But the bones that have been excavated from the graves of people buried in England in the years around 1000 tell a tale of strong and healthy folk the Anglo-Saxons who had occupied the greater part of the British Isles since the departure of the Romans. Nine out of ten of them lived in a green and unpolluted countryside on a simple, wholesome diet that grew sturdy limbs and very healthy teeth. It was during the centuries that followed the first millennium that overpopulation and overcrowding started to aVect the stature and well-being of western Europeans. Excavations of later medieval sites reveal bodies that are already smaller than those discovered from the years around 1000, and archaeologists who have studied these centuries say that they can almost see the devastation of the Black Death looming in the evidence of the increasingly frail and unhealthy skeletal remains.
Life was simple. People wore the simple, sack-like tunics with leggings that we laugh at in the Monty Python movies, though in colours that were rather less muddy. Despite the lack of sharp chemical dyes in the year 1000, natural vegetable colourings could produce a range of strong and cheerful hues, with bright reds, greens, and yellows. It was a world without buttons, which had yet to be invented. Clothes were still fastened with clasps and thongs.
A vivid and surprising portrait of life in England a thousand years ago, The Year 1000 brings this distant world closer than ever before. Robert Lacey teams up with Danny Danziger on this informative Number 1 bestseller that inspired the BBC radio series.