Holy but not healthy? Fish-eating in the Middle Ages

feeding the five thousand British Library Arundel MS 157 f.7

The next lecture in the programme of the Medieval Section will be given by Associate Professor Iona McCleery of the University of Leeds who will speak about fish eating in the Middle Ages. Dr McCleery has kindly sent the following summary:- ‘Medieval people seem to have started to eat a lot of fish from the 11th century onwards (what archaeologists call the ‘fish event horizon’). This is usually explained as widespread adoption of strict Christian dietary rules and/or the development of deep sea fishing technology. However, from around the same time medieval medical writings began to view fish as unhealthy foodstuffs. This talk will explore the ambiguous role of fish in medieval culture, drawing in particular on medieval miracle narratives as sources for the complex relationships between medicine, spirituality and daily life.’

Iona McCleery is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Leeds (since 2007). She researches the history of medicine, food, healing miracles and late medieval Portugal and its early empire. Between 2010 and 2014 she ran the Wellcome Trust-funded project You Are What You Ate, which was a collaboration of Wakefield Council and the universities of Leeds and Bradford on the history, archaeology, science and representation of food.

The lecture will be held at 2pm in the Swarthmore Institute in Leeds on 11th November.