Anglo-Saxon Food Facts: What Did the Anglo-Saxons Eat?

Here are some facts about Anglo-Saxon food and drink.

  • The Anglo-Saxons enjoyed their food and drink, and often ate meals in the great hall, a building in the centre of the village.
  • Food was cooked over a large fire in the middle of the house.

  • Many people ate mostly vegetables because meat was very difficult to get. Wild animals could only be hunted and killed by those whose land they were on.
  • However, pigs were kept and killed for pork. Cows were kept for milk, although sheep were kept just for their wool.
  • Many people drank a sweet alcoholic drink called mead, made from honey. Wine was imported from other countries in Europe, and was mostly drunk by rich people.
  • Cabbages, carrots, parsnips, onions and beans were the most commonly used vegetables. Vegetables were mostly boiled or fried.
  • Spices were used to add flavour to Anglo-Saxon food. Dill, thyme and coriander may have been grown and more exotic spices as ginger, pepper and cinnamon were imported by the rich.
  • Fish was popular in Anglo-Saxon England and it was eaten fresh, or preserved by salting, smoking or drying. Most people ate a lot of shellfish as well, and shellfish may have been exported to other parts of Europe.
  • Wild fruits were also popular in Anglo-Saxon food and cooking, such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Apples were widely eaten and may have been used to make cider.
  • Most Anglo-Saxon meals included freshly baked bread, which was made much the same way as it is today.
  • At large gatherings and feasts, musicians played during the meal and people told stories.
  • Stew was one of the most commonly eaten meals by the common people. It would have been made from whatever vegetables were available.
  • Some of the meals eaten by the Anglo-Saxon nobility consisted of up to 12 courses.
  • The Anglo-Saxons ate with spoons and sharp knives.

What next? Learn more about the Anglo-Saxons by visiting our resources page.