(English) Olive Oil in Iron Age Britain
While the Roman Empire may have been instrumental in the spread of olive tree cultivation and and oil processing facilities around the Mediterranean basin, archaeological evidence now points to the consumption of olive oil in the first pre-Roman planned town discovered in Britain.
The modern village of Silchester in Hampshire is located just one mile from the remains of the Roman town Calleva Atrebatum, under which lie the remains of the Iron Age settlement known as Calleva, a Celtic place name which can translate to “woody place”.
Probably founded in the second half of the first century BC, Calleva was a populous settlement and archaeological evidence shows there were wide ranging contacts both within Britain and overseas with France, Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean. The diverse imported goods apparently included olive oil, wine and fermented fish sauce called garum for cooking.
Two thousand years after the demise of Calleva, we are fortunate to be able to uphold tradition and continue to consume olive oil in modern Britain today!