Fascinating facts and weird history as author comes to Diss
PUBLISHED: 14:57 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:09 22 November 2018
A drunken king. A 'tax' on pregnant daughters with illegitimate children. Rival markets…The Little History of Suffolk is a book that has facts aplenty - many weird and funny.
One thing you really didn’t want to be in Bronze Age Suffolk was a laid-back procrastinator. The clock ticked quite loudly as soon as you were born, so best crack on with life.
“The average age of death for men was 34, whereas for women it was 37½,” says the book’s author Sarah E Doig, who will be at Diss Publishing Bookshop on November 24 to meet readers and signs copies.
It was a short existence in more ways than one. “Their average height was smaller than modern-day man at 5ft 7½in and women at 5ft 4in.”
These are just a couple of the intriguing facts that pepper Sarah’s book. She hopes her selection “stimulates the mind, and leaves you more informed and interested than you were before picking up the book”.
Another fascinating section centres on the growth and rivalries of local markets.
Sarah, who lives in Rickinghall, just south of Diss, explains: “Understandably, there was much competition between neighbouring markets, and a 13th century lawyer had even recommended that a distance of at least 6.6 miles be maintained between markets.
“Hoxne struggled to compete with the market in nearby Eye. In Norman times, both had held markets and both originally on a Saturday. Hoxne had therefore been forced to move its market to a Friday, and in 1227 a charter moved the market day again, to a Wednesday. “This may have been due to the fact that, almost at the same time, neighbouring Stradbroke and Laxfield were also given permission to hold markets on Friday and Saturday respectively.”
Sarah was actually born in Hertfordshire but counts herself a Suffolk girl: she was only a year old when she moved with her family to Mildenhall and, later, Bury St Edmunds.
She went to school there, left for university, travelled the world during 20 years with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and came back to Suffolk in 2010. She now works as a freelance local history researcher.
• The Little History of Suffolk is published by The History Press at £12 (hard cover) and £5.99 (Kindle).
• She will be at Diss Publishing Bookshop on November 24 between 10.30am and 1pm.