Welsh mead from 78-1200AD?

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A newspaper article stated (in quotation marks no less), that mead was the "chief alcoholic drink of the Welsh nation from Roman times until at least 1200AD"
does anyone know of a source for this claim, surely it can't be true, wouldn't beer be cheaper and more easily available to the masses?

I know it's a long shot, but someone might know!

The newspaper article that I am referring to was taken from here
a photo of the article is shown for reference; it's not important to my question.
 

mbc 

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A newspaper article stated (in quotation marks no less), that mead was the "chief alcoholic drink of the Welsh nation from Roman times until at least 1200AD"
does anyone know of a source for this claim, surely it can't be true, wouldn't beer be cheaper and more easily available to the masses?

I know it's a long shot, but someone might know!

The newspaper article that I am referring to was taken from here
a photo of the article is shown for reference; it's not important to my question.
One of the Caesars wrote that the Celts grew their moustaches long to filter out the bits in their mead, and the mead maker features quite strongly in the laws of Hywel Dda ~ 10th century.
 

Ian123 

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Don’t forget the importance of bees at that time as well and the human craving for sweetness. Plus the fact the wax was a clean source of light. Percentage wise probably more beekeepers then as well. I saw and interesting fact in an article a while back that suggested more land being cultivated back then than now. Ian
 

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A newspaper article stated (in quotation marks no less), that mead was the "chief alcoholic drink of the Welsh nation from Roman times until at least 1200AD"
does anyone know of a source for this claim, surely it can't be true, wouldn't beer be cheaper and more easily available to the masses?
Plenty of historical references to mead and mead making in Wales, as MBC states the Laws of Hywel Dda has a whole section on bees and mead makers. Hywel (known as the last King of the Britons, also patriarch of the Tudor dynasty - and an ancestor of mine) stated that bees were sacred animals as, for us to achieve salvation we needed candles to burn at the altar. Hywelian laws decreed that the mead maker was a revered person in the royal and manorial courts, higher status than a butler and was gifted with a new suit of clothing each Easter and other high holy days. The laws even stated values for swarms and colonies of bees.
 

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History has it that on a raid to steal pretty women* the local populace got the Viking invaders so drunk on Cyser that all the raiders drownd trying to get back to their longship.

Thor in all his fury at the Vikings stupidity turned the craft into stone... and today has a lighthouse upon it as it is a danger to shipping negotiating the Channel.

*One presumes the Viking ladies were not so pretty as the Cornish lasses!

I make honey cider.... better than Welsh mead by a country mile!


Yeghes da

( which in old Kernow means "your health"... Cheers!)
 

Ian123 

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History has it that on a raid to steal pretty women* the local populace got the Viking invaders so drunk on Cyser that all the raiders drownd trying to get back to their longship.

Thor in all his fury at the Vikings stupidity turned the craft into stone... and today has a lighthouse upon it as it is a danger to shipping negotiating the Channel.

*One presumes the Viking ladies were not so pretty as the Cornish lasses!

I make honey cider.... better than Welsh mead by a country mile!


Yeghes da

( which in old Kernow means "your health"... Cheers!)
The fact none of the local ladies became pretty enough to steal even after the vast quantities of alcohol would not be the best recommendation. Does folklore suggest how many sheep they stole😉
 

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The accounts in, for example, "Laws of Hywel Dda" would establish mead's production later (first written down in the 10th century but based on oral laws etc. handed down through generations) but do we have any accounts in or very close to the times of the Romans, say mid 1st to 4th century?
 

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The accounts in, for example, "Laws of Hywel Dda" would establish mead's production later (first written down in the 10th century but based on oral laws etc. handed down through generations) but do we have any accounts in or very close to the times of the Romans, say mid 1st to 4th century?
Yes, luckily a vindalanda tablet survived from 325 ad where a Roman soldier complains of a thumping hangover after overindulging in gallons of savage mead down the local, he asks his wife to send him alkaseltzers from londinium where she's staying with an aunt, it's all in pigeon Latin so I may be paraphrasing (or totally fantasizing!)
 

Ian123 

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There’s records for mead in Greek and Roman society and years before in Egypt. If it wasn’t already here they would have brought it with them and the knowledge to make it. Given humans likening for alcohol and records of trade/travel for this time it’s logical that the knowledge was here long before the Romans. Ian
 
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Apple 

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The fact none of the local ladies became pretty enough to steal even after the vast quantities of alcohol would not be the best recommendation. Does folklore suggest how many sheep they stole😉
No they were Vikings not the lot of rogues from north of the Bristol Channell!:music-smiley-023:
 

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Beer may have been drunk by 'the masses' but it doesn't mean that mead wasn't produced, or wine for that matter.
The earliest reference to mead is around 1100 BC but they have found evidence of honey derived drink in China way back in 700BC. It was said to be Aristotles favourite tipple and Pliny the elder mentioned it.
Aneurin's poem 'Y Gododdin' which relates the history of the battle of Catraeth in the 'old North' when we fought the English invaders in Catraeth, a Welsh kingdom South of Caer Edin (Edinburgh) around 600 AD gives more than mention of mead and the over indulgence of mead on the eve of the battle is given as the reason it was lost. He again mentions mead in his poem 'Kanu Y Med' (the song of the mead) Aneurin lived around the beginning of 600AD
There is also a reference to mead by the Hispanic-Roman naturalist Columella written in around 60AD where he passes the recipe on.
There are references to mead in Wales in the 5th century and mead, a popular drink in Ireland way back when was introduced by St Modomnoc who brought the bees (and the recipe for mead) over with him when he left the tutelage of St David.
I'm sure, if you made the effort you could find plenty of other references with very little research.
 

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As this YouTube video explains
the mead being drunk then wasn't really the same as we have now. The medieval mead only takes approx. a week to brew and is then ready to drink and as someone observes in the video comments this is known as "quick mead" (they added note: that was originally "quick" as in "not dead," rather than "rapid").

So it's in effect the equivalent of small beer which was also drunk so you could avoid drinking the local water which stories would suggest was contaminated in a lot of places and likely to give you nasty diseases.
 

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There are references to mead in Wales in the 5th century and mead, a popular drink in Ireland way back when was introduced by St Modomnoc who brought the bees (and the recipe for mead) over with him when he left the tutelage of St David.
I'm sure, if you made the effort you could find plenty of other references with very little research.
Good god man you mean Irish bees are not native, do you realise the sh1t storm this will create. 😉
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Good god man you mean Irish bees are not native, do you realise the sh1t storm this will create. 😉
:icon_204-2:
They were a gift from St David. Modomnoc, an Irish monk, was Dewi's beekeeper and when he returned to Ireland, some of the bees tried to follow him, whatever he tried, the bees kept following him so, Dewi gifted the bees to Modomnoc to bring back to Ireland.
 

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:icon_204-2:
They were a gift from St David. Modomnoc, an Irish monk, was Dewi's beekeeper and when he returned to Ireland, some of the bees tried to follow him, whatever he tried, the bees kept following him so, Dewi gifted the bees to Modomnoc to bring back to Ireland.
Is it possible do you think Murray is part welsh it could put a whole new slant on his sales
 

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Don’t forget the importance of bees at that time as well and the human craving for sweetness. Plus the fact the wax was a clean source of light. Percentage wise probably more beekeepers then as well. I saw and interesting fact in an article a while back that suggested more land being cultivated back then than now. Ian
A long time ago I read that we were great producers of beer and mead from the year dot. A chief ingredient is sugar and that had to come from the only source there was.....honey.
Up until about the early 17th century this island was a major player in bee farming. Mead wax and (I pressume) bees were exported into Europe.
The decline came about due to a few major events. One was the dissolution of the monasteries, that saw the main administrative centres being closed down. Another, mainly due to event one, was many wars that sprang up in the ensuing years. Exports collapsed so bee farming shrank back to a more 'rural' business.
 
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