My research investigates the relationship between diet and subsistence, social identity, economy and migration in Anglo-Saxon England 650-850AD. This represents the first comprehensive attempt to interpret bio- and geochemical data on Anglo-Saxon populations in the context of social and political identity. The project evaluates the existence of a social hierarchy and the criteria by which it was governed, through an investigation of human dietary intake and population movements across ports, estate centres and rural sites. Food has long been accepted as an indicator and constructor of hierarchy, and recent advancements in biomolecular research have enabled the scrutiny of the human production and consumption of food.
Critical scholarship has largely neglected the interpretation of primary isotope data in terms of social factors such as status, age and gender. The discussion of these themes has been limited to 'traditional' approaches such as artefact and burial studies, quantification of faunal assemblages and examination of literary sources, at times in isolation from one another. This has served to obscure an accurate impression of Anglo-Saxon social dynamics. The aim is to achieve a more complete picture of social dynamics within Anglo-Saxon ports and their hinterlands, implied by the interpretation of documentary sources, faunal assemblages and burial evidence, ultimately informing wider research debates, such as whether existing economic and political models of Anglo-Saxon ports hold true in light of the emerging biomolecular data.
The approach here is interdisciplinary, utilising archaeological and historical evidence and primary bio-and geochemical analysis. Research questions are directed at the Anglo-Saxon port at Ipswich (Gipeswic) and its rural hinterland.