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p-pigs-msg - 8/10/18


Medieval pigs. Modern efforts to preserve older breeds. Differences between period and modern livestock.


NOTE: See also the files: butchering-msg, pig-to-sausag-art, rabbits-msg, horses-msg, fishing-msg, livestock-msg, cattle-msg, whole-pig-msg, pork-msg, larding-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is unclear  at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: Uduido at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 18:51:30 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: sca-cooks Fatty meat


<< Possible, but it seems to me equally likely that modern meat animals are

MORE fatty.  >>


Modern breeds of cows and chickens are, indeed more fatty, however, modern

pigs are decidedly LESS fatty. Until the early part of this century pigs were

specifically raised for fattiness, as lard was essential to cooking and

preserving and was generally used to make anything we would now use vegetable

shortening or cooking oil in.


(REF: The 1975 USDA Agricultural Yearbook (That We May Eat), "Streamlining

the Hog, an Abused Individual by Ruth Steyn; pgs.133-138)



Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 09:47:31 EDT

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Pork/Lard in Platina-Some proof


This excerpt occurs in Platina, 'On Right Pleasureand Good Health', A Critical

Edition and Translation of De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine by Mary Ella

Milham. (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Vol 168. The Renaissance

Society of America, Renaissance Texts Series, Vol. 17. 1998)


On Right Pleasure, Book II,  pg. 163


21. On Pork Cuts


...............The pig is surpassed by no other animal in fat. Varro affirms

he saw a pig in Arcadia which not only could not get up because of its gross

fatness but could not even drive away a mouse which had made a nest by

nibbling its flesh and had borne baby mice..........


When a pig is a year old, it is fit for salting............From it you can

take lard at will.......Fat pork meat , not only fresh but salted, although it

arouses the taste-buds, is still entirely dangerous and of bad juice, as

Celsus says. (NOTE:Celsus Med.2.18.10 and 20.2 seem rejected by Platina, for

Celsus considers the fat meat nutritious.)


22. On Fat


Fat is made from the fat of a pig or geese in this way: put finely cut fat in

a pot over live coals so that it does not absorb smoke as if you had put it

over flame. Put in as much salt as you think is enough. When it has melted and

before it cools, strain it into a collection jar, and lay it away for use so

you can use it when you wish. This is also made from the fat of goose and hen.

- ----------------------------------------------


To me this clearly indicates that Italian pigs in the 1460's and earlier were

FAT. And it indicates that the fat was rendered into lard. I know not what the

English barbarians have in the way of pigs but I would suspect that English

and Italian pigs were not too much different. :-)





Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 09:11:34 -0600

From: Marc Carlson <marc-carlson at utulsa.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - period pigs, fatter or not?


<"Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>>

>The difference as I see it is foraging as opposed to grain fed.  For most of

>"period", pigs were foragers, with possibly a little grain feeding before



I'm not sure I want to get too much into this, since my interest in

medieval piggery is fairly limited at this time (I'm still a bit more

focused on the cattle thing), but my understanding from things like Jay

Anderson's _"A solid sufficiency" : an ethnography of yeoman foodways in

Stuart England_ and such is that this more or less the case.  You bring in

your pigs for the winter starting in September and October, but for the

most part they feed on whatever "mast" they can root out for themselves.

The surplus animals that you are going to sell (starting at Michaelmas) you

fatten up on "pease". (Thomas Tusser).


While I have not read these, I've had suggested to me


(forthcoming)  Malcolmson, Robert W.  The English pig : a history.  London

; Rio Grande, OH : Hambledon Press, 1998


The Sheep and pigs of Great Britain : being a series of articles on the

various breeds of sheep and pigs of the United Kingdom, their history,

management, etc. London : "The Field" Office, 1877


Stuart, Rob. Pigs, goats and poultry, 1580-1660 Bristol : Stuart Press,



Wiseman, J. (Julian) A history of the British pig London : Duckworth, 1986




I. Marc Carlson

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa -or- Tulsa Community College West

Campus LRC



Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 23:07:26 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - Period pigs,-the final word for a while


<LrdRas at aol.com>

>Thank-you, m'lord for posting these references. As soon as I get my grubby

>hands  on these tomes and go over them I will post a synopsis and my



You are welcome.  If it's of any furlther help, I did some rooting

around (much of it at "www.ansi.okstate.edu/swine" and it looks to me

like tracing the medieval pig breeds will be even more tricky than

the Cattle.  For one thing, the terms are deceptively similar, although

difference (for example: "Landrace" in cattle is a general term for an

unimproved ancetral breed, whereas in swine it is used to refer to a

specific breed, first found in Denmark in the 1890s, and the various

national breeds that derive from them).


It does appear that reproducing medieval pigs may be a bit of a problem

since the larger pigs we have today seem to be descended from an influx

of Chinese pigs in the 1700s.  You might look at the Welsh, the Tamworth

(which is probably derived from the "Old English Hog", the Berkshire

(which purports to date back to Cromwell), and the Ossaban Island Hogs,

in Georgia, which have been relatively untouched since a Spanish shipwreck

in the 1500s.


Good luck, if I can be of any help, please let me know.





Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 13:40:16 -0500

From: Bagbane at ix.netcom.com

Subject: Re: SC - Period pigs,-the final word for a while


As to the question of Medieval pigs, Yes they were leaner. I was

watching a program at 2:30am on the local educational channel

about 'Old Breed' animals. It seems that there is an intrest in trying

to save 'Old Breed' animals among farmers. One of the examples

they gave was a breed of pig that was known back in medieval

times. It seems that this breed didn't grow as fast as the more

modern breed and took longer to get to a weight to go to market.

Modern breeds grow faster becouse of the fat content. This breed

was more muscle than fat thus a leaner cut of meat. They were

also talking about an 'Old Breed' of cow that could give milk for 7

years instead of the normal 3 for a Jersy. The Jersey gives more

milk but in the long run the old breed was cheaper to keep in the

long run and didn't have some of the problems associated with the

Jersey. It seems that some times faster and bigger isn't always

better. :-)





Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 21:05:10 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Period Pigs-Final Findings


<<Actually, Ras, looking at many, many paintings and illuminations of pigs

in period, there are a lot of us who agree with Anne Marie that pigs were

leaner, rather than with you, saying they were bred for fat.>>


The question that keeps repeatedly flowing through my mind is, 'How do you

justify the writings of Platina under the heading of lard, which clearly

state that there were pigs so fat they could not move around with period

illuminations? I really do not see how the justification of use of pictures

over-rides written text especially given that men are often portrayed as

larger than animals in period illumination signifying man's superior roll in

the creation.


While I now agree that there were pigs that were smaller this does not

necessarily translate into less fat in all instances. For example, Yorkshires

and a couple of other breeds weighing in at up to 1000 pounds in well-grown

specimens were not unknown. Most breeds averaged between 200 to 500 pounds

at market weight. With not a few averaging only 150 to 200 pounds.


So far, I have found that many local breeds were usually on the 'lean' side

but I have also found mention of 'bacon' pigs. That is, varities grown

specifically for lard production. These are mentioned as being larger than

the average pig.


In the 1800's, genetic material from Chinese pigs was introduced into the

herds for the specific purpose of producing pigs that would grow to market

weight faster and to produce sows that would keep a larger percentage of their

piglets alive. Prior to this careful breeding using pigs that were efficient

foragers was the norm. And those pigs were not, as has been suggested by at

least one other person on the the list, driven anywhere for slaughter.

Although pigs live in herds, they, unlike cattle, sheep or horses, are not

'herded' in the sense of being rushed about willy-nilly by dogs or man. The

distances they traveled about was in fact quite a small area being confines

for the most part to a few acres.


Therefore, I conclude that both bacon (e.g. lard) pigs and smaller meat pigs

were grown in period  According to the Domesday listings, the average English

holding was between 30 and 60 acres and pig herds numbered between 8 to 30

pigs with the lower number being the average size herd kept by any landholder.

It would only take one or 2 of these pigs, fattened specifically for

lard/bacon production to supply the needs of an average household on an

annual basis with the rest being grown for hams, loin bacon, puddings, etc.


Unfortunately, there is a lack of records on period pig production so any

further conclusions are impossible at this time. Any comments are welcome.


al-Sayyid A'aql ibn Ras al-Zib

(who found this whole process of studying the agricultural practices of the

barbaric Northerners an interesting learning experience)



Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 15:24:04 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Pigs revisited-long


allilyn at juno.com writes:

<< What else have you read?

Allison >>


My sources were included in 2 previous posts on the subject. One posted several

months ago and the final one I posted referencing Yorksire that grew up to 1000

lbs. The FDA yearbook infactically states 2 things that are of particular interest. One was that pigs have been consistently bred for leanness ONLY since the inception of vegetable shortenings and oils in the last half of THIS century

made lard virtually unnecessary. And the second interesting tidbit was that

through modern breeding programs designed to produce LEANER pork, there has

been a deterioration of the quality of the flesh.


Also others have mentioned that Chinese pigs were bred into modern pig lines

in the 19th century. Since the introduction of those genes was SPECIFICALLY

used to increase survival of litters and to bring the pig to market weight

QUICKER, it clearly shows that pigs before such genetic manipulation had

smaller litters and took somewhat longer to reach market weight. Market weight

has remained pretty much constant for centuries (300 to 500 lbs. for pigs as

opposed to a 600 plus weight for hogs. According to the Domesday produced by

England's Norman conquerers, the average land-holder owned 30 to 60 acres of

land and possesed 8 to 30 pigs/hogs with lower numbers of pigs being the



University of Oklahoma researchers state that it was not until THIS century

that intensive research and breeding programs were specifically geared toward

producing leaner pork. Before that breeding was geared exclusively toward

'bacon) (e.g. lard) production, reaching a pinnacle in the Victorian era when

hogs weighing over a half ton were not uncommon. During the Middle Ages stock

selection for breeding was based on foraging expertise, which translates into

the quality of a pig being able to quickly reach market weight through its

own devices.


So far as the boar vs. pig question, I would say that if a period picture of

a pig looks like a boar, then it is a boar. Boars are not only a different

species but also have a completely different body structure than domesticated

pigs. Basically, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc. Since boar

hunting was a perogative of the medieval nobleman, it doesn't surprise me that

a large percentage of illuminations of pig-like creatures bear more of a

resemblance to 'boars' instead of pigs.


I agree that Platina's example of a pig so fat that it could not prevent a

mouse from gnawing a nest in it's side and rearing a family is unique. I do

not, however, think he meant it to be viewed as sensational. The fact that the

word he used is 'pig' and not 'hog' is what I find significant. He was not

stating that hogs that large were unsual. He was clearly staing that he found

the story of a 'pig' that large unusual. I agree with him.


Finally, a call to the local Agricultural extention officer, produced the

interesting comment that until 25 yrs ago, it was considered a 'good' thing to

have an excessively large percentage of back fat on a pig. What makes this

statement interesting is that the thickness of backfat is how the value of a

market pig is determined.


Couple this with  the small number of period recipes using pork as opposed to

bacon, there can be no other conclusion than one which views period pigs as a

major source of bacon/lard rather than meat, IMO.





Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 23:35:48 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: SC - Pigs and hogs


THLRenata at aol.com writes:

<< what is the difference between a pig and a hog?

            Renata >>


A pig is smaller at market weight and has less fat. Hogs are full grown and

have attained market weight.


According to the Domesday of the 'Manors of the Abbey of St. Peter,

Winchester, 1086', (County of Hants. Manor of Micheldever)- "The same

Abbey......<snip>...There are...<snip>... woods for four hogs.  The Domesday-

Book: Hecham, 1086 says that there were " woods for 300 swine" but that "At that

time there was 1 ox, now there are 15 cattle and I small horse and 18 swine".

( Swine is the term for a mixture of pigs and hogs). Asnapium: An Inventory of

One of Charlemagne's Estates, c. 800 states that "Of farm produce: ...<snip>

lard, from last year 10 sides; new sides, 200, with fragments and fats;

...<snip>.... 260 hogs; 100 pigs; 5 boars;


Of particular interest was the fact that Charlemagne's inventory shows 200 new

sides of lard. which indicates that there were 460 hogs on the estate that

had been recently butchered to provide lard.





Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 22:43:57 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Pigs revisited-long


> Please enlighten an ignorant city girl -- what is the difference between a

> pig and a hog?

> Renata


According to the quick ref, pig and hog are common terms for several members

of the family Suidae.  When applied to the domestic pig, Sus scrofa, a pig

is 120 pounds or less, while a hog is over 120 pounds.





Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 09:11:20 -0500

From: "Philippa Alderton" <phlip at bright.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Pigs revisited-long


Bear said:

>Thinking about this, I would first question the quality of the translation

and second I would wonder if Platina is trying to describe a species

differentiation without having the proper vocabulary to do so.<


>When did we start differentiating between a pig and a hog by the weight of

the animal?<


I don't know the answer to this one- I always thought a pig was a young,

immature animal, past nursing (ie, not a piglet), a hog was a gelded male,

being raised for butchering, a gilt was an unbred female, a boar was a

breeding male, and a sow was a breeding female.



Caer Frig

Barony of the Middle Marches

Middle Kingdom



Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 10:55:57 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Pigs revisited-long


"Decker, Terry D." wrote, in response to Ras and Mordonna:

>> The fact that the

>> word he used is 'pig' and not 'hog' is what I find significant. He was not

>> stating that hogs that large were unsual. He was clearly staing that he

>> found the story of a 'pig' that large unusual. I agree with him.



> Thinking about this, I would first question the quality of the translation

> and second I would wonder if Platina is trying to describe a species

> differentiation without having the proper vocabulary to do so.


Platina uses the word porcus, which my Latin dictionary translates as a

pig or hog, with the feminine porca meaning sow. Another, slightly more

generic term is sus, which translates as sow, swine, pig, or hog.

Possibly the distinction as modernly applied simply didn't exist, or was



I did just find a semi-clue in my (pfeh!) Webster's Dictionary: it seems

apparent both pigge and hogge are beginning to be used in Middle English

over the Anglo-Saxon schwein variant words. The gist of what I read

seems to be that a pig is a pig, whereas the word "hog" may be derived

from both Anglo Saxon and Old Norse words meaning to hew or cut. The

implication seems to be that the word "hog" is applied over "pig" when

the animal is castrated, which would certainly tend to produce a fatter

animal, if not necessarily a larger one. This doesn't mean all hogs are

necessarily castrated, but that all castrated pigs end up as hogs, more

or less.


Now we know capons are specified in many Middle English recipes, and

there seems to be little doubt as to how they were produced, but I don't

recall seeing any evidence regarding the production or consumption of

castrated steers (probably either because cattle were sometimes expected

to do a little work before slaughter, or else because even immature

bulls tend to become upset when you slice off delicate portions of their

anatomy, and express their displeasure in various violent ways). Has

anyone ever heard of a period example of castrating bulls or pigs to

produce large, docile meat animals?


Adamantius, off looking for Tacuinum Sanitatis

Østgardr, East



Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 10:23:03 -0500

From: "LHG, JRG" <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: RE: SC - Pork Assumptions: Pro and Con


Though OOP (17oos), I offer the following which seems to support Ras's view of

the introduction of Chinese pig genes to the pool specifically the timing

of reaching marketable weight---otherwise the directions would likely not

exist in the book containing special recipes and household instructions

known as "Lady Castlehill's Receipt Book" (Molendinar Press, Glasgow,

original and complete MS in the posession of the Mitchell Library and the

property of  Sir Muir Edward Sinclair-Lockhart. It was produced,

frustratingly, as a coffee-table book rather than a serious work but pretty

accurate for all that. Punctuation was slightly changed but not the

original wording or spelling. ISBN 0904002-20-9 1976, copyright Hamish



To Feed Brawne with Whey to be killed at Michaelmas to be up att midesunner

If you have a convenient place  tye the Brawne under a Tree; if not in a

Stye or Swyne house. Give only whey before it be boiled asit comes from the

cheese. You must give him butt a little at a time & give it often; be sure

to give it early and late. Sometimes you must put in the whey a little

Flower of Brimstone or Lye made with Ashes, doubting the Boare may have the

Meazels. A week before you kill him you must feed him with boiled barly.

The Brawne must be put up att midesummer.


(Note Michaelmas is in autumn, and I believe the end instructions  note that

it will not keep forever: It must be further preserved when the weather

gets warm--midesummer). A further note for cheesemakers is that whey is

apparently boiled before consumption (in very late period there were

whey-houses much as we have coffee houses today).





Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 22:55:05 -0400

From: Bernadette Crumb <kerelsen at ptd.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Recipe 4-Weekend of Wisdom


Seton1355 at aol.com wrote:

> OK, but why is salt pork used over fresh? Didn't they have fresh?  Were they

> on a long sea voyage? I always understood that salt anything was saved for

> when you didn't have fresh something.  And having a pig for meat seems common

> enough.

> Phillipa Seton


While my experience with pig slaughtering dealt more with 1700s

and 1800s, I would be surprised if things had changed too

drastically from the middle ages.


Pigs are generally born in the spring.  They are usually fattened

over the course of the summer and early autumn, and then

slaughtered in November (or at least after the daily temperature

has approached the freezing mark--no refrigeration back then.)

After slaughtering, the pig carcass was scraped free of bristles,

skinned and butchered.  All the meat was salted for preservation

because it would need to last until the following butchering

season to be used throughout the next year. Perhaps a meal or

two worth of meat might be withheld from the salting process, to

be eaten right away, but in general the meat was salted and

packed in barrels.  Some may have been smoked (not sure of when

smoking meat for preservation was used in Medieval Europe).

Perhaps wealthy people would be able to have fresh pork at other

times of the year (probably having enough pigs that killing one

out of season wouldn't hurt their annual food supply) but the

non-rich would have kept the pig alive as long as possible to

have it as fat as possible when slaughtering time came.


Bernadette Crumb

(Formerly Lady Sarra Bradhurst

and desperately seeking a name for

my new Moorish persona)



Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 11:26:32 -0500

From: harper at idt.net

Subject: SC - Pigs


The Honorable Lord Stephan asked about pigs.


Gabriel Alonso de Herrera, in his 1513 "Work on Agriculture", has

this to say about pigs:


"Quien quisiere ruido compre cochino"

"Who wants a noise that's big, should buy a pig"

(not quite a literal translation, but it rhymes in the original Spanish)


"They are animals that fatten marvelously, so much so that it

happens many times that they cannot rise onto their feet, nor even

walk, but if you must raise them at home to stuff* them, let it be in

an enclosed place..."


*the word used here, "cebar", has the connotation of deliberately

over-feeding, in order to fatten the animal.


He goes on to say that it's dangerous to let pigs roam about,

because they are dangerous and destructive, and will eat almost

anything, including the young of other animals, as well as their own.


Lessee...  Pregnant sows should be well-fed, especially in the

winter, so that they will produce plenty of milk. Herrera

recommends barley soaked in water.  As for the piglets, he says

you can feed them wheat, either boiled or toasted, but not raw, or

boiled rye.  If the weather is nice, you can send them out to

pasture with their mamas to eat good grass.


"But always before they go out to pasture give them something to

eat, especially in the Spring when the grass is wet with dew, which

harms them, or in the Winter, when it is icy, which makes them

jaundiced and makes them very ill; it is good to give them some

mash, either of bran or of fava bean flour, and with it they will fatten

a lot, or boiled fava beans or any other thing..."


Herrera gives instructions for taking a herd of pigs out to pasture,

recommending certain types of terrain, according to the season

and time of day.  He has a lot to say about leading them to places

where they can eat acorns and wild cherries and grubs.


He makes a distinction between those pigs which are merely well-

fed and those which are shut up for fattening.


This is the gist of it; I may be overlooking some things.  And, of

course, this is *recommended* practice; like the health manuals of

the time, it may reflect what people should have done, but not

necessarily what they did do.


Brighid, not overly interested in pigs at the pre-bacon stage of life


Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Settmour Swamp, East (NJ)



Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 21:53:17 -0600

From: "Mark S. Harris" <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - Period pig info


From "The Year 1000" by Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger:

page 58 -

"Mutton was not a particular delicacy, Wulfstan's memorandum of estate

management described mutton as a food for slaves, and pork seems also

to have been considered routine.


The relatively small amounts of fat on all these meats would be viewed

by modern nutritionists with quite a kindly eye. Saturated fat, the

source of cholesterol with its related contemporary health problems,

is a problem of the intensively reared factory-farmed animals of recent

years, with their overabundant "scientific" diets and their lack of

exercise. All Anglo-Saxons would have been shocked at the idea of

ploughing land to produce animal feed. Ploughland was for feeding

humans. So farm animals were lean and rangey, their meat containing

three times as much protein as fat. With modern, intensively reared

animals that ratio is often reversed. 42"


That footnote is:

42   Hagen, Second Handbook, p93.


The Bibliography has:

Hagen, Anne, A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink: Production

and Distribution.  Hockwold-cum-Wilson: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995.


This pretty much echos my thoughts on the situation.


Ann Hagen has quite a lot to say about Anglo-Saxon pigs and their

raising. I will quote some of her info in another message.

- --

THL Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad   Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas         stefan at texas.net



Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 22:22:40 -0600

From: "Mark S. Harris" <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - more period pig info


I mentioned in another message that the book "The Year 1000", footnotes

the section on period pigs not being particularly fat with the book

"A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink". It indicates page 97.

I believe this off somewhere, but my point to Ann Hagen's chapter on

pigs, which starts on page 102.


Here is a little bit from Anne Hagen's conclusion for that chapter:

"The pig is generally associated with the poorer classes, and most

households may have kept at least one pig although the pig does not

have the very poor/rural connotation of sheep. 193  However, they

were run in herds on the estates of the aristocracy, and in such

numbers that some must have been sold for meat. The will referring

to the funeral feast implies pork and bacon could be bought easily

abd that they were feast food. 194" ...


"Pigs would have been important to the Anglo-Saxons as a source of

essential fat. 197  How much of the carcass of a Dark Age pig was

fat can only be guesses at, though this may have been about 10-15%.

198" [Doesn't seem all that fat to me. Nor does it seem like such

an animal would be raised primarily for the fat/lard. - Stefan]

"For this reason fat pigs were particularly valued, as food rents

indicate, and this continued to be the case into the seventeenth

century...". [Yes, valued, but not the usual - Stefan]


"The fat in the meat would have provided calories, which would

otherwise have had to be derived from lean meat, nutritionally more

valuable as a source of protein." "The fat from pigs was used to

lard other roast and boiled meats and fish. 201"


"Because of it's high proportion of fat, pig meat was comparatively

easy to preserve, and was important because it could be preserved."


"Pigs were also valuable because they did not compete with man for

food, being fattened primarily on woodland or grass, rather than

grain. 202 They would be in better condition than other stock in

late winter since they could find natural forage, and may have been

useful for fresh meat at a time of year unfavorable for the slaughter

of rumiinants."


So while pigs might have sometimes been fattened with grain just

before market, it doesn't look like feeding grains to pigs at

least in England around the first millennium was common.

- --

THL Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad   Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas         stefan at texas.net



Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 00:42:39 -0600

From: Stefan li Rous <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - Ann Hagen's footnotes on Anglo-Saxon pigs


Ok, here are the footnotes that I left off of my quotes on period, or at

least Anglo-Saxon, pigs.


193   Bonser 1963, 249-50, Wiseman 1986, viii.


194   Robertson 1939, 227.


197   Wiseman 1986, 5.


198   Prummel 1983, 261.


201   Moryson, 1617, IV 29, Robertson 1939, 199.


202   Wiseman 1986, 5.


Bonser W. 1963 "The Medical background of Anglo-Saxon England" Wellcome

   Historical Medical Library.


Moryson, F. 1617 "An Itinerary" Vols. I-IV Glasglw 1907.


Prummel, W. 1983 "Excavations at Dorestad 2" Amersfoort.


Robertson, A. J. 1939 "Anglo-Saxon Charters" CUP


Wiseman, J. 1986 "A History of the British Pig" Duckworth


I wonder in particular how easy it might be to find a copy of Wiseman's


- --

THLord  Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad   Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas         stefan at texas.net



Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 07:08:45 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Period pig info


LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

> I do have a reference  from Platina which you

> should have in your swine files which specifically states that  at least one

> pig was so fat it had a nest of mice living in it's flesh'. I take that as

> at least  ONE valid primary source that does not conjecture but rather

> indicates that pigs were fat.


Just as a qualifier on the quality of this reference, it really should

be noted that Platina is quoting Varro (presumably the real,

classical-age Varro, not one of his friends' pseudonyms), who claims to

have seen the pig in question in Arcadia. Therefore, what we have is a

secondary account of a report by a Roman author reporting on something

he claims to have seen in a Greek province.


I don't mean to cast doubt on this so much as to put it in

perspective... looking at some of what Pliny the Elder wrote, there's at

least the possibility that some of it is fantasy. I mean, look at Marco

Polo. On the other hand, Varro's claim is better than nothing.





Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 11:19:04 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: SC - Fat Pig, Lean Pig


I would think that a partial solution to this debate would be to look for

period depictions, possibly they might be found in some of 16th century

Flemish paintings as I seem to recall one with a peasant holding a pig by

its hind legs.  If one were to identify the breed of pig to be an antecedent

of a modern breed then, as a first order approximation, it might be

possible, by using the axiom that the present is the key to the past, to

compare one to the other and achieve an index of period porcine corpulence

given enough data points.


As an alternative hypothesis we may indeed find, as I suggested recently,

that like some livestock certain breeds of swine were raised to maximize

some product over another.  Certain breeds of sheep were after all bred for

wool, rather than meat or milk and it is a historical fact that certain

breeds of swine were bred until recently to maximize lard production.  Thus

as a working hypothesis we should be able to determine if "lard" pigs were

the fat ones and "meat" pigs the lean. There may also have been a dichotomy

between rural and urban swine rearing.  Rural pigs may have been more

general utility beasts while urban or suburban swine rearing might been more

specialized.  Additionally I  seem to recall, like cattle drives in the US,

that there were pig drives in England.  This would suggest more intensive

swine husbandry in localized areas.


Regarding the feeding of acorns to swine Rosengarten writes regarding

Quercus ilex in southern Europe that it produces a sweet nut like a chestnut

which is called "bellotas" in "Don Quixote" by Cervantes.  These nuts were

fed to swine.  Single well developed oaks are said by him to yield enough

acrons for 100 pounds of pork.  He futher states that Portuguese hogs often

double or triple their weight in three months on acorns "while lolling about

in open pasture beneath the trees."  The forests are thinned periodically to

maximize production of acorns and cork from cork oaks and "very little

expense is need to maintain these woodlands."  This would suggest

possible variations in swine production by country.


Daniel Raoul, who, from his childhood, recalls the distinctive aroma of pig

rearing with little fondness and no affection.



Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 12:52:21 -0500

From: "Phlip" <phlip at 99main.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Boar vs. Pig

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> I need some educational input. I was talking about slow roasting wild

> boar shanks with an orange & port glaze for part of my Christmas dinner,

> when a friend asked what the difference was between boar and the wild

> pigs they are shooting with abandon down in his area of South Georgia.

> Well, I don't have a clue.

> So, without reference to social behavior, can someone tell me what the

> difference is between pigs, wild pigs, and boars?

> Aoghann


A boar is a male of the porcine species, like a stallion is a male of the equine species. Pigs are technically immature swine, although in a broader sense, the term is used for any swine, regardless of gender or sexual maturity or state of domestication, just as "cow" is used for cattle, when the actual meaning is a mature female of the various species of cattle (and a few other species, but I won't get into that).


Wild pigs are usually actually domesticated swine in this country who went feral. There are, however, several varieties of swine which have never been domesticated, although they've been imported, such as the Russian Wild Boar- often, the word "boar" will (inaccurately) refer to any undomesticated swine.


Like all sexually mature and uncastrated male animals, a true boar will tend to be stronger flavored with tougher connective tissues, so stronger spicing and slow cooking methods are usually required. Most pork we get in this country comes from pigs- ie, immature animals, so be advised.


Saint Phlip,




Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 12:54:58 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Boar vs. Pig

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Just to add a little to Phlip's answer, wild pig is sometimes used to refer to the peccary (AKA javelina).  What they are hunting down south are probably feral pigs, but it could also be peccaries, which have had a very wide range in North and South America.





Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 07:23:48 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Pigs help New Forest ponies

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Ear notching was and is the method used to identify pigs.  It is an inexpensive, permanent system of marking that can easily identify individual animals.  There is a standardized system of notching commonly used in the US, the details of which can be had from extension services or the 4-H. Notching and tail docking is usually done when the animal is between one and three days old.


Unlike sheep, pigs don't need much attention, so letting them run loose isn't much of a problem.  Swineherds are employed when one is raising a large number of pigs, gathering the pigs or driving the pigs to market.




----- Original Message -----

It sounds like the pigs were just set free to browse. I had gotten the idea somewhere that several pigs were set loose together with a swinehard to keep track of them and perhaps herd them.


If this isn't the case, how do you get *your* pig back at the end of grazing season. Are/were the pigs branded?





To: gleannabhann at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: period bacon question

Posted by: "Sperry Workman" sperryw at yahoo.com sperryw

Date: Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:18 am ((PDT))


<<< And Mistress Rebecca, please know I really, really, really, wouldn't want

anyone trying a period hunt! Too dangerous for the dogs!


Lewen >>>


Actually, there are a good number of folks who DO go out and re-create wild hog hunts just for the challenge of it.  Google St. Hubert's Rangers.  We have several members of this hunting group here in Gleann Abhann.  The dogs are trained and usually wear modern protective vests and collars.  The humans... well... they're usually in medieval kit.

One of the things that they've noticed on the hogs they've gotten is that there is not enough body fat on the pigs to make a good bacon.  Everything else is QUITE tasty, but the animals are SO lean that they just won't make bacon.

If you're really interested in how to make your own bacon, Duke Gunter from Ansteorra, who was Laureled for his medival cooking expertise, regularly teaches hands-on smoking and curing classes.  I'd love to get over there for a weekend.

HRM Kenna, who is glad for the intelligent bacon conversation.



Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2016 14:06:45 -0500

From: JIMCHEVAL at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Keeping pork moist in a recipe


"The medieval pig was a wilder, thinner and blacker creature than the  

modern pig."


The Westminster Corridor: An Exploration of the Anglo-Saxon History of  

Westminster Abbey and Its Nearby Lands and People


David Sullivan

Jan 1, 1994





"Although the Romans, had practiced selective breeding to produce large  

farm animals, the Middle Ages saw a reversal of this trend and animals becamse

on average smaller. Medieval pigs were only about one-third the size of a

modern pig."


All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, Volume 1

By Ruth A Johnston




Jim Chevallier


<the end>

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