A family cooking in the Neolithic period (© Historic England/drawing by Peter Urmston)

A timeline of food in Britain

Since the Neolithic period, many types of food have become available to people living in the British Isles. The Romans brought a variety of exotic foods, and European exploration of other parts of the world led to imports of new foodstuffs such as potatoes, tomatoes, sugar and chocolate.

Use this timeline to find out when different foods became widely available in Britain.

 A Timeline of Food

10,000–4000 bcMesolithic

Hunter-gatherers would have exploited the huge range of edible species that are native to the British Isles. This included hunting wild animals and birds, gathering leaves, roots and fruit from plants, and catching fish and shellfish.

Mesolithic food

4000–2200 BCNeolithic

Domestic animals and plants were first brought to the British Isles from the Continent in about 4000 BC, heralding the start of the Neolithic period. As well as keeping domesticated animals such as cattle, pigs and sheep, people were cultivating crops such as wheat and barley.

Neolithic food
Read more about Neolithic food and feasting

Find out more

  • Some of the types of food available at the time Stonehenge was built

    Food and Feasting at Stonehenge

    Find out what the people who built and used Stonehenge ate, how they cooked and served their food, and the cutting-edge science behind how we know.

  • Neolithic cheese making

    Why did we start making cheese?

    Dr Penny Bickle explains how Neolithic people were lactose-intolerant and had to process milk in order to digest it properly.

  • Neolithic reenactor at Stonehenge

    Neolithic ingenuity

    Take a look back in time at seven ingenious innovations devised by our Neolithic ancestors.

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