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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Medieval Wooden Toilet Seat Preserved in London

Friday, February 15, 2019

London Medieval Toilet SeatLONDON, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that a twelfth-century toilet seat unearthed in the 1980s has been restored and will go on display at the Museum of London Docklands for the first time later this year. The seat, carved with three holes from oak planks, was placed behind a mixed commercial and residential tenement building on what was a small island in the River Fleet, a tributary of the Thames. The building, known as Helle, was owned by a cap maker named John de Flete and his wife, Cassandra. Curator of archaeology Kate Sumnall said the family probably shared the seat with other shopkeepers and families living in the tenement block. “This is a really rare survival,” she said. “We don’t have many of these in existence at all.” The Fleet and many other small rivers and tributaries in London were eventually routed underground as the city grew. Conservator Luisa Duarte said the low-oxygen environment produced by the muddy underground rivers has preserved a wealth of wood and leather artifacts. To read about another recent discovery in London, go to “Die With Your Boots On.”

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