University of Leicester archaeologists identify ingredients for medieval dishes served during King Richard III’s reign

Museum volunteers recreate medieval recipes using University research for an event at Jewry Wall Museum on Sunday 22 March

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have lent their expertise towards a series of medieval recipes designed to provide insight into the culinary dishes that may have been served up during the reign of King Richard III.

Margaret Adamson, a volunteer with the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum, has come up with a series of recipes based on archaeological finds and documentary research on ingredients found in Leicester by ULAS.

University of Leicester archaeologists identify ingredients for medieval dishes served during King Richard III’s reign
A selection of these dishes, including a medieval vegetable soup called pottage and Bosworth jumbles – or biscuits - will be available to taste during a free public event at the Jewry Wall Museum on Sunday 22 March to coincide with the first day of the reinterment of King Richard III.

Margaret said: “These foods are examples of what may have been available at a local inn, such as the Blue Boar Inn, for ordinary people.

“There are some medieval recipe books and written accounts which tell us about food mainly for the rich and a display of replicas showing examples of these will also be on show and will remain at the museum until Sunday 29 March.”

Angela Monckton, Consultant in Environmental Archaeology for ULAS, said: “Specialists at ULAS have identified a number of ingredients and food types available in Medieval Leicester, mainly from environmental archaeology which involves sieving soil samples from excavated sites to examine for microscopic plant and animal remains.

“The plant remains include cereal grains and seeds which can be identified to find the crops, herbs and vegetables present at different periods of time.

“Animal remains include fish bones and scales of freshwater and sea fish, and bird bones together with animal bones as food remains. These results have been collected from a number of sites over the years, particularly from the Highcross excavations in Leicester.

“Seeds and cereal grains can be preserved by charring if burnt accidently, while organic remains can become mineralised by the sewage in cesspits – a sure way of finding out what was eaten – both of which are common in Leicester.”

Following previous success with a recipe booklet entitled ‘A Taste of Roman Leicester’, Angela and Margaret are working on a follow up booklet called ‘A Taste of Medieval Leicester: Food fit for a King?’ which should be available to visitors of the museum in the summer.

Margaret added: “I have used what is known about local ingredients and old recipes to imagine what food may have been served at a local inn to visitors to the town. Food history is very important because without food there would be no history.”

Margaret’s Medieval tasting will take place from 11.30am to 3.30pm on Sunday 22 March at Jewry Wall Museum, the same day King Richard III’s coffin will leave the University and begin its journey to Leicester Cathedral.

The free public event ‘Medieval Leicester and King Richard III’ will also feature a demonstration of a knight dressing for battle, the history of the Battle of Bosworth, medieval music, craft activities for children and much more.

The food display will remain at the museum until Sunday 29 March to mark the end of the reinterment week.

Event date: 
Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 00:00
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