The early medieval ‘agricultural revolution’ saw the advent of new, extensive forms of cereal farming that enabled landowners to amass wealth by exploiting the labour of others and supported the exceptionally rapid growth of towns, markets and populations. The spread of open-field farming in particular is regarded as one of the transformative changes of the Middle Ages, one that has left a clear mark on the landscape today.
Historians have, until now, had to rely on a small number of later medieval texts, post-medieval maps and scatters of potsherds associated with manuring. when investigating the ‘cerealisation’ of the early medieval countryside. The project ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England’ (FeedSax) addresses an ongoing debate regarding the origins and impact of open field farming in England from the perspective of bioarchaeology (the study of plant macrofossils, animal bones, and pollen). This talk presents an overview of some of FeedSax’s results, which constitute the first direct evidence for the conditions in which medieval crops were grown.
This event is part of a series of talks organised by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food
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Professor Helena Hamerow
Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology
Professor Helena Hamerow is Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology and Faculty of History, University of Oxford