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‘Dark Age Economics’ Revisited: The English Fish-Bone Evidence, 600–1600

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explains when an unambiguously low-value, high-bulk, product-marine fish-was first harvested and traded on a large scale in medieval England. It provides one measure of the character and chronology of the distinction between 'Dark Age' and high medieval economy. Previous work in Scotland has demonstrated the potential of fish-bone evidence to answer questions of this kind, and the chapter applies similar methods to the issue of economic change in medieval England and its European context. The chapter argues that the most important change in English fishing between AD 600 and 1600 occurred within a few decades of AD 1000 and involved large relative increases in catches of herring and cod, many of which were probably distributed by trade.

Keywords: dark age economics; English fish-bone assemblages; marine fishing; medieval England



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