Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The Changing Exploitation of Oysters (Ostrea edulis L. 1758) in Late Medieval and Early Modern England: A Case Study from Dudley Castle, West Midlands
Authors: Thomas, R
Law, M
Browning, E
Hill, A
Small, R
First Published: 24-Jan-2019
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge) for Association for Environmental Archaeology
Citation: Environmental Archaeology, 2019
Abstract: Analysis of over 4000 complete left oyster valves from late medieval and post-medieval Dudley Castle reveals the changing role of this perishable luxury over a 700-year period. Throughout the occupation, it seems that oysters were used as ingredients rather than served raw in the shell. A greater reliance on oyster consumption is apparent in the later fourteenth century, perhaps reflecting a more diverse diet amongst the aristocracy in the wake of the Black Death. An increased preference for mussels and whelks is also attested in the Tudor and early modern periods, reflecting changing perceptions of these foods. Overall, it is likely that natural beds were exploited throughout the time that oysters were being brought to Dudley Castle; however, the evidence demonstrates a shift from limited exploitation of natural inter-tidal sources in the eleventh century towards the dredging of sub-littoral beds in later periods, with some possible translocation of oyster stock. Changes in the shape, size and appearance of the oyster shells suggest the source locales from which the oysters derived changed through time. A notable shift occurred in the fourteenth century, which could reflect changes in supply brought about by altered tenancy at Dudley Castle and/or disruptions to trade brought about by the Black Death. Future biochemical analyses are recommended to provide greater clarity on the origin of those sources.
DOI Link: 10.1080/14614103.2018.1563373
ISSN: 1461-4103
eISSN: 1749-6314
Embargo on file until: 24-Jul-2020
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Association for Environmental Archaeology 2019. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until 18 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Dudley+oyster+shell+resubmission+final.pdfPost-review (final submitted author manuscript)1.53 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.