Everyday life in the hillfort from the second half of the 10th century to the second half of the 13th century

XI. Diet of medieval hillfort’s inhabitants

The flavours of that time were completely different than today – this was due to the fact that dishes were seasoned mainly with herbs. Salt was expensive and was more likely to be used to preserve meat than as a seasoning. Pepper, in turn, was a luxury good – there is no need to mention other spices known today. Honey was used for sweetening.

Most of the population was engaged in farming, breeding, gathering and fishing.

Rye, barley, oats and wheat were cultivated, as well as flax and hemp. Millet was one of the most popular cereals, from which millet groats were obtained.

Crops harvested in those conditions were low. Only 2-3 grains were obtained from one ear of wheat, rye, barley or oats. Almost half of the harvest was used for re-sowing. Wild plants supplemented the diet. From properly hulled, often crushed grains, various types of groats were obtained, which were eaten with the addition of mushrooms or vegetables. Different types of soups were also prepared from cereal grains. On the other hand, flatbreads were made from wheat flour with the addition of water. Wheat was not grown much and was more expensive than other cereals.

Commonly consumed vegetables were broad beans and peas. Cucumbers, cabbage, lentils, carrots, onions, dill, turnips and garlic were also eaten. Some of these vegetables were not cultivated at all, but harvested wild in meadows or forests. They were sometimes eaten on their own, but more often they were added to groats and soups.

The diet also included fruit: apples, plums, cherries, sweet cherries, raspberries, blueberries, pears and peaches. They were cultivated or harvested growing wild in forests and fields. Hazelnuts and even walnuts were also known.

Meat was not a widely consumed product. In Santok, pork was eaten most often. The then small pigs were grazed semi-wild in the forests (until around the 11th century). Oxen and cows were mainly used as draft power. Sheep and goats as well as geese and chickens were also bred. Fish was widely caught and eaten.

Mostly water was drunk. Beer was also a popular drink. They were then made from barley, rye or wheat. Hops began to be added much later. The beer of that time was cloudier than today’s and non-carbonated. They were often diluted with water or mixed with honey. Little wine was drunk, as vineyards began to be planted gradually after the adoption of Christianity. The milk of goats and sheep – less often cows – was used to make cheese, and it was mainly given to children to drink.

Activities of the hillfort’s inhabitants

The hillfort was controlled by the castellan, who was subordinated to a team of warriors acting as guards. Religious services were initially performed by the parish priest, and from the moment the prepositureship was established – it was handled by the prepositure together with the canons. The inhabitants of the hillfort were engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing. Women spun wool, weaved, worked on the farm, helped in the fields. Gradually, workshop specialisation followed. A special place in the community was occupied by blacksmiths, shoemakers, horn makers, potters, as well as craftsmen involved in the acquisition and processing of wood – lumberjacks, carpenters, and shipbuilders.