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History Cookbook

Saxon and Viking Picture Gallery Food

1
The Saxon and Viking diets were quite varied
The Anglo-Saxon and Viking diets were probably very similar.
The Vikings probably ate more meat. Both farmed the land, kept some livestock and hunted and fished for their food. More
2
Lack of food led to the Viking raids.
Lack of food in Scandinavia saw the Vikings raid Europe.
One of the reasons that the Vikings raided Europe in the first place was that they found it difficult to produce enough food for their needs in the harsher climate of Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark and Sweden). More
3
The Anglo-Saxon diet appears to have been quite healthy
The Anglo-Saxon diet appears to have been wholesome (good for you) and varied. 
Adding variety to the diet were eggs, milk and cheese, as well as nuts, fruit and fungi in season. More
4
The Vikings assimilated foods from the cultures they conquered
Vikings often absorbed the cultures of others and made best use of foods available.
Their influence is probably best seen in the Scottish diet and, to a lesser extent, that of Northern England. More
5
Honey was used as a sweetener and to make mead
Honey was used for sweetening foods and making mead.
Sugar had not been discovered in the time of the Anglo-Saxons or Vikings, so they sweetened their puddings with honey and dried fruits. Honey was also fermented to make their most important drink - mead. More
6
Drying and salting were the only ways to preserve food
Drying and salting were the main ways of preserving foods.
A great deal of food was dried and stored for the coming winter. Salted meat and fish added variety to the diet in winter, when fresh meat was not available. More
7
A lot of cooking was done outside
A lot of cooking may have been done outside.
Most homes had an open fire in the middle of their one room, and there was always a risk of the wooden buildings catching fire. More
8
The Saxons and Vikings grew wheat, barley and rye
The main crops grown by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings were wheat, barley and rye.
This has been deduced from careful examination of pollen and carbonised grain from middens (toilet areas). This was also grown over much of Europe at this time. The main type of wheat grown was einkorn wheat. More
9
Grains were used to make foods and drinks
Cereal crops were used in a variety of ways to make both food and drink.
Rye and barley were grown for grain to make flour or fermented to produce beer. They would also be boiled and eaten in soups and stews. More
10
Other foods were grown in the village or collected from the forests
Other foods were either grown in the village plots or collected from the wild.
It is not clear if root crops, like onion and white carrot (a pale parsnip variety of carrot), were cultivated or if they grew wild and were collected. More
11
Many more plants were eaten than we use today

Many more plants were used for food than are eaten today.
Crab apples and rosehips were used along with sloes and bilberries. Herbs, such as wild garlic, sorrel and lamb's tongue grew wild but others like mint and mustard were grown near the house for daily use.

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12
Many foods were cooked by boiling
Many foods would be cooked in water in a large pot or cauldron over a fire.
They would also have had simple clay ovens for baking bread. Other foods such as small cakes or pancakes would have been cooked on a big iron skillet, or hanging griddle, over an open fire. More
13
Anglo-Saxons ate a lot of bread
It is thought that Anglo-Saxons ate a lot of bread. It was served with almost every meal.
Bread was made from wheat, rye or mixtures of rye and barley. At times of bad harvest, acorns and beans would be added to the grains to make a coarse bread. At first, the grain would have been ground using small rotary querns; later, this period saw the development of water mills for grinding corn. More
14
Some spices may have been used on special occasions
Some spices would have been known to them and used on special occasions.
The seafaring Vikings traded across a great area and spices would have been known to them. The Anglo Saxons were farmers, but they traded too and a well-off farmer might have used spices, such as cinnamon, on special occasions. More
15
Saxon meals would have been fairly simple but feasts were great occasions
Saxon meals would have been fairly simple but there would be feasts on special occasions.
Meals for a typical Anglo-Saxon farmer would have included rye bread, cheese, skimmed milk, watery ale or mead in the morning and, in the evening, a stew of beans and vegetables with perhaps a little meat added to the cooking pot. More
16
Breakfast would have been a kind of porridge, the main meal was at night
In the Viking communities, the main meal of day was eaten at nightfall.
The Vikings would have been up and at work many hours before returning for a breakfast of barley or oatmeal porridge and buttermilk, together with crusty loaves of barley and rye. For the main evening meal, some kind of roasted or boiled meat would be included. More
17
Food was eaten from bowls using knives, spoons and fingers
The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings ate from wooden bowls using spoons, knives and their fingers.
Food was washed down with mead or beer from tankards or drinking horns. Utensils would have been simple but the Saxons and Vikings were also skilled at crafts and a feast would have looked very special. More

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