Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 October 2017
This article discusses the research potential of rubbish dumps for the study of rural household market access during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By investigating the global commodity networks associated with four rubbish dumps excavated by the authors in the East Anglian region, at Hempstead (Norfolk), Kirton and Falkenham (Suffolk) and Holme Hale (Norfolk), the article will show how these archives can be used to locate individual rural households within the international capitalist system. This article also discusses the potential challenges faced when analysing the historic rubbish dump archives.
2. In this article, the authors refer to midden deposits as ‘rubbish dumps’. These deposits contain materials discarded by the owners and placed in an area away from everyday activities.
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5. Adams, Bowers and Mills, ‘Commodity flow’, 75, 76.
6. North Norfolk Bottle Group, <www.norfolkbottles.com/kingslynn.htm#bagge> [accessed 1st February 2017].
7. Harris, Ginn and Coroneos, ‘How to dig’, 21.
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9. The contents of a rubbish dump can be dated based on the composition of the archive, the style of the artefacts and pottery marks.
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17. No trench was excavated to a depth greater than 1.5 m.
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20. Personal communication, Tom Licence.
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22. Davies, ‘Mapping commodities’, 347.
23. Riordan and Adams, ‘Commodity flows’, 5.
30. Licence, What the Victorians Threw Away, p. 36.
31. Producers of high-end, expensive products did not need to incorporate a deposit into their price. These products would afford to absorb the cost of the packaging.
32. Busch, ‘Second time’, 70, 72–3.
34. Norfolk Record Office DC 4/1/10, Council Minutes of Loddon Rural District Council 1934–6, 18th February 1935, p. 43.
35. Essex Record Office D/ROn 1/1/1, Ongar Rural District Council Minutes 1906–1911, 23rd April 1907.
36. Adams, Bowers and Mills, ‘Commodity flow’, 79.
37. These are only products that can be classified as being food, drink or health-related.
38. Food contains any product that could be eaten, for example Bovril, meat paste, fish paste and sauce. Drink contains any liquid that could be consumed, for example beer, wine, mineral water and ginger beer. Health contains any product that was meant to cure an illness or used as a preventative measure, for example toothpaste, cough cures.
39. Davies, ‘Mapping commodities’, 348.
41. Tom Licence, <www.whatthevictoriansthrewaway.com/a-norfolk-rectory-part-2/> [accessed 8th February 2017].
42. Licence, What the Victorians Threw Away, p. 83.
43. The authors are arbitrarily defining local as within 30 km of the consumer.
44. The design of medicine bottles is distinct. Even if they were not branded, it would still be possible to identify that they originally contained medicine.
45. Licence, What the Victorians Threw Away, pp. 69, 74.
46. Adams, Bowers and Mills, ‘Commodity flow’, 73.
47. Riordan and Adams, ‘Commodity flows’, 6.
48. Adams, ‘Trade networks’, 105.
49. Licence, What the Victorians Threw Away, p. 10.
50. Adams, ‘Trade networks’, 109, 110.
51. Adams, Bowers and Mills, ‘Commodity flow’, 75.
52. Louise Hepburn, ‘Fenland's Ark! This Floating Church came to you in Victorian West Norfolk’, Eastern Daily Press (2015), <www.edp24.co.uk/news/fenland_s_ark_this_floating_church_came_to_you_in_victorian_west_norfolk_1_4161396> [accessed 12th January 2017].
53. It is the authors’ hope that, eventually, a global database of packaging evidence from historic rubbish dumps will be established. This tool would enable in-depth analysis of changing patterns of consumption (such as the growing preference for branded medicines), the impact of globalisation (evident in the global movement of certain products) and the development of commodity networks and associated consumer choices.