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Garderobes & Gongfermors: Going to the Privy in the Mediaeval Era

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The design, function and attitudes of going to the toilet in the mediaeval era

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Going to the toilet is an everyday event for literally everyone that has ever lived. However, there has been a prudish reticence among architectural specialists to research and present the archaeology of this apparently ordinary practice. Despite this, there is a wealth of data which can be drawn upon to explain the latrinal habits of people in the mediaeval period.

This data is not just limited to the functional - Where in the building were the privies located? What did they look like? How they were kept clean? There are a whole host of other considerations: What were the mediaeval attitudes towards going to the toilet? Who was allowed to access the garderobe? What were the social implications of doing so? How were privies used to promote notions of elite prestige? This talk will plumb all of these depths...

The lecture is a brand new presentation given as as an addendum to the Triskele Heritage Lockdown Lectures which ran from January-May 2021. As it is a bespoke piece written especially for this event we will be asking for crowd-funded donations to help cover the time spent in writing the talk :-)

The speaker, James Wright (Triskele Heritage), is an award winning buildings archaeologist. He has two decades professional experience of ferreting around in people’s cellars, hunting through their attics and digging up their gardens. He hopes to find meaningful truths about how ordinary and extraordinary folk lived their lives in the mediaeval period.

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