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Helle's Toilet to Go on Display

Cities as old as London get renovated many times, and often it's easier to build on top of old buildings, streets, and rivers than to remove them. That means history can be excavated hundreds of years later. A new exhibition called Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands explores findings from a time before most of the city's waterways were channeled underground. One outstanding exhibit is a 12th-century toilet seat, an oak plank from an outhouse that could accommodate three users at once!

The strikingly well preserved seat, still showing the axe marks where its three rough holes were cut, once sat behind a mixed commercial and residential tenement building on what is now Ludgate Hill, near St Paul’s Cathedral, on land that in the mid-1100s would have been a small island in the river Fleet.

Remarkably, archaeologists have even been able to identify the owners of the building, which was known at the time as Helle: a capmaker called John de Flete and his wife, Cassandra. “So what I love about this is that we know the names of the people whose bottoms probably sat on it,” said Kate Sumnall, the curator of archaeology for the exhibition.

They would probably have shared the facilities with shopkeepers and potentially other families who lived and worked in the modest tenement block, she said. “This is a really rare survival. We don’t have many of these in existence at all.”

Yeah, there's a reason London doesn't have three-hole loos anymore. Life was certainly different in the 1100s. Read more about the toilet and the exhibit at The Guardian. -via Nag on the Lake

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One item the article neglected to mention; The archaeologists also found a note from the landlord, John de Flete, promising to have the plumber come by next Thursday to fix the toilet
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