble roots in sales force automation, CRM has expanded to include need to maximize returns on IT investments and align IT initiatives with business objectives. Now profit from IT.


A party that receives or consumes products (goods or services) and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers. See also buyer
Read more:


Customer of a professional service provider, or the principal of an agent or contractor.

Read more:

Word origins show the difference between a customer and a client as the client relationship being one of a dependent business person needing protection. For example, the origin of the word “customer” dates back to the Middle English of the 1400s and is related to the word “customs” as ways of doing things. The word “client,” on the other hand, was also a part of Middle English vocabulary, but it dates back even further. “Client” is derived from the Latin word cliens which means dependent or follower.


A connection between variables, such as a correlation, or between people, such as a marriage.
Read more:


The organization and coordination of the activities of an enterprise in accordance with certain policies and in achievement of defined objectives.
Read more:

Clear definition of strategy:

1. A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

2. The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use. The term is derived from the Greek word for generalship or leading an army. See also tactics.

Read more:

Here is a method:

An established, habitual, logical, or prescribed practice or systematic process of achieving certain ends with accuracy and efficiency, usually in an ordered sequence of fixed steps. See also scientific method and procedure.
Read more:

As strategy CRM encompasses everything companies use to manage customer relationships,including capture and analysis of customer information and analytics to leverage that data toward better sales performance.

Signs of Stability

Ifo economist Klaus Abberger said the survey showed Germany’s economic rebound was entering a new phase and losing some pace, with exporters somewhat skeptical over developments in the United States and China.
Another Ifo economist Gernot Nerb said the economic climate was very robust and improvements in the construction and retail sectors should help cushion the blow from slowing exports.

…orders rose 2 percent after the volatile transportation component was excluded, which was twice the amount expected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. Orders for July also were revised upward. Signs


“The durable goods orders are consistent with the recent string of economic data suggesting that the U.S. economy might be stabilizing,” Marc Chandler, the global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, wrote in a research note.

Dan Greenhaus, the chief economic strategist with Miller, Tabak & Company, said the number “bodes well” for the gross domestic product reading for the third quarter.


With #HootSuite, it’s business time all

With #HootSuite, it’s business time all the time. ^VK