Food and Drink

The diet of the average Anglo-Saxons would have been mostly bread and ale.

loafOf course, the story is more complicated than that! The Anglo-Saxons kept cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese and chickens. These provided them with meat, eggs and milk, as well as cheese and butter. Horse- and dog-meat, then as now, seem to have been taboo. They kept bees for honey, which provided the only sweetener for all but the very rich.

turnipThey grew spelt, wheat, rye, barley and oats as the main cereal crops. Peas, beans, leeks, carrots, onions and turnips were grown for vegetables, and a wide variety of herbs was cultivated to flavour their food.

They gathered various fruits, nuts, berries and mushrooms in the ‘wild harvest’. They hunted, trapped or shot* birds, wild deer, boar, hare, fox, beaver and squirrel.

They caught trout, salmon, eels, perch and pike, using nets, traps, or a rod and line, and they harvested the sea for anything they could catch. At low tide, they collected cockles, scallops and oysters, which were traded far inland.seafood

They collected salt, and richer folk bought imported pepper and other delicacies such as olive oil, dates, figs, raisins, almonds, even rice and sugar.
meadThey drank mead, beer/ale and later in the period wine,  there were a few local vineyards.  Hot drinks were made with milk, honey, and using beer or herbal infusions.  Of course, water would have been available from the local stream or well.

Anglo-Saxons did without such things as tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas, potatoes and many other things we take for granted today.

*with bow or sling!