Norman Conquest of 1066 did little to change people’s eating habits

Archaeologists from Cardiff University and the University of Sheffield have blended the most up-to-date scientific procedures to offer new insights into daily life through the Norman Conquest of England.

Right up until now, the story of the Conquest has generally been instructed from proof of the elite lessons of the time. But very little has been recognized about how it influenced every day people’s life.

The analysis workforce, which also involved teachers from the University of Bristol, utilized a range of bioarchaeological approaches to evaluate human and animal bones recovered from web sites throughout Oxford, together with ceramics utilized for cooking. Their outcomes recommend only quick-time period fluctuations in food items materials pursuing the Conquest which did not adversely affect the population’s overall overall health.

There is proof the Norman invasion led to far more managed and standardised mass agricultural practices. Pork grew to become a far more well-known option and dairy products were utilized significantly less. But on the total, a diet regime dominated by vegetables, cereals beef and mutton remained mainly unchanged.

Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology mentioned: “Inspecting archaeological proof of the diet regime and overall health of normal individuals who lived through this time presents us a detailed picture of their every day ordeals and existence. Irrespective of the big political and financial improvements that were taking place, our examination indicates the Conquest may possibly have only had a confined effects on most people’s diet regime and overall health.

“There is surely proof that individuals knowledgeable periods in which food items was scarce. But pursuing this, an intensification in farming intended individuals frequently had a far more continual food items provide and regular diet regime. Apart from pork turning into a far more well-known food items option, eating routines and cooking procedures remained unchanged to a substantial extent.”

Scientists utilized a system known as stable isotope examination on bones to evaluate 36 humans located in several locations around Oxford, which include Oxford Castle, who had lived amongst the 10th and 13th hundreds of years. Indicators from food items we take in are archived as chemical tracers in our bones, making it possible for scientists to investigate the high quality and range of a person’s diet regime long soon after they have died.

The workforce located that there was not a big variance amongst the overall health of the people, who were alive at various details right before and soon after the Conquest. Levels of protein and carbohydrate intake were related in the team and proof of bone problems associated to bad diet regime – this kind of as rickets and scurvy – were unusual. However, high resolution examination of tooth showed proof of quick-time period improvements in overall health and diet regime in early daily life through this transitional period.

Isotope examination was also utilized on sixty animals located at the very same web sites, to ascertain how they were lifted. Reports of pig bones located their eating plans grew to become far more regular and richer in animal protein soon after the Conquest, suggesting pig farming was intensified underneath Norman rule. They were possible residing in the town and currently being fed scraps in its place of natural vegetable fodder.

Fragments of pottery were examined making use of organic residue examination. When food items is cooked in ceramic pots, fats are absorbed into the vessel, making it possible for scientists to extract them. Assessment showed that pots were utilized to prepare dinner vegetables like cabbage as nicely as meat this kind of as lamb, mutton or goat throughout the conquest. Scientists say the use of dairy fats minimized soon after the Conquest and that pork or hen grew to become far more well-known.

Dr Richard Madgwick, centered in Cardiff University’s College of Heritage, Archaeology and Religion, mentioned: “To our information, this is the incredibly very first time globally that human osteology, organic residues examination and isotope examination of incremental dentine and bone have been blended in a single study.

“It is only with this ground breaking and numerous suite of procedures that we have been capable to tell the story of how the Conquest influenced diet regime and overall health in the non-elite, a relatively marginalised team until eventually now.”

The nutritional effects of the Norman Conquest: A multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, British isles, is revealed in the journal PLOS Just one.


Katie Bodinger

Communications & Internet marketing

Cardiff University

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