Archaeologists Discovered a 14th-century Cesspit
Thu, October 21, 2021

Archaeologists Discovered a 14th-century Cesspit


Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) were excavating the basement at The Courtauld Institute of Art when they discovered a 14th-century cesspit. The pit is quite large with a square of about 15 feet by 15 feet (4.5 meters) constructed with chalk walls about 3 feet (1 m) wide. It is also more than 13 feet (4 m) deep, although there’s a possibility that it may have been even deeper before it was renovated centuries ago. 


Credits: Live Science


Initial findings showed that the structure was used for human waste for about a century. It had seats over it, which were likely used by residents and visitors of Chester Inn, where the Bishop of Chester stayed while in London. Antonietta Lerz, a senior archaeologist at MOLA, stated that the "cesspits were routinely cleaned out, so the period of use may have been longer than the recovered finds suggest.” She said, "We hope to be able to refine our interpretation once all of the material is properly assessed."


Credits: Live Science


The cesspit was converted into a cellar by the 17th century. According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, several layers of brick flooring were added. Aside from the cesspit itself, the archaeologists found several priceless artifacts within it. This includes a gold-plated ring, an iron spur for riding horses, and a fork from the post-medieval period.


Credits: Live Science


The team also discovered a rare medieval tile depicting "a strange mythical creature with a human head at one end and a leaf-like tail at the other,” which dates to about 1350 to 1390. The tile was part of a four-tile panel made at a tilery (a tile-production shop) in Penn, a village in the district of Buckinghamshire. "Penn tiles were often used in palaces and monastic sites during the medieval period," Lerz said.




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