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Mediaeval cereal yields in Catalonia and England: an empirical challenge

Mediaeval cereal yields in Catalonia and England: an empirical challenge

By Peter J. Reynolds

Acta historica et archaeologica mediaevalia, No.18 (1997)

Introduction: The object of this paper is to explore the nature of the cereal yields in the Mediaeval period and to provide a comparison of actual yields between a zone in north-east Spain and central southern England. The problem essentially pivots on the widely quoted but minimally sourced documentary references for this period which indicate a ratio of seed input : output yield which varies from one:three to one:ten. There is, of course, no value in decrying these references but there is real point in questioning their exact meaning and where the calculation of yield might be in the post-harvest cycle of grain disbursement. In order to elucidate the problem further a series of continuing empirical trials have been carried out since 1991 at the mediaevai site of L’Esquerda, Roda de Ter in the Plana de Vic. In these trials the typical cereals as determined by the archaeological data have been grown according to the accepted evidence of mediaeval agricultural practice of two and three year field rotations of fallow, cereal and beans and cereal and fallow.

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