We are excited to welcome Dr Alice Rose to the project. Alice is a bioarchaeologist specialising in the isotopic analysis of archaeological skeletal remains. Before joining the FoodCult project, Alice completed her PhD and a Postdoctoral Research Associate position as part of the ‘After the Plague: Health and History in Medieval Cambridge’ project at the University of Cambridge. Alice will work at Durham University, with Prof Janet Montgomery and Dr Darren Gröcke, on the isotope component of the project. Human remains have already been sampled from a range of 14 burial sites relating to the early modern period. These include Carrickmines, Clogh Oughter and King John’s Castle. We look forward to sharing some exciting results.
As part of the brewing project, we developed some very exciting collaborations. One of these with Warminster Maltings, who made malt for the experiment. Bere barley was shipped to Warminster from Orkney and then malted using traditional floor malting techniques before being delivered to the brewers at the Weald and Downland Museum. Warminster’s pride themselves on using authentic historic methods and the malt produced was as close as we could get to a sixteenth-century equivalent.
We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Good Food Ireland, an innovative company that strives to promote Ireland’s unique culinary heritage at home and abroad. As part of this collaboration, we will be sharing our progress through the Good Food Ireland platform. This presents a unique opportunity to make new research in Irish food history available to a wide range of interests.
After almost three years of preparation, last week finally saw the completion of the brewing experiment at the Weald and Downland Museum. Four barrels of sixteenth-century beer are in the last stages of fermentation, having been brewed with carefully selected yeast, heritage grains, and period equipment. These will soon be moved to three different labs for analysis.
Prof John Morrissey at University College Cork, who researched and reconstituted the yeast will undertake analysis from a microbiological perspective. Prof Janet Montgomery at Durham University is examining the isotopes in the beer. She will measure the change in O-isotopes from cold water to beer. This will help better understand how oxygen isotopes are used to examine human mobility and migration. In addition, C,N and S-isotopes will be examined to better understand beer in dietary studies.
Finally, nutritional analysis is taking place at the School of Biosciences, Nottingham University, under the direction of Dr Stephen Lawrence. This will allow us to consider in great detail, the dietetic value of beer in early modern society.
The entire process has been filmed by Storylab at Anglia Ruskin University, under the direction of Dr Shreepali Patel. This film will show the immense interdisciplinary efforts involved in bringing this project to life, following the story all the way from the archive to the finished beer.
Results to follow soon…
In July, Susan travelled to Orkney with Shreepali Patel, Marques Hardin, Jamie Comer, Fabrizio Galeazzi, director and film crew from StoryLab at Anglia Ruskin, to film the first scenes from our forthcoming documentary on sixteenth-century brewing. Here we learned about bere, an ancient landrace barley, that our research shows was used for brewing in early modern Ireland.
We were delighted to meet Peter Martin and John Wishart at the Agronomy Institute in Kirkwall, Orkney who gave us a wonderful introduction to the conservation of this ancient crop.
We also had an opportunity to meet Lewis and Matthew at Swannay Brewery, who allowed us to observe and film the brewing process at a modern craft brewery. This was a great opportunity to learn about some of the challenges of brewing with bere, and to think about how the craft brewing process has (and has not) evolved since the early modern period.
We are pleased to announce that we will be presenting preliminary results from the project at two forthcoming conferences.
27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists
The conference takes place online and in Kiel, Germany. Meriel will present a paper on the emerging evidence for plant remains in the Mapping Diet database. This will focus on cereals and fruits to highlight the challenges and benefits of an interdisciplinary approach, key gaps in knowledge, and how the FoodCult project is addressing these issues.
Some of these preliminary results will also appear in a forthcoming publication:
McClatchie, Flavin and O’Carroll, “Unearthing a new food culture: fruits in early modern Ireland” in Valamoti et. al. eds. Cooking with Plants in Ancient Europe and Beyond: interdisciplinary approaches to the Archaeology of Plant Foods (Sidestone Press, forthcoming 2021)
4th Annual National Monuments Service archaeology conference: “Nexus: People and Places Through Time”
On the 18th October, Susan will present the preliminary results from the Brewing project which is due to run from 1st-19th September. The paper will focus on the interdisciplinary methods used by the team to recreate sixteenth-century beer, our findings with regards to the brewing process, and the quality of the end product, in nutritional terms.
On Tuesday March 23rd 2021, Susan will join food historians Allen J Grieco and Peter Scholliers in a panel discussion on ‘Food and Drink Cultures Through the Ages’. The discussion will be moderated by Beat Kümin, Professor of Early Modern European History and GRP thematic lead for ‘Food Cultures’ at the University of Warwick.
We are delighted to announce the publication of an article on the project’s aims and methods in the first issue of the new European Journal of Food, Drink and Society. Congratulations to Michelle Share, Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and Dorothy Cashman on a wonderful initiative, and the team looks forward to making further contributions to the journal in the future.