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Bronze and Iron Age

For the large majority of people living in the Bronze Age to the mid-Iron Age (about 2,500-100 BC) meals were commonly stews, porridge and soups cooked in open pots, probably accompanied by bread.  Eating might have been communal, with the food served in a single bowl from which many people ate.  Wooden spoons are rarely found, so people may have dipped into the bowl with pieces of bread.  Of course, wood's organic nature, and thus tendency to decompose, might simply mean they have not survived in the archaeological record.

With continental influences, the way of cooking and eating changed in south-eastern England from 100 BC onward.  In other parts of Britain, however, they carried on until several generations after the Roman Conquest (AD 43).  In most of Scotland and other parts of Britain never directly controlled by the Romans, Iron Age ways of cooking and eating persisted throughout Roman times.  For most people the pattern of life simply continued uninterrupted - regardless of who was "in charge".

Meat from sheep, cattle, pigs, horses and dogs were all eaten in Iron Age Britain.  Strangely, however, the evidence from archaeology suggests wild animals and fish were rarely eaten in southern Britain.  Cereals such as wheat and barley were probably the main source of food for the majority of Iron Age people being consumed in the form of bread, porridge and beer.  Beans, some vegetables and wild plants were similarly eaten.

Some Recipes

You can find many and varied Iron Age recipes reproduced on many other websites and in books.  For those seeking more information, Jacqui Wood's book "Prehistoric Cooking" (published by Tempus; ISBN: 978-0752419435) is an excellent source.  Based on the author's experimental archaeology, this superb book describes the ingredients of prehistoric cooking and the methods of food preparation.

Somewhat confusingly the term "Iron Age" can be applied to the classical Greek and Roman periods. So, the recipes that we have included on Tastes Of History's Blog are representative only of those eaten by Iron Age Britons.