How our Dalton family lived in the Medieval Period in England

Or how our Dalton's must have lived, from c.1200, 1300, 1400, 1500's.

Researched, edited, and complied by Rodney G. Dalton. August 2008.


Did you ever wonder what life was like for our Dalton ancestors in medieval England?

The was a time when our Dalton's were great land owners and Sir Richard de Dalton I was just back from the Holy Land. He had started a family and being a Knight he had a great deal of responsibility not only to his Lord but to his servants and tenants. This was called a fiefdom, or fief. The so-called dark ages was over and there were small villages and towns with farmers and merchants around a walled area for protection. I have already told you about what it was like to be a Knight, so how did he and his fellow neighbors live.

From “The Middle Ages” by Morris Bishop; Excerpts from the book and some thoughts by Rodney Dalton.

In medieval feudalism the overlord was, in theory, socially, economically and politically supreme. He granted some part of his rights to his vassals, his noble companions and servants. The granted rights took the form of rule over a unit of land, or a fief. An implicit bargain was struck: the lord offered maintenance and production; the vassal promised military his to his lord.

The land was called a manorial system, which determined the relations between the vassal, sub-vassal, tenants on the lords manor. Now we know in our Dalton family there was a long succession of Knights and they were large landholders in the village of Dalton and Bispham and then in Thurnham Hall in Lancashire. Luckily for them they was in a class way above the masses, or peasants.

In feudal society gentlemen and ladies formed a kind of club, the members recognizable by dress and speech. Nobles played the game of menial service to their king, supervising his hunting, his dogs and wardrobe. Remember that there was a few Dalton's that worked for a King's of the time. Their life was precarious and had to be lived fast and hard. They had to put up with, polluted water, tainted foods, the rheumatic, pneumonia damp of stone-walled rooms, mistreatment of wounds, epidemics of typhoid, dysentery, smallpoxes, influenza and the plague took a heavy toll.

The proper medieval gentleman had many virtues. He was generally loyal to his feudal obligations and in the administration of justice. He was generous, particularly in bequeathing land and money to his church. He was sincerely religious, respectful of church authority and faithful to his duties. He took his knightly vows seriously and seldom violated an oath or solemn promise.

The center of the nobles life was his manor's hall or his lord's castle hall. Here he held court, transacted affairs, entertained, and dined on trestle tables set up for each meal. When he had private business, he took visitors into the bedroom. In winter the hall was very cold. In early times, a fire was built in the center of the hall, being of stone there was no danger of a fire, except when the sparks set fire to the straw that was spread about. The smoke found its way out through a small opening in the roof. Later on in the four-tenth century there was wall fireplaces and chimneys. It was said that if there was a “chamber with a chimney” the rich man would dine in comfort. The favored gentry by the fire were nice and warm while the underlings in far corners froze. People simply endured cold without complaint. Lack of warmth was aggravated by lack of light. Windows were small and high. With the early winter dark one had to light the torches, which were smoky and foul smelling, injurious to tapestries and decorations, and dangerous with their spurting sparks. Later there was crude lamps consisting of a wick of precious cotton floating in a bowl of vegetable or fish oil. They gave little light and much smell. Medieval man had to live by daylight. Winter in the north where our Dalton's lived, was a time for food, song and storytelling. It was also a time of hardship, perpetual chill, scanty, monotonous, vitamin less food. To give some semblance of warmth, the great hall and bedrooms were often hung with tapestries representing biblical or hunting scenes. The floor was strewn with rushes or straw and could become unnecessarily foul in winter. Although most of the manors occupants slept on the floor on straw pallets, the lord and lady had a wood-framed bed, corded with rope, with curtains for privacy . On retiring, men and women stripped, hung their cloths on a pole to protect them from dirt, dogs, mice and donned at most a nightcap. In the winter time a good warm fur blanket was used as a cover.

A hard problem was the cleaning of cloths, for the worlds was a dirty place. The medieval housewife removed dirt and stains by rubbing the material in fuller's earth moistened by lye or by soaking in warm wine for two days. She fought vermin constantly by day and night. Contrary to popular legend, medieval people loved baths. They bathed wherever water was available. In streams or during a rainstorms, but with a lookout for peepers. In the home it was always in the kitchen where as a large tin tub was used with all the family bathing one after another. Naturally the gentleman of the house was first with his wife and then children next. A servant was heating water on the fire to refreshed the bath.

Shaving was difficult, painful and infrequent and razer's looked like carving knives were likely to be old and dull. Even haircutting was disagreeable. Scissors were of a squeeze type and pulled mightily.

Toothbrushes didn't come into being until the fourteenth century and those who didn't have them rubbed their teeth with a green hazel twig and wiped with a woolen cloth.

The question is where did the people go? Privies were set in the manor or castles walls, where the waste dropped into a stream or moat, contaminating the ground and the water. Later there were outhouses used. Since there was no toilet paper, use your imagination on how they wiped themselves.

No one in the Manor house or castle knew the time. The ringing of the church bell at various times of day was good enough for most people. Time was measured between sunrise and sunset. Sometime during the Fourth-tenth century the mechanical clock became good enough to be used in the form of a gigantic town clocks.

The gentleman's day began at dawn with morning mass, then breakfast which was substantial. The great event of the day was dinner, served at about ten A. M. after the lords business was transacted. The people filed in, overnight guests, family, favored neighbors and others. A washbowl was bought in to be used by family and honored guests; everyone else washed his hands at a lavatory and dried them on a long towel. The people were served in order of precedence – visiting clergy, visiting Knight's and the lords family. They took their seats on a long banquette table at the wall side of the high table, with the rest at other tables set “ below the salt” perpendicular to the high table. Each pair of guests shared a wooden bowl The cups on the tables were made of pewter, wood or horn. Guests were supplied with spoons, but these were just recently introduced, and the guests had to use their own knives. Dinner was always began with a blessing. The food was carried across an open court from the kitchen, and was never more than lukewarm. The servants approached from the unoccupied side of the high table. There was almost always a tender roast on its spit with a young gentleman carver. But most of the food was minced or pounded flat. The servants ladled thick stews onto chunks of bread in the bowls. The man of the pair which was almost always a lady plucked out toothsome morsels with his fingers and offered them to his companion setting next to him with much gallant byplay. The two took wine from the same goblet unless there was some bad feeling between the two. At the end of a long dinner the bread was collected for the poor . Bones and other discards were tossed to the begging dogs. The guest were again required to wash their hands before going off to hunt, play vigorous games or to take a long nap.

Medieval food implied a class distinction. The nobleman ate meat and white bread and drank wine. The others had porridge, turnips, dark bread, and in the north, beer and ale. Meat and fowl were in great variety. All sorts of birds were eaten, from starlings to gulls, herons, storks, cormorants and vultures. Animals were cut up and cooked as soon as possible, or salted and smoked until needed. Tender fowls and animals were always cooked on a spit, but most meats was boiled since rangy cattle, stags and wild chickens were sure to be tough. Most dishes were served in which the taste of a dozen strong spices dominated, especially pepper, mustard and garlic. During Lent fish was substituted. Every kind of fish was eaten; dogfish, porpoises, seals, and whales were imported from the sea. The peasants ate the local fish caught from the streams and rivers nearby.

Most of the vegetables, except potatoes, tomatoes and corn were known, but they were scorned as commoners' food. There was many fruits eaten. Sugar sweets was a rarity because the sugar had to be imported and only the very well to do nobles had them.

After the sun went down there was a light serving of food, afterwards the guests might assemble to watch a floor show, presented by traveling minstrels, jugglers, acrobats and sometimes trained dogs and monkeys. A good storyteller was always present to end the night.

The greatest of nobles sport or entrainment was hunting and hawking. Deer and birds were the prize. Hunting laws bore cruelly on the commoner and peasants. Many were put to death if caught poaching.

Hawking was the nobles particular joy. His falconers were expert in the care, feeding and training of his birds. Knight's and ladies carried their favorite, hooded, on the wrist and parked it behind them at meals.

The manorial system, widespread in England was not at first favorable to the development of agriculture and commerce. Manors tented to be self-sufficient The people lived in their small world, in constant fear of the strange world beyond. The seemed to be constant little wars going on around them, which sometimes killed them or at least burned their houses, and crops and killed their animals. The best they could for was to endure, and they endured. The Dalton family at least have the benefit to have knight's and knight's as neighbors.

In the eleventh and following centuries things took a turn for the better. Life became more stable; population increased; new lands were brought under cultivation and old lands rendered more productive. The quality of herds was improved by selection and crossbreeding. Flowing water was put to work, operating gristmills and providing power for forges. Windmills whiled on plains and uplands. Wasteland, forest, scrub and march were subdued by the plow. Trade revived, though it never entirely disappeared, even in the darkest days.

A new class appeared on the edge of feudal society: the merchants. Probably they originated among the landless men, escaped serfs, casual harvest laborers, beggars and outlaws. The merchants made the towns. They needed walls and wall builders, warehouses and guards, artisans to manufacture their trade goods, casket makers, cart builders, smiths, shipwrights and sailors, soldiers and muleteers. They needed farmers and herdsmen outside the walls to feed them; and bakers, brewers and butchers within. The merchants dealt in anything that might turn a profit.

As transportation became cheaper and more efficient, foods and goods began to travel. England exported fish, cheese and ale, and they imported dried figs, dates, raisins, olive oil, almonds and fruits, such as oranges and lemons. The wine business was colossal. England imported from Bordeaux great quantities of wine. The greatest international commerce was in textiles. The wool that was most prized come from England. Much of it went to Flanders for processing and them back to be bought by all. We all know our Dalton family was into sheep raising and wool merchandising. In general the overland trade routes followed the old Roman roads, whose stone pavements still served the traveler here and there. But with these few exceptions, the roads were in deplorable state. In wet weather the highways and roads became muddy rivulets, or even rivers. There were few bridges so one was often obliged to ford a dangerous stream. Once off the highway the traveler was in real trouble. There were no signposts, since the peasants didn't need them. On the main highways the traffic was very heavy, and with the road being not very wide it was always crowded. Everyone was on the roads: monks and nuns, bishops bound for Rome of making a visitation to some town; wandering students; singing pilgrims, papal postmen; King's postmen and soldiers; minstrels, quacks and drug sellers; chapmen and tinkers; seasonal workers and serfs out on bond; discharged solders, beggars and highwaymen; sheep and cattle on their way to market, befouling the already highway. The gentry and the well to do traveled on horseback and in caravans with their large attachment of servants; sometimes the King himself with hundreds of his court and guards clearing the way and doing a lot to disrupt the traveler. Everyone else went by afoot, bespattered by mounted men and scuffing through horse and mule dropping. Merchants traveled in caravans or convoy for protection for the highwaymen. They led a long train of pack animals, which were tended by hostlers and muleteers; it took about seventy beasts to carry the contents of a ten-ton truck. On the highway all movement crest at sunset. Gentlemen would seek out a castle nearby, where they were fed and entertained. Commoners found inns, notorious for their crowding, discomfort and dreadful food and vermin. The poor were sheltered in the guest houses of monasteries; the poorest – outcasts and outlaws – sleep under the stars or the rain.

The merchants usual destination was a trade fair that was granted by the King. This then was how many new cities started.

Modern writers distinguish between the feudal system and the manorial system, not always lucidly, for the two coincide as often as they diverge. As we have seen, the feudal system properly refers to the relations between fief holders and their lords. Essential to it was the noble lord's possession of a fiefdom or fief, a grant from a greater lord. The fief normally took the physical form of a manor: a castle or great house and a village surrounded by farmlands. Our Dalton family was granted fiefs from these greater lords.


The below was copied from the Internet.

The lords of the Medieval Manors exercised certain rights including Hunting and Judicial rights. The Lord of the Manor was based in the Manor House and from here he conducted the business of the manor.

Manors, not villages, were the economic and social units of life in the early Middle Ages. A manor consisted of a manor house, one or more villages, and up to several thousand acres of land divided into meadow, pasture, forest, and cultivated fields. The fields were further divided into strips; 1/3 for the lord of the manor, less for the church, and the remainder for the peasants and serfs. This land was shared out so that each person had an equal share of good and poor. At least half the work week was spent on the land belonging to the lord and the church. Time might also be spent doing maintenance and on special projects such as clearing land, cutting firewood, and building roads and bridges. The rest of the time the villagers were free to work their own land.

In the Middle Ages land ownership was tied to national security. Under the feudal system all land was owned by the king. He granted territories to his earls and barons in return for military aid in need. They in turn granted lands to men who fought for them. Thus the land and its people could be protected without a standing army. The system broke down in the later Middle Ages and feudal tenure was finally abolished in England, Ireland and Wales in 1660.

The basic administrative unit was the manor. Ideally a manor was enough land to support a cavalryman - a knight's fee. He needed not only food and clothing for himself and his family, but armour, weapons and horses. The acreage needed varied according to the quality of the land. England had about 5,000-6,000 knights' fees.

It was natural for a son to follow in his father's footsteps, taking over a manor and the duty to fight. But once it was accepted that fees were inherited, then a manor could be held by a disabled man. Or it could be divided between daughters. So it might be more convenient to commute military service to a money payment. Over the centuries this gradually became the norm. So knighthood was not inherited with the manor. As a code of chivalry developed in the Middle Ages, so the prestige of the knight rose, and with it the expense of maintaining armour and trappings. Knighthood became an honour, but one that some manorial lords preferred to avoid.

Those holding manors direct from the Crown were called tenants-in-chief. Mainly these were barons and earls. In 1086 they held half of England. However the king kept about a fifth in his own hands. His manors could be granted direct to knights, who would then be tenants-in-chief. The rest of the English manors were held by the Church - mainly by monasteries or cathedrals.


People who worked on the manor are described as follows:

Vassal - A Vassal or Liege was a free man who held land (a fief) from a lord to whom he paid homage and swore fealty. A vassal could be a Lord of the Manor but was also directly subservient to a Noble or the King. (All of our Dalton's who were knight's were probably vassals under a Lord and could have been called Lord of the manor.)

A Vassal's Obligations: The vassal was required to attend the lord at his court, help administer justice, and contribute money if needed. He must answer a summons to battle, bringing an agreed upon number of fighting men. As well, he must feed and house the lord and his company when they travelled across his land.

Bailiff - A Bailiff was a person of some importance who undertook the management of manors

Reeve - A Reeve was a manor official appointed by the lord or elected by the peasants

Serf - A serf was another name for a peasant or tenant. Medieval Serfs were peasants who worked his lord's land and paid him certain dues in return for the use of land, the possession (not the ownership) of which was heritable. The dues were usually in the form of labor on the lord's land. Medieval Serfs were expected to work for approximately 3 days each week on the lord's land.

Peasant or Villein - A peasant or villein was a low status tenant who worked as an agricultural worker or laborer. A peasant or villein usually cultivated 20-40 acres of land

Cottager: A low class peasant with a cottage, but with little or no land who generally worked as a simple laborer

Servant: Servants were house peasants who worked in the lord's manor house, doing the cooking, cleaning, laundering, and other household chores.

Food and Drink. The fare at the lord's table was as full of variety as the peasant's was spare. Meat, fish, pastries, cabbage, turnips, onions, carrots, beans, and peas were common, as well as fresh bread, cheese, and fruit. At a feast spitted boar, roast swan, or peacock might be added.

Wine or ale was drunk, never water, which was rightly considered suspect. Ale was the most common drink, but it was not the heady alcoholic drink we might imagine. It was thin, weak, and drunk soon after brewing. It must have had little effect on sobriety. Fruit juices and honey were the only sweeteners, and spices were almost unknown until after the Crusades.

Table Manners; Meat was cut with daggers and all eating was done with the fingers from trenchers, or hollowed out husks of bread. One trencher was used by two people, and one drinking cup. Scraps were thrown on the floor for the dogs to finish. There were no chimneys, and the fireplace was in the middle of the hall. Smoke escaped by the way of louvres in the roof (at least in theory).

House Layout: In the early medieval period the centre of life in castles and manors was the great hall, a huge, multipurpose chamber safely built upon the second floor. These halls were dimly lit, due to the need for massive walls with small windows for defense from attack. In the 14th century the hall descended to the ground floor, and windows grew in size, indicating increased security. The solar, or family room, remained on the first floor. It became the custom for the family to eat in the solar, leaving the great hall to minor guests and servants.

Hall life decreased as trade increased. Trades specialized and tradesmen and women moved out of the hall. The communal life of the hall declined and families became more private. Manors sustained fewer people as trades separated from the manor community.

The Peasant's Life: Villages consisted of from 10-60 families living in rough huts on dirt floors, with no chimneys or windows. Often, one end of the hut was given over to storing livestock. Furnishings were sparse; three legged stools, a trestle table, beds on the floor softened with straw or leaves. The peasant diet was mainly porridge, cheese, black bread, and a few home-grown vegetables.

Peasants had a hard life, but they did not work on Sundays or on the frequent saints' days, and they could go to nearby fairs and markets. The lot of serfs was much harsher.

The Serf's Life: Although not technically a slave, a serf was bound to a lord for life. He could own no property and needed the lord's permission to marry. Under no circumstance could a serf leave the land without the lord's permission unless he chose to run away. If he ran to a town and managed to stay there for a year and a day, he was a free man. However, the serf did have rights. He could not be displaced if the manor changed hands. He could not be required to fight, and he was entitled to the protection of the lord.


More information on daily life in medieval towns:

A new class emerged during the Middle Ages; the merchant. The growth of trade and the merchant middle class went hand in hand with the growth in towns. Town populations swelled during this period, particularly after the Black Death. Trade routes grew, though roads remained poor and dangerous, so most goods were transported by water.

Towns were built on trade, and the elite of towns were the merchants. Merchant guilds controlled town government, though they often clashed with craft guilds for power. Merchants needed stability for trade, so they supported the king and the establishment of a strong central government against the rule of individual nobles. The king, for his part, encouraged the growth of towns and trade. Town charters became a major source of royal revenue. Eventually the growth of towns and guilds led to the breakdown of the manor-centred feudal society.

Merchant guilds controlled the trade in a town. Merchant guilds regulated prices, quality, weights and measures, and business practices. The power of the guilds was absolute in their domain, and to be expelled from a guild made it impossible to earn a living. Each guild had a patron saint, celebrated religious festivals together, put on religious plays, and looked after the health and welfare of the members and their families.

Separate from the merchant guilds were the craft guilds, which regulated the quality, working hours and conditions of its members. There were three levels of craftsmen; masters, journeymen, and apprentices. Parents paid a fee to place a boy with a master craftsman as an apprentice. There he received food, lodging (often sleeping under the counter in the shop itself), clothes, and instruction in the craft.

The period of apprenticeship lasted for 2-7 years, after which time the apprentice became a journeyman. The term has nothing to do with traveling; it comes from the French "journee", (day), and meant that the journeyman was paid by the day for his work. After several years as a journeyman the craftsman would submit a piece of his best work to the guild for approval. If this "master-piece" was accepted he could become a master craftsman and own his own shop.

All townsmen were free, and this provided some incentive for serfs to run away to the towns. If they could remain there for a year and a day they were considered free and could not be compelled to return to the manor.

Before Edward I all repairs to streets were the responsibility of adjacent householders. After Edward's time town councils began to take over more responsibility. New roadways were often built directly on top of the old with little attempt to clear it away. Thus repairs never lasted long. There was also the possibility that a citizen would build his section higher than his neighbour. Because of this practice street levels rose and rose. In London the original Roman roads are buried up to 20 feet beneath the street level of today.

Roads were narrow, and tradesmen and householders were constantly encroaching on them. Traffic moved slowly, not least because tolls at the town gates were often paid in kind (that is, with goods rather than money), causing delays and long lineups.

Sanitation was a constant concern. Open drain channels ran along the sides or down the centre of streets. Many stables opened out onto the streets and muck heaps encroached on passage. People often threw dirty water out of windows in the general direction of the drains. Dyers vats were particularly noxious when they were emptied into the street. Again the onus was on the individual householder to keep the space in front of his house relatively clean. In practice the only real incentive to do so was an outbreak of the plague or a visit of the King.

Pigs were another nuisance in the streets. Most people kept pigs. They were cheap, and a good source of food. However, houses were small and gardens even smaller, so pigs were often let out into the streets to forage. Stray pigs were such a nuisance that they were liable to be killed and the owner charged for the return of the dead animal.

Law and order in the town was enforced by the beadle or constables, who could call on citizens to form a night Watch. If a "hue and cry" was raised to chase a criminal all citizens had to join in or risk being fined. The penalty for the criminal was much higher. A thief found in possession of stolen goods was hanged.

If a fugitive managed to reach a church they could claim the right of sanctuary there for a period of 40 days. This meant that someone would have to stand watch outside the church for the entire time to ensure that the fugitive did not escape, a duty that no one wanted. Towns could even be fined if the felon escaped. At any one time in the Middle Ages it has been estimated that there were as many as 1000 people in sanctuary throughout England.

Curfews were imposed in towns to keep the peace. Originally the "curfew bell" was rung at 8 or 9 o'clock in the evening to indicate that it was time for smiths, brewers, and taverners to cease their working day. It became the custom that anyone abroad after that had to carry a light and have a good excuse for being out. The carrying of weapons was carefully regulated, especially where foreigners were concerned. Nobility, as usual, were exempt from these regulations. There were also laws prohibiting the wearing of masks in the street; this after an attempt on the life of Henry IV by some nobles disguised as Christmas mummers.

Fire was the constant fear of town dwellers. Due to closely packed wooden houses and inadequate water supply, fires were difficult to control and could produce widespread damage. There were other factors that increased the risks of fire; Beds were of straw and were commonly kept close to open hearths for warmth. Roofs of reeds, rushes and straw were common. It was only after 1213 that these materials were forbidden in London in favour of tile and shingles. Other places were slow to follow London's lead.

Although stone building was encouraged, expense meant that most houses were built of wood up until Tudor times. Then, the flourishing new brick industry and a rapidly falling timber supply swung the tide away from wood as the material of choice for most domestic building. Cooks, barbers, and brewers were heavily regulated because of the risk their fires posed. Their premises had to be whitewashed and plastered inside and out.

Each householder was required to keep a full vessel of water outside his door in summer, due to fire risk. When fires did occur it was every citizen's duty to come running with whatever equipment they had. Often firehooks were used to haul burning thatch off a roof, and also to pull down adjacent buildings to provide a firebreak.

The day officially began with the ringing of the Angelus bell at 4 or 5 o'clock. It announced the first mass of the day and the end of the night watchman's duty. Most shops opened at 6 AM, providing plenty of early morning shopping before the first meal of the day at 9 or 10 AM.

Morning was the active time for markets. Things quieted down after noon, and most shops closed at 3 o'clock. Some kept open until light faded, and others, such as the barbers and blacksmiths, were open until the curfew bell sounded. Foreign merchants were heavily regulated. They had to wait two or more hours before they could enter the market, giving the locals the best of the business.

Markets were noisy, raucous affairs. Merchants had to "cry the wares" as their only means of advertising, and some had to be fined for forcibly grabbing hold of passers-by in their enthusiasm to make a sale.

Saturday was early closing day for shops. Usually noon was the close of business. Sunday, however, the "Lord's day of rest", was not kept as restful as we might think. Some trades were allowed to work after Mass, and some field work was allowed to be done before it. A few places even had the privilege of Sunday markets.

Bells were the main medium of telling time and making announcements. A Common Bell was rung to summon civic meetings, courts, and as an alarm in case of fire or attack. The town crier rang a hand bell when he walked throughout the town declaiming news and proclamations. The criers were the main source of news for town dwellers. They also had the task of ringing their bells to solicit prayers in memory of people who had paid for the privilege.

Each village would have had skilled craftsmen; carpenters, wheelwrights and blacksmiths. Overseeing and representing the villagers was the reeve. This person was elected by the villagers and helped defend the rights of the villagers at the manor. The hayward had to make sure the animals in the village did not stray too far or start eating the crops.

Watermills and windmills would have been a common sight in medieval villages and were used to grind the corn. The mills were owned by the Lord of the manor. Villeins were allowed to take their own corn to the mill for grinding but had to give some corn in payment for the service. Windmills were built on rotating bases so that they could be turned into the wind.

Dovecotes were buildings used to house and rear pigeons. In medieval times young pigeon meat was eaten as a delicacy. The pigeons were also kept for their eggs and their feathers. Most dovecotes are circular in shape and could hold several hundred birds. The buildings were designed to keep out rodents which could eat the eggs. The dovecotes may not have been popular with the villeins as the birds would eat their corn.

Fish was widely eaten during the Medieval era and to provide a fresh supply many manors had a fish pond constructed.

Ten percent (a tenth) of what the villages produced was given to the church. The produce was stored in a barn called a tithe barn.

Generally the village was self sufficient, meaning it could grow enough food and supply all the needs for the villagers within it. The luxuries would have been bought at the larger fairs. For more information on markets and fairs, see the Markets and Fairs page. Problems arose for the village when the weather during the year was bad. If the crops failed it was likely to cause a famine. There does not appear to have been a way of storing surplus food from good years to be used in bad years.

Large amounts of forest were cut down in medieval times as wood was required for fuel, building castles, churches, homes and ships. The reduction of woodland became so great that conservation methods were required. Coppicing was a method they used to preserve the trees while still taking what they needed from them. The idea behind coppicing is to cut back young trees so that many smaller offshoots are produced. These offshoots were then harvested every few years. With the reduction in wood other fuels were needed. One of these was coal.

In medieval times coal was mined and used in the production of iron. Most of the coal was mined in open-cast mines where the coal seams were easily found above or just below the surface of the land. When the easily mined coal began to run out people turned to seacoal. The name seacoal is thought to have been used because the coal was found washed up on beaches but this seems unlikely. Lead iron ore and tin were also mined in medieval times.

So let's end this article about how our Dalton's lived in the middle ages, or medieval times. As you have read in the above story our Dalton family enjoyed life in the upper class of people. Thats why we can find so many records of their life.