History meets cooking at medieval food event

Dr Giles Gasper, Professor MIchael Prestwich and Andy Hook at Blackfriars Restaurant.
Dr Giles Gasper, Professor MIchael Prestwich and Andy Hook at Blackfriars Restaurant.
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HISTORY-LOVERS will be given food for thought as they take a step back in time.

A joint event between Durham University and Blackfriars Restaurant is to offer a rare glimpse – and taste – of the reality of life in a medieval castle.

Professor Michael Prestwich, from Durham University, will give a talk at the restaurant, Castles And Their Food, and will explain how castles were supplied with foodstuffs and what these consisted of by referring to the surviving records.

The talk, accompanied by classic medieval fare, is the latest in an ongoing series organised by Blackfriars in Newcastle and Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (IMRS).

He said: “Castles in medieval times emphasised the symbolism of power. The question of their food supply is essential in understanding this role because for any fortification to achieve its military purpose, it needed to feed its inhabitants and be able to hold out against blockade.

“A castle without sufficient stores, no matter how massive its walls or how powerful its gatehouse, would have been hopelessly vulnerable.

“I’ll be explaining how the dozens of bacon pigs and ox carcasses, hundreds of dogfish, cheeses and mixed malts we find in the records tried to prevent this vulnerability.

“That’s not to mention the massive amounts of ale drunk in place of water, which was considered unsafe, even the sisters of St Leonard’s Hospital in York were on seven gallons a week.”

The event takes place at 11am on Saturday, October 27, at Blackfriars Restaurant. Tickets cost £25. To book, visit www.blackfriarsrestaurant.co.uk or phone 261 5945.

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