Cod and Herring: The Archaeology and History of Medieval Sea Fishing [Paperback]

James Barrett (Editor); David Orton (Editor)

ISBN: 9781785702396 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 282p, H280 x W216 (mm) b/w and colour

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Cod and Herring


Quests for cod, herring and other sea fish had profound impacts on medieval Europe. This interdisciplinary book combines history, archaeology and zooarchaeology to discover the chronology, causes and consequences of these fisheries. It crosscuts traditional temporal and geographical boundaries, ranging from the Migration Period through the Middle Ages into early modern times, and from Iceland to Estonia, Arctic Norway to Belgium. It addresses evidence for human impacts on aquatic ecosystems in some instances and for a negligible medieval footprint on superabundant marine species in others (in contrast with industrial fisheries of the 19th–21st centuries). The book explores both incremental and punctuated changes in marine fishing, providing a unique perspective on the rhythm of Europe’s environmental, demographic, political and social history. The 21 chapters – by experts in their respective fields – cover a range of regions and methodological approaches, but come together to tell a coherent story of long-term change. Regional differences are clear, yet communities of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic, North and Irish Seas also followed trajectories with many resonances. Ultimately they were linked by a pan-European trade network that turned preserved fish into wine, grain and cloth. At the close of the Middle Ages this nascent global network crossed the Atlantic, but its earlier implications were no less pivotal for those who harvested the sea or profited from its abundance.

Table of Contents

List of contributors
Preface and acknowledgements
1. Studying Medieval Sea Fishing and Fish Trade: How and Why
James H. Barrett
Part I: Perspectives from History and Settlement Archaeology
2. Commercial Sea Fisheries in the Baltic Region c. ad 1000–1600
Poul Holm
3. The Early Documentary Evidence for the Commercialisation of the Sea Fisheries in Medieval Britain
Maryanne Kowaleski
4. Early Commercial Fisheries and the Interplay Among Farm, Fishing Station and Fishing Village in North Norway
Alf Ragnar Nielssen
5. The Development of the Norwegian Long-distance Stockfish Trade
Arnved Nedkvitne
6. The Birth of Commercial Fisheries and the Trade of Stockfish in the Borgundfjord, Norway
Helge Sørheim
7. Commercial Fishing and the Political Economy of Medieval Iceland
Orri Vésteinsson
8. The Character of Commercial Fishing in Icelandic Waters in the Fifteenth Century
Mark Gardiner
9. Marine Fisheries and Society in Medieval Ireland
Colin Breen
10. The Decline in the Consumption of Stored Cod and Herring in Post-medieval and Early Industrialised England: A Change in Food Culture
Alison Locker
Part II: Perspectives from Zooarchaeology and Stable Isotope Analysis
11. Fishing and Fish Trade During the Viking Age and Middle Ages in the Eastern and Western Baltic Sea Regions
Lembi Lõugas
12. Cod and Herring in Medieval Poland
D. Makowiecki, D.C. Orton, and J.H. Barrett
13. Herring and Cod in Denmark
Inge Bødker Enghoff
14. The Rise of Sea-Fish Consumption in Inland Flanders, Belgium
Wim Van Neer and Anton Ervynck
15. Fishing and Fish Trade in Medieval York: The Zooarchaeological Evidence
Jennifer F. Harland, Andrew K.G. Jones, David C. Orton and James H. Barrett
16. Fish for London
David C. Orton, Alison Locker, James Morris and James H. Barrett
17. The Social Complexities of Early Marine Fish Consumption: New Evidence from Southeast England
Rebecca Reynolds
18. Fish Trade in Norway ad 800–1400: Zooarchaeological Evidence
Anne Karin Hufthammer
19. Exploring the Contrasts: Fish-Bone Assemblages from Medieval Ireland
Sheila Hamilton-Dyer
20. Marine Fish Consumption in Medieval Britain: The Isotope Perspective from Human Skeletal Remains
Gundula Müldner
21. Medieval Sea Fishing, ad 500–1550: Chronology, Causes and Consequences
James H. Barrett

Reviews & Quotes

"Despite the large range, the volume has great coherence, expertly walking the reader through the key issues and providing insights into marine fisheries on a pan-European scale. Overall, the volume is an impressive compilation encompassing the work of a large number of specialists, and provides what researchers will doubtless use as a future framework for investigating marine exploitation during this era."
Sally Evans
European Journal of Archaeology (28/07/2017)

"…this collection of essays is likely to become an important marker buoy…"
Tim Pestell
British Archaeology (05/04/2018)

"This is an important volume, not only for those already interested in fishery history, but for those interested in the development of commercial activity in the Middle Ages and in the social history of diet … It is (as its editors, James H. Barrett and David C. Orton, rightly say) a ground-breaking volume in its combination of archaeological and documentary evidence and the new application of stable isotope analysis to archaeological deposits."
Wendy R. Childs
English Historical Review (30/03/2018)

"… [an] outstanding collection of articles that point the way forward in collaborative interdisciplinary marine historical ecology in the North Atlantic."
Thomas H. McGovern
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (26/09/2018)

"Cod and Herring is a specialised volume, but crammed with fascinating detail that will reward the general reader."
Brian Fagan
Current World Archaeology

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