3.1 Fish markets

It seems that a wide variety of fish were consumed by the inhabitants of medieval Newcastle, and the richness of the deposits in terms of fish bones, in contrast to the paucity of fish remains from sites excavated in central Newcastle, suggests that the fish were probably marketed on or near the quayside.

There is documentary evidence from 18th- and 19th-century historians for fish markets in the locality of the Quayside, one at Stockbridge (Brand 1789, 386-99) just behind the Crown Court site, and another at Sandhill (Mackenzie 1827, 217) to the west of Queen Street. In modern times Newcastle has relied on the ports of North and South Shields, at the mouth of the Tyne, for its fish, but little is known about local fishing during the medieval period. One of the questions addressed in the analyses was therefore whether the remains could be interpreted as the remains from processing fish on the quayside.

3.2 Butchery marks

Examination of the material yielded little evidence of butchery from either site. Of the cut marks present, several could be interpreted as originating when extracting the tongue or removing the hook; for example cuts to the dentales, premaxillares, maxillares, vomer and articulares, of which there were several. Other cuts, including a longitudinally chopped parasphenoideum, and cuts to the ventral side of the basioccipitale, could have been the result of chopping the cranium to extract the brain. Superficial nicks to a couple of vertebrae could have resulted from filleting, although cuts to bones during filleting are unusual. Cuts to keratohyales and a symplecticum are less easy to explain, but may have resulted from the removal of flesh from the head, while a vertically sliced cleithrum and supracleithrale and nicks to radii branchiostegi and the dorsal side of a basioccipitale may have resulted form beheading. With the exception of the nicked basioccipitale, which was from a whiting (Merlangius merlangus), all the other cuts were to bones of large Gadidae.


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Last updated: Thu Dec 16 1999