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Crops

The climate was similar to that of the present day, so crops that grow well in this area now would have done so during the Roman period. The best evidence of which crops they cultivated normally comes from the carbonised seeds of cereals and other plants, seed impressions fired into pottery and pollen grain, but the alkaline condition of East Meon’s chalk-based soils has meant that very little has survived. The most common wheat crops during the Roman period were Emmer and Spelt, as they had been in the Iron Age. Wheat production rose during the late Roman period, to provide bread for the Roman army and the well-to-do.

Barley was the other main crop in early Roman times but decreased as wine replaced ale as the drink of choice, particularly by the military and the landowning classes.  Oats were probably grown along with beans, peas and flax; there is no evidence for the cultivation of rye. Root vegetables such as carrots and onions were probably grown, and beans, herbs and fruit.