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Archaeologists find a very different type of 'treasure' - a 2,000-year-old toilet seat

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/28/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Wooden Roman toilet seat believed to be the only one of its kind

Accustomed to finding priceless coins, artwork and historical artifacts, archaeologists in Great Britain have found an altogether different type of treasure - one that was desperately needed in ancient times - a wooden toilet seat, believed to be 2,000 years old.

Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the 'object' could have been used by soldiers stationed at the border whose job it was to keep the barbarians at bay.

Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the "object" could have been used by soldiers stationed at the border whose job it was to keep the barbarians at bay.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
8/28/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Roman England, toilet seat, Vinolanda


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Perfectly preserved and incredibly rare, the toilet seat is thought to be the only seat of its kind used by the Romans to have survived.

Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the "object" could have been used by soldiers stationed at the border whose job it was to keep the barbarians at bay.

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Archaeologists used to unearthing treasure such as coins and jewels have discovered a 2,000-year old

Archaeologists used to unearthing treasure such as coins and jewels have discovered a 2,000-year old wooden toilet seat. It is thought to be the only set made of wood that has survived since Roman times.


It was definitely a change of pace for Dr. Andrew Birley, director of excavations at the fort, who has previously dug up gold and silver or artefacts which relate to the military might of the Roman army.

Birley personally made the discovery in a muddy trench which was previously filled with historic rubbish and thinks the wood survived because mud was packed tightly around it, providing oxygen-free conditions.

While there are many examples of stone and marble toilet benches from across the Roman Empire, this is believed to be the only surviving wooden seat. In either case, it was probably preferred to a cold stone material given the chilly northern location shunned by many Roman soldiers.

Dr. Andrew Birley discovered the toilet seat in a muddy trench (pictured) which was previously fille

Dr. Andrew Birley discovered the toilet seat in a muddy trench (pictured) which was previously filled with historic rubbish and thinks the wood survived because mud was packed tightly around it.


Vinolanda was a Roman fort south of Hadrian's Wall in northern England, and guarded the Roman road from the River Tyne to Solway Firth.

Wooden tablets have been discovered there. These finds are considered the most important examples of military and private correspondence found anywhere in the Roman Empire. The garrison was home to auxiliary infantry and cavalry units.

Among the many finds at Vinolanda have been Roman boots, shoes, armors, jewelry, coins and tablets have all been found there.

"There is always great excitement when you find something that has never been seen before and this discovery is wonderful," Birley said.

The toilet seat was discovered at Vindolanda fort (pictured) on Hadrian

The toilet seat was discovered at Vindolanda fort (pictured) on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland and was likely used by soldiers stationed at the border whose job it was to keep the barbarians at bay.


"We know a lot about Roman toilets from previous excavations at the site and from the wider Roman world which have included many fabulous Roman latrines but never before have we had the pleasure of seeing a surviving and perfectly preserved wooden seat.

"As soon as we started to uncover it there was no doubt at all on what we had found. It is made from a very well worked piece of wood and looks pretty comfortable," Birley adds.

"Now we need to find the toilet that went with it as Roman loos are fascinating places to excavate - their drains often contain astonishing artefacts.

The toilet seat will go on show at the fort's museum once it has been preserved.

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