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Study Examines Norman Influence on English Diet

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

CARDIFF, WALES—The Guardian reports that analysis of cooking pot residues and animal bones recovered from archaeological sites in England suggests that the consumption of pork and chicken increased after the Norman Conquest in A.D. 1066, while cabbage remained a diet staple. Before the arrival of the Normans, beef, lamb, mutton, and goat had been more widely consumed. Researchers also found a change in the chemical composition of the pig bones over time. Before the conquest, pigs were likely allowed to forage the countryside, but after the invasion, the animals were fed more protein, suggesting that farming practices intensified and pigs were kept in sties and fed scraps. The chemical composition of the bones of 36 men and women who lived between the tenth and thirteenth centuries indicates that they consumed about the same amount of protein and carbohydrate before and after the invasion, although there was a short period of dietary stress for a few years after 1066. Rickets, scurvy, and other bone conditions brought about by poor diet were rare, however, the researchers added. To read about a cache of silver pennies dating to this period, go to "Norman Conquest Coin Hoard," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2019.

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