What’s cooking in Roman Worcester? (awarded 2018)

What did Romano-Britons eat when on the move; drovers, traders, itinerant workers and craftspeople, and those attending public gatherings at temples or amphitheatres? This is one of the questions explored by experimenting with the various types of non-domestic oven found on Roman sites in Britain. The ‘What’s cooking in Roman Worcester’ project, funded by the Roman Research Trust, investigated the use of a particular type of prefabricated oven and baking plate found during excavations at the Hive in Worcester (http://worcestershirearchaeology.org/wrr_010.pdf). Here, in situ ovens were associated with buildings alongside a road leading down to the river, where it is thought there may have been a crossing. The grant allowed the oven and baking plate to be reconstructed by Graham Taylor of Potted Histories, who also led a schools workshop, and then put to use by Roman food historian Sally Grainger at the King’s School fete (https://www.explorethepast.co.uk/2018/05/whats-cooking-in-roman-worcester/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JSmywqEiBk). The oven worked best for barbecuing meat, served with bread baked on the associated baking plate. It was fuel efficient and the food cooked quickly so many people could have been catered for. The project was supported by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and King’s School Worcester.