[Sca-cooks] Foods available in early Anglo Saxon England

Gretchen Beck grm at andrew.cmu.edu
Mon Mar 24 14:06:46 PDT 2008

> Amy Cooper wrote:
>> I apologize, as this is only vaguely food related, since I'm actually
>> looking for dyestuffs...
>> I'm part of a team for Cloth of Gold in a couple weekends in Ealdormere.
>> We're doing an early Anglo-Saxon outfit from the southern part of what is
>> now England. There's not a lot of information out there that we can find
>> on what would have been used for dyes. We plan to make the argument that
>> if it was used for food, it likely would have been used for dyes (oh
>> hey, that stain is pretty! how can I replicate it?). I'm no clothing
>> expert, I'm just running with it as the foodie on the team. My question
>> is twofold:
>> 1) What berries (if any) would have been available?
>> 2) Would the Romans have brought beets with them?

And to answer question 2, I don't know if the Romans *brought* beets with 
them, but they were certainly know in Anglo-Saxon England. From the Oxford 
English Dictionary, s.v. Beet:

. A plant or genus of plants (family Chenopodiaceæ), having, in 
cultivation, a succulent root much used for food, and also for yielding 
sugar. There are two species, the Common or Red Beet (Beta vulgaris), found 
wild on the British coasts, and cultivated in several varieties, both as an 
esculent, and as an ornamental foliage plant, and the White Beet (B. 
cicla), chiefly used in the production of sugar. Formerly almost always 
spoken of in plural 'beets,' like beans, pease, greens, etc. Now usu. in 
sing. form, but the pl. form is still current in the U.S.

c1000 Sax. Leechd. II. 226 ás wyrta sindon..éa beeatra, béte and mealwe

OTOH, I saw a couple of websites that suggest that beets give more of a 
pink dye than a purple.

toodles, margaret

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