This new blog is about the variations that can be observed in the shells of edible marine molluscs – such as oysters, cockles, winkles and whelks – and how these differences can help us understand the way that marine shellfish resources were exploited in the past. It will look at seashells from archaeological excavations and also from modern mollusc populations. It will mostly be about the European Flat Oyster (British Native Oyster) Ostrea edulis Linnaeus.
Oysters etc. will draw on studies I have made over the past thirty years – during which time I have examined and recorded the measurements and macroscopic details of many thousands of oyster shells and analysed the resulting quantitative and qualitative data. The research has mostly been undertaken on archaeological material from sites in southern England dating to the last two thousand years.
I will summarise the published and the unpublished reports I have compiled and give full references to the work. Where possible, I will make pdf files of unpublished reports available.
My main aim is to share the knowledge I have acquired about understanding the lives of people in the past through the study of oyster and other marine mollusc shells; and to provide information for anyone wanting to undertake similar research in the future.