Volume 115, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 111-166
Food plants, fruits and foreign foodstuffs: The archaeological evidence from urban medieval Ireland (Article)
Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, Connolly Building, Dyke Parade, Ireland
The historical record is largely used to qualify the consumption of cultivated crops, and other foodplants, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs and imported goods in the medieval Irish diet. Despite our rich literary sources, evidence for horticulture as well as the use of collected and exotic foodstuffs in medieval Ireland is still under-represented, and the remains of such plants rarely survive to make any inferences on the subject. The increase in archaeobotanical research in Ireland is producing a valuable archaeological dataset to help assess the nature, composition and variation of food plants in the medieval diet. Botanical remains preserved in anoxic deposits provide a unique snapshot of the diversity of plants consumed at a site, including information on processing techniques, storage and seasonality. With particular reference to urban medieval sites dating from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, this paper will present and appraise the archaeological evidence for the use and consumption of cultivated, wild and imported foodstuffs, and the areas of research that still need to be addressed. © 2015 Royal Irish Academy.