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!
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