What is Mead? - The History of Mead

Discover Mead's long and rich history

Mead (Miodh in Irish) is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, referred to as nectar of the gods, ambrosia, honey wine or honeymoon wine.  The earliest discovery of a drink fermented from honey was in northern China in 6500 BC. In Europe, mead residual traces were found in ceramics from 2800-1800 BC, the archaeological culture known as the Beaker culture for its distinctive pottery drinking beakers.

Another stunning discovery of mead was made in a Celtic chieftain’s wagon grave at Hochdorf near Stuttgart, Germany and dated back to 600BC.

Many references are made to Mead in ancient Ireland – The Tuatha De Danann Children of Lir legend references Fionnuala recalling drinking a pleasant mead of hazel nuts with her family before she and her brothers were changed into swans and exiled for 900 years.

Honey bees and beekeeping are said to have been bought to Ireland from Wales in the 5th century AD by a Irish monk named Modomnóc, or St Molaige (founder of the original settlement in Timoleague Tigh Molaige, not far from Kinsale).

The Hill of Tara, seat of the ancient High Kings of Ireland contained the great banqueting hall known as Tech Midchuarta [Meecoorta], the 'mead-circling house’ or Great Mead Hall. This was a huge timber building some 45 feet high and slept up to 1,000 people.