The History of Mead

The history of mead goes back into the aeons of time. It is without doubt a strong contender to be classed as the ancestor of all fermented honey drinks making it one of the oldest alcoholic drinks. Chinese pottery dating from 7000-6500 BC was found to contain chemical signatures of honey along with organic compounds of fermentation. Around 1700-1100 BC the great mead is mentioned in the hymns of the Rigvede one of the sacred books of the historical Vedic Religion. In ancient Greece mead is said to have been the preferred drink for Aristotle (384-322 BC), in his work, Meteorologica. In England it was the tipple of King Arthur and Beowulf’s alcoholic beverage of choice. The origin of mead appears to be simply fermented honey and water. The years have seen many varieties of mead enjoyed and there are many different meads of interest. Of particular interest to us has been the Roman Mulsum honey based wine and also mead made through the blending of honey with grape juice (called Pyment). The terms mead and honey wine are often used synonymously. Made today exclusively on The Holy Island of Lindisfarne our mead production was inspired by the rich history of our Island. It was developed during the last century to capture the deep rooted historical and cultural overtones of our region. Wanting to keep the rich history of our lands alive we have embraced ancient Rome’s favoured approach of using grape juice in our fermentation process. With an alcohol content of 14% it is said that different types of mead could be as strong as 20% ABV Lindisfarne is a tidal island one mile off the coast of Northumberland, England’s most northern County. Both have experienced the most dramatic events and phases of change that have shaped modern day Britain and the culture of the United Kingdom. The Romans under Julius Caesar invaded our lands 55 years before Christ was born bringing with them their culture and cuisine. Mead was believed by many to have major health benefits and was considered a folk medicine. It was Pollio Romulus who at the age of 100 wrote to Julius Caesar and put his longevity and virility down to the regular consumption of their spiced mead. It had the name Metheglin. Kings and queens in Spain and France drank mead, Elizabeth I of England even had her own recipe (c1600). Many centuries later, in the 1960s to be more precise, J Michael Hackett began production of Lindisfarne Mead on Holy Island. Now in the hands of the Harry Hotspur Holdings Ltd, since 2014, in an aim for the business to grow and to advance into the wider market. Their aim is to help heritage food and drink businesses in Northumberland.