Tales Out of School

Digs & Discoveries July/August 2018

(Copyright Oxford Archaeology)

One of the largest urban excavations ever conducted in Oxford, England, has revealed artifacts relating to the lives of medieval students and clergy at the city’s famous university. Hundreds of items recovered from the site of Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary connected with Oxford, founded in 1224 and closed in 1538 during King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, include writing styluses, book clasps, leather sandals, and glass vials possibly used for experiments, as well as animal bones, cutlery, beer mugs, and jugs for storing wine. According to Ben Ford of Oxford Archaeology, ample evidence of eating and drinking suggests pleasures of the table held considerable importance for the community. “We are looking in particular at the food remains,” he says. “Did they adhere to their vow of poverty, and did this change through the life of the friary? Are there any indications of higher status foodstuffs, and how did the diet of the friars compare to that of the ordinary townsfolk?”

  • Artifacts July/August 2018

    Boxing Gloves

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    (Courtesy Vindolanda Trust)
  • Around the World July/August 2018


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    (Courtesy www.GML.com.au)
  • Digs & Discoveries July/August 2018

    Sun Storm

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    (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
  • Features July/August 2018

    Westminster Abbey’s Hidden History

    Far above the royal pomp and circumstance, archaeologists unexpectedly discover seven centuries of England’s past

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    (James Brittain-VIEW/Alamy Stock Photo)