By C. E. Boucher
Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Vol.60 (1938)
Introduction: Plague, Pestilence and Famine, the familiar words of the English Litany, are so far removed from present day experience that they arose scarcely a passing though, but it was otherwise in medieval times. England experienced ten large scale visitations of famine and disease in the 11th century, twelve in the 12th century and eleven in the 13th century.
The relation between these famines and epidemics was close, as shortage of food vitally lowered the bodily resistance of the people. The country was dependent for its supplies on harvests. Storage of food on the large scale was difficult, and indeed almost impossible. Cattle had to be killed off in the late autumn and the meat salted down. The absence of fresh vegetables and fresh meat during the winter months, couple with scarcity of grain and a consequent insufficiency of vitamins fostered attacks on deficiency diseases, which were widespread in their distribution.