Skip to comments.Archaeologists dig up Shakespeare's 'cesspit'
Posted on 04/06/2010 8:08:59 PM PDT by rdl6989
Archaeologists believe they are on the cusp of shedding new light on the life of William Shakespeare by digging up what may have been the playwrights cesspit.
Experts have begun excavating the ruins of New Place, Shakespeares former home in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was demolished 250 years ago.
Although little remains of the property, the team, led by Birmingham Archaeology, believes it has identified a rubbish tip or cesspit used by the 16th century poet.
Fragments of pottery and broken clay pipe have already been retrieved from a muddy hole on the site, which they claim could yield some of the most significant discoveries about Shakespeare in decades.
The dig focuses on three areas of the property, which Shakespeare bought in 1597 when he returned to his home town from London having achieved fame including the so-called knot garden at the rear of the building.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
It may be Shakespeare’s cesspit, but then again, that which we call a cesspit by any other name would smell as bad.
Think about it. The dump is where people don't tidy things up and where almost everything winds up. Roman cesspits in Bath and along the Wall gave us actual leather shoes, wooden artifacts and other neat stuff.
It's an anaerobic environment and preserves stuff wonderfully. And after 500 years or so it's not stinky either. Just muddy.
It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it — I guess.
We lived in Yorktown Virginia for a couple of years around 1960. I dug up white clay pipe stems and pottery while digging a flower bed. It was fun.
Old outhouse locations are great places to dig if your looking for old bottles, coins, anything that used to be carried in pockets.
When I was a kid I thought it'd be cool to be an archaeologist. I used to pour through my national geographic magazines and wonder at all the places to see in the world. Now all I think is, while it may not stink, I know what that "mud" was made of.
I suppose there is no chance of recovering any Shakespeare DNA. Right?
A book will be written about it called “Getting Busy with the Bard’s Muddy Hole.”
It could be important. Maybe the Bard was sitting there one day and thinking “now this character who gets the head of an ass in this Midsummer Night’s Dream play—what should I name him?”
“Here I sit,broken hearted, had to....blah blah blah”.
No, this is a great way to study the material culture of the past! My ancestors’ cesspit was excavated in rural Virginia and it revealed a goldmine of information about the way they lived. I drove out to see the dig a few times. It was fascinating to see the bits of old pipes, shoe buckles, buttons, combs, etc. they used. The best part: there were shards of dishes left there that were identified as being Wedgwood, and because Wedgwood hasn’t changed in the past 200 years I was able to go out and buy dishes in the same pattern my ancestors used.
This is very cool.
Crappy job. But then, what’s a shite hole for?
Yes, it was. When I saw the shards I phoned Wedgwood in the UK and asked them what museums in the US would have samples of the types of dishes they had in the US in the late eighteenth century. The nice Englishwoman at the other end of the line said, "May I have your postcode, please?" I gave her my zip; there was a pause; then she said, "The nearest place you could see the patterns we had in the late eighteenth century is called Bloomingdales, in North Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Is that convenient to you?" I blithered that Bloomie's was a modern US department store and she explained patiently that I did not require to go to a museum--their patterns were unchanged in the past two hundred years, they used the same molds then as now, and the only difference is that the dishes now say "Wedgwood" on the bottom.
This is very cool.
It sure is...just imagine the fun at formal family dinners trying to guess which person has the plate that's spent the last few hundred years marinating in poo.
Is it wrong to get excited about antiquities?
Hey, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it!
Send it in to Mike Rowe at Dirty Jobs!
I saw this yesterday but withheld comment.
The ultimate in recycling.
If it isn't infectious, I don't worry about it.
You know the definition of an anthropologist? An otherwise normal human being who doesn't believe in the germ theory of disease.
Well, that sounds like a working theory of a definition until a better one can be found.
Wedgewood hasn't kept all its patterns. My great-grandmother's Wedgewood is "Conway". That pattern was discontinued over 50 years ago.
You CAN get replacement plates and whatnot at some of the china outlets, and only the dinner plates, soup dishes, and salad plates have the floral decal that distinguishes the pattern. The base pattern is "Edme" which is probably Wedgewood's most common pattern and has always been available, so no problem replacing teacups, saucers, etc.
(Isn't that a lovely word to go look up?)
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
You’re right, I had to look it up.
Gongfermors or gong-scourers were men who went round emptying medieval previes and cesspits.
Where there was no convenient moat or stream, people dug a pit, or used a removable barrel. In either case the sewage had to be removed in due course. In 1281, 13 men took five nights to clear the cloaca at Newgate Prison-—on triple pay! At Hampton Court in Henry VIII’s time the gongfermors had a formidable task.
It was “Queen’s Plain.”
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Better they should dig him up and check his pockets, check his wallet. Never mind that doggerel about a curse.
Lift a little DNA while they’re at it.
Well played, my man!
Me too. Then I turned 16 and found out that you actually had to get dirty looking for stuff, and the profession lost its appeal. You know, I had imagined myself finding Egyptian relics while wearing white Capri pants and thong sandals! Furthermore, logic set in and I decided that all the "good" stuff had already been discovered. Little did I imagine about what wonderful tools we would invent in order to delve further and further into past civilizations.
It’s really Bacon’s cesspit. Trust me on this. I have unique insight.
One of the points that I woke up on it was back when the Leakey's were discovering "Lucy" and the area was desolate and they were digging endlessly in the sun. Now digging in the shade, examining artifacts, traveling around...those were appealing...sitting in the relentless African sun digging in the dirt...not so much.
I retire in 5 years. Maybe I will take it up as a volunteer.
So, you’re saying that Shakespeare’s **** don’t stink?
An English knot garden is a beautiful expression of the art of interweaving rows of short hedges and plants in a manner that reminds one of medieval tapestries hanging on manor walls in intricate knots.
The beauty of a knot garden will be perfectly kept hedges that form not only a pathway through the garden, but a geometric, synchronous pattern that brings order and yet has nature as its main component. Color can be added by the use of short-growing compact flowering plants. The knot garden, large or small, is generally edged by a log or plank frame. It is not what is commonly referred to as a "maze" which has high hedgerows.
The center of a knot garden can be a gazebo, a fountain, statuary or other artistic form.
The beauty and startling effect of a knot garden is most effective when viewed from the upper floor windows of a manor house or a multi-story building.
English knot gardens and their counterparts, French parterres, can be seen today on the tourist trails of castles, manors, palaces and chateaux.
And neither will yours or mine in 500 years!
Just found out by reading around that they've discontinued the Edme' pattern as of 2006. Oops.
Well, it'll last out my time.
Hmmm... Comforting! My **** won’t stink!
Wonder if they will discover used sheets of foolscrap with some addendums to Willie’s known works, done while he was on the throne?
“...to be constipated or not, that is the question.”
“Aye, here’s the rub.”
“Out, out damned spot.”
“Here I sit, broken hearted...”
You can get more of your discontinued patterns at Replacements.com. Wonderful guys, great company, great prices. And if, like me, you have some other old patterns you don’t know the name of, you can send them a picture or two and they’ll identify it for you, then search nationwide to find more of it.
My co-workers are looking at me strangely as I keep re-reading this - it's as hysterical on the tenth time as it was the first.
ping. Pay particular attention to post 19, but you have to work up to it.
Ah...it's my pleasure to entertain.