Archaeologists unearth 12th-century three-person loo seat

15th of March 2019
Archaeologists unearth 12th-century three-person loo seat

A 12th-century toilet seat built to accommodate three users at once is to go on display at a London museum.

The well-preserved exhibit still shows the axe marks where three rough holes were cut for seats. It was excavated in the 1980s as part of a major archaeological dig. But when money for the venture ran out, the results of the findings remained unpublished - which is why the seat is only now being displayed for the first time.

The seat once served a tenement building built for commercial and residential use on what is now Ludgate Hill, near St Paul's Cathedral. In the mid-1100s the land on which the building stood would have been a small island in the River Fleet, from which Fleet Street gets its name.

Research has revealed that the 12th century building belonged to a cap-maker named John de Flete and his wife, Cassandra. The toilet seat would have been placed over a cesspit near a tributary of the Thames and the couple would probably have shared it with shopkeepers and potentially other families who lived and worked in the same block as well.

It will go on display at the Museum of London Docklands as the centrepiece of an exhibition concerning London's secret rivers. This will include information about the 50 known rivers and tributaries of the Thames including the Westbourne, Effra and Tyburn, all of which have now been rerouted underground.

The museum has also commissioned a replica of the toilet seat which will be available for visitors to try out.



Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited