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French love of pork was passed on to the English after the Norman Conquest of 1066, archaeologists discover

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Howsithangin

French love of pork was passed on to the English after the Norman Conquest of 1066, archaeologists discover

 

By IAN RANDALL FOR MAILONLINE  03:39 EDT, 7 July 2020

The Norman Conquest of 1066 did little to change the English diet — but pork did become more popular in its aftermath, archaeologists have discovered.  Researchers from Bristol, Cardiff and Sheffield Universities studied human remains, animal bones and ceramic cookware from Oxford around the time of the invasion. 

In fact, the findings indicated that the Norman invasion resulted in more controlled and standardised practices of mass agriculture. While vegetables, cereals, beef and mutton remained as popular as before the upheaval, however, dairy products appear to have been used less afterwards. Alongside this, pork became a more popular dietary choice as the elite tastes of the Normans became established in England and trickled down to the general public. 

The findings offer a rare glimpse into how the occupation affected the lives of everyday people — rather than just relying on evidence from the elite classes. The team found evidence only for short-term disruptions in food supplies as a result of the Conquest, to no adverse effect on the health of the English people.

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In their study, Dr Craig-Atkins analysed the remains of 36 humans who had been unearthed from various sites around Oxford — including Oxford Castle and Christ Church's Tom Quad — and date back to between the 10th and 13th centuries.

Alongside the analysis of the human remains, the team also examined the bones of 60 animals — including cows, pigs, sheep and goats — that were found at the same sites, in order to determine how they had been raised. 

By analysing the stable isotopes preserved within the bones, the team were able to learn about the quality and variety of diets before, during and after the Norman Conquest of England.   The team found that the diets of pigs became more consistent and richer in animal protein — both signs that pig farming was intensifying under Norman rule. Pigs, the researchers explained, were likely kept in the town and fed on scraps rather than their natural vegetable fodder.

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