The First Five Millennia of British Mead: Making History in Your Mead

Explore details of the wide variety of meads made on the island of Great Britain from the earliest evidence for meadmaking (about 3500 BCE) to the end of the reign of Elizabeth I (1603 CE). Ingredients and methods used to produce mead and the likely nature of the products are established based on physical evidence, the historical record, the speaker’s catalog of hundreds of historical British recipes, and modern understanding of meadmaking. Methods to incorporate this diverse history into your mead are presented, whether you seek precise re-creation or general inspiration.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the history of meadmaking on the island of Great Britain between about 3500 BCE and 1600 CE.
  • Archaeological evidence for meadmaking, Anglo-Saxon legal and ecclesiastical records, Medieval medical and agricultural writings, the influence of Welsh bragaud and meddyglyn, and the continual influences of global trade and knowledge transfer
  • Discover the diverse and often unexpected recipes, ingredients, and methods used in making historical British (and Welsh) meads
  • Learn processes to incorporate historical recipes into your modern mead making in ways that meet your individual goals and preferences

About the Speaker

Laura Angotti is an independent researcher based in Massachusetts, interested in the history of fermented drinks, with a specific interest in the history of mead before ca.1750 CE, most notably the specifics of how the drink was made and the nature of mead as it was historically consumed. Her focus is on finding, understanding, and re-creating meads from historical recipes. Her goal is to share the fascinating and complex history of mead through its 9,000-year worldwide history, particularly the complex interactions of mead making with economic, agricultural, medical, social, and political history, as well as the enormous variety of ingredients, flavors, and techniques in historical recipes. She has cataloged close to 4,000 mead recipes dating from before 1750 CE and has made and tasted more than 100 of these.

With almost 30 years of meadmaking experience, Laura uses her training in engineering and biology from MIT and Northeastern University, as well as her professional experience in techno-economic analysis and modeling, industrial fermentation, and water treatment, to weave together the threads of history and connect the past with the present.

She is currently working on her third book, Mead, Gold and Sweet, Ensnaring: Mead in Great Britain Prehistory to Elizabeth I. Her previous books are Wellcome Mead: 105 Mead Recipes from 17th and 18th Century English Receipt Manuscripts at the Wellcome Library and Cider and Perry in Britain to 1700: A Collection of Material from Primary and Selected Secondary Sources. She writes about her work at and “Mystery of Mead” on Facebook.

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