Our key research questions are organised in five complementary thematic strands that reflect the economic, social, political, material, and cultural significance of intoxicants. Each of the strands involves specific questions, to be answered with particular series of sources and data, and a clearly defined methodology. However, our overarching aim is to consider the interplay and relationships between each of the strands, especially in the context of our database.

Two Provincial Case Studies

In order to keep the amount of work manageable, our project is comparative, based on provincial case studies: the North West (Cheshire and South Lancashire) and East Anglia (Norfolk). The two case study sites have been chosen on the basis of the survival of requisite sources, extant historiography and datasets, and their geographical orientation (facing towards the Atlantic and Europe respectively). In each instance the field of research is delineated by a head-port and its sub-ports (as depicted in port books) and the international, national, and provincial trading systems these serve, i.e. Liverpool/Chester (Cheshire), and Great Yarmouth/King’s Lynn (Norfolk). The project will reconstruct the economy and culture of intoxicants in selected urban and rural communities in each of these delineated areas. Urban communities include the provincial capitals Chester and Norwich; smaller urban and rural settlements will be identified once the survival and distribution of records has been properly established.