Baking Bread in Roman Times

Roman millers used rotary querns for most milling purposes.  Saddle querns were used for small scale milling in early roman times.  Milling grain was a labour intensive process and often slaves were used to mill on an industrial scale. 

Grains used – Polish Wheat, Emmer Wheat, Spelt Wheat and Khorasan Wheat.

Flour types – Whole-wheat, Sifted white flour (Siligo).

Roman bakers were required to be members of the Collegium Pistorum (Bakers Guild) and the closely guarded recipes for bread were standardised across the Roman Empire.  It was a boast of the bakers that bread purchased in Rome was the same as bread purchased in Gaul.  Bread baking recipes were recorded by Caelius Apicius in 230 AD.  These recipes would have been used in North Staffordshire during the Roman occupation of Britain.

Roman houses did not have their own ovens, even the very wealthy would purchase bread from the bakers.  Many Roman bakers would sell bread at the roadside, outside of their bakeries, often at the side or back of their own houses.  For civil events, the bakers would transport loaves by cart to the site and sell bread directly to the public alongside other food stall holders.

The standardisation of baking also extended to ovens, which were made to a specific design.  A typical baking oven in Pompeii would be the same design and proportions as one in Cairo - and such ovens still exist today on archaeological sites.


Lenticulum – A round loaf with 8 segments made using Emmer flour and honey.  This “Breakfast bread” was the bread for soldiers to eat with their daily main meal.

Lenticulum brevis – Small bread with 4 segments, to be eaten at family meals, often made using Spelt flour after 300 BC.

Panis tenuis – Flat bread made from mixed grains and eaten with meat or fish.

Ostreus – Small bread made with Garam or other fish sauce for eating with oysters.

Pane Calceus – Slipper bread, the early Roman version of Ciabatta.