Diet: Recent Evidence from Analytical Chemical Techniques

Tamsin C. O'Connell and Bradley D. Hull

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Diet: Recent Evidence from Analytical Chemical Techniques

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  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology


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The evidence for Anglo-Saxon diet presented in this article is derived from stable isotope analysis (carbon and nitrogen), ceramic residue analysis, cess pit analyses, and other archaeological features. Archaeological floral and faunal records present some evidence for the types of food available for human consumption. Pottery residues (and other materials) can be informative about the preparing, cooking, and storing of food, providing an insight into specific foodstuffs consumed in the Anglo-Saxon period. Furthermore, isotopic evidence for the Anglo-Saxon diet is explored at a large scale, and then investigates isotopic variation in conjunction with other factors. Three themes of variation — social, geographic, and chronological — are mentioned. The Anglo-Saxon stable isotope results indicate a mainly terrestrial diet, with medium to high amounts of animal protein intake depending on period/cemetery. The overall consistency of the Anglo-Saxon diet lies in the comparison with contemporaneous continental sites.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon diet; stable isotope analysis; carbon; nitrogen; ceramic residue analysis; cess pit analyses

Article.  8114 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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