Commercial dairy production on medieval English demesnes: the case of Norfolk


en Anthropozoologica 16 - Pages 107-118

Published on 01 October 1992

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animals and their products in trade and exchange. Proceedings of the 3rd international meeting of HASRI, Oxford, 8-11 November 1990

Of the various pastoral types which may be recognized at the close of the thirteenth century, by far the most productive per unit area of food, and most intensive per unit of capital and labour, was cattle-based dairying. Prominent among the counties where dairying assumed its most developed form was Norfolk, a county also marked by high population densities and strong urban demand. Within this county the characteristics of dairy herds are described, the distribution of dairying demesnes considered, and the commercial production of cheese and butter demonstrated. The picture which emerges is shown to have important implications both for established views about the nature and role of pastoral husbandry within the medieval agricultural economy and for longer-term explanations of agricultural change.


Medieval Agriculture, Dairying, Demesnes, England, Norfolk.

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