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The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest: a multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, UK

Craig-Atkins, Elizabeth, Jervis, Ben ORCID:, Cramp, Lucy, Hammann, Simon, Nederbragt, Alexandra J., Nicholson, Elizabeth, Taylor, Allie Rae, Whelton, Helen and Madgwick, Richard ORCID: 2020. The dietary impact of the Norman Conquest: a multiproxy archaeological investigation of Oxford, UK. PLoS ONE 15 (7) , e0235005. 10.1371/journal.pone.0235005

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Archaeology has yet to capitalise on the opportunities offered by bioarchaeological approaches to examine the impact of the 11th-century AD Norman Conquest of England. This study utilises an integrated multiproxy analytical approach to identify and explain changes and continuities in diet and foodways between the 10th and 13th centuries in the city of Oxford, UK. The integration of organic residue analysis of ceramics, carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis of human and animal bones, incremental analysis of δ13C and δ15N from human tooth dentine and palaeopathological analysis of human skeletal remains has revealed a broad pattern of increasing intensification and marketisation across various areas of economic practice, with a much lesser and more short-term impact of the Conquest on everyday lifestyles than is suggested by documentary sources. Nonetheless, isotope data indicate short-term periods of instability, particularly food insecurity, did impact individuals. Evidence of preferences for certain foodstuffs and cooking techniques documented among the elite classes were also observed among lower-status townspeople, suggesting that Anglo-Norman fashions could be adopted across the social spectrum. This study demonstrates the potential for future archaeological research to generate more nuanced understanding of the cultural impact of the Norman Conquest of England, while showcasing a method which can be used to elucidate the undocumented, everyday implications of other large-scale political events on non-elites.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributedunder the terms of the Creative CommonsAttribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproductionin any medium,provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: Royal Archaeological Institute, The Society of Medieval Archaeology, The Society of Antiquaries of London
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 6 June 2020
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 04:15

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