The role of stored fish in England 900-1750AD; the evidence from historical and archaeological data
This thesis examines the historical and archaeological data for the consumption of herring and the gadid fishes (primarily cod, haddock, whiting, ling and hake) as stored fish cured by salting, drying and smoking. The thesis is divided into three parts, in the first part the historical evidence for developing fisheries, storage methods, marketing and consumption is discussed with an evaluation of the nutritional changes to the fish as a result of storage. In part two factors affecting fish bone preservation and recovery are presented and the authors own recording criteria. A new methodology is introduced using the documented data for portions and rations from monasteries and the forces, showing herring and the gadids by volume offish eaten compared with the number of bones counted. Distribution of body parts as evidence for stored and fresh fish in the large gadids, hitherto only used to show processing is adapted for application to the data sample which largely represents consumption. In part three the 20 sites comprising the data sample are described. Portion and body part methods are applied to the herring and gadid bones from these assemblages. In the majority of sites herring predominate by number of bones, by portion cod becomes the primary fish in many cases. Evidence for stored cod, ling and hake were found by body part distribution in many assemblages. The results of this study have shown that the archaeological data when expressed as a volume of fish supports the historical evidence for cod as the prime fish among these species, both as fresh and stored. Fish assemblages transcribed into portion from bone numbers present fish as a volume of food and often relegate herring, excessively favoured by bone numbers, into a subsidiary position.