A brief history of plant foods in the city of York

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


  • A. Hall
  • E. White (Editor)


Publication details

Title of host publicationFeeding a city: York. The provision of food from Roman times to the beginning of the twentieth century
DatePublished - 2000
Number of pages19
PublisherProspect Books
Place of PublicationDevon, UK
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)1903018 021


'It may just be the contents of a cesspit to you, but it's my bread and butter!' With these words, I have frequently tried to laugh off the slight embarrassment I feel when explaining what I do for a living to those who ask. Within archaeology, the idea of sifting through the contents of a cesspit in search of evidence for past food rarely ranks as a curiosity any more, but in the wider world surprise is sometimes expressed that anyone should either want to undertake such work or be paid for doing it. What I hope to do in this short contribution is to try to conjure up some of the flavour - if that is an appropriate metaphor - of archaeobotanical studies of ancient foods in York, drawing on a corpus of data collected over a period of more than two decades (though a large proportion of it still, sadly, unpublished, and likely to remain so) from deposits of almost all cultural periods from Roman to post-medieval, but with a very heavy emphasis on the second to third, ninth to eleventh, and thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Bibliographical note

Reproduced with permission.

    Research areas

  • history of food, archaeobotany

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