Bespoke toilet seat company pledges funds towards preservation of ancient loo seat.

Vindolanda Trust - Tuesday, October 07, 2014

As world-wide interest in the discovery of an ancient toilet seat in Northumberland continues a bespoke toilet seat manufacturer Tosca & Willoughby based in Oxfordshire have stepped forward and pledged a cash sum towards its preservation.  James Williams, Director of Tosca & Willoughby said ‘we are absolutely fascinated by the discovery of a perfectly preserved ancient loo seat, as our own seats are handcrafted we admire the Roman craftsmanship which in this case has certainly stood the test of time’. 

Mr Williams approached the Vindolanda Trust to help support the conservation of this seat when discovering the Vindolanda Trust was funded by visitors to the site.  Mr Williams went on to say ‘we realise our donation is a drop in the ocean when you consider the overall cost of excavation and the preservation of these fascinating artefacts but we hope our continued pledges will help even in a small way towards the work of the Trust’.  Tosca & Willoughby will be producing a special edition version of their most popular Thunderbox seat, with a percentage of the sales going to the Vindolanda Trust.

 

Patricia Birley, Director of the Vindolanda Trust commented ‘the work undertaken at Vindolanda which includes annual excavations, conservation and public display of artefacts can only happen with the support of the general public. The Trust is therefore delighted to receive a donation towards the cost of preserving our Roman toilet seat. The  Romans were well known for their fine craftsmanship and it is great to see these traditions continue in the U.K with companies like Tosca & Willoughby’. 

 

 

 

 

 

The discovery of such a personal everyday item from nearly 2000 years ago has intrigued people across the world and its legacy will now continue with a special edition ‘Vindolanda’ Thunderbox seat being launched by Tosca & Willoughby in time for the ancient loo seat going on public display.

 

 Link to Press release pdf

 

ENDS

Photos available:  Roman Latrine (toilet) seat.

                             Thunderbox seat, Tosca & Willoughby

For further information please contact:

Sonya Galloway, The Vindolanda Trust, 01434 344277 sonyagalloway@vindolanda.com

 www.vindolanda.com

www.facebook.com/vindolandatrust

www.twitter.com/@vindolandatrust 

James Williams, Director, Tosca & Willoughby Ltd, 01844 353477 james@looseats.com

www.looseats.com

 

PRESS RELEASE - Earliest known wooden toilet seat discovered at Vindolanda

Vindolanda Trust - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Finding something that you can relate to is always a special moment on an archaeological dig. At Vindolanda this is a common occurrence, a site where the special qualities lie not only in the discovery of gold and silver or artefacts which relate to the military might of the Roman Army but also of everyday ordinary items which nearly 2000 years later become extraordinary to the modern day visitors, volunteers and archaeologists alike. Personal letters, worn shoes, baby booties, socks, combs, jewellery, tools and textiles are just some of the items preserved in a remarkable condition that provide you with a unique window into the lives of people stationed at this most northern outpost of the Roman Empire.   

 

Now archaeologists have another piece of this very personal human hoard at Vindolanda, a wooden latrine (toilet) seat, was discovered by the Director of Excavations, Dr Andrew Birley, in the deep pre-hadrianic trenches at Vindolanda. There are many examples of stone and marble seat benches from across the Roman Empire but this is believed to be the only surviving wooden seat, almost perfectly preserved in the anaerobic, oxygen free, conditions which exist at Vindolanda. Although this wooden seat is not as grand as a marble or stone toilet bench, it would be far more comfortable to sit on in the cool climate of Britannia.  The seat has clearly been well used and was decommissioned from its original purpose and discarded amongst the rubbish left behind in the final fort at the site before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall started in the early second century.

 

Dr Birley commented on the find ‘there is always great excitement when you find something that has never been seen before and this discovery is wonderful....’ Andrew went on to say ‘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. 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. Let’s face it, if you drop something down a Roman latrine you are unlikely to attempt to fish it out unless you are pretty brave or foolhardy’.  Discoveries at Vindolanda from latrines have included a baby boot, coins, a betrothal medallion, and a bronze lamp.

 

 

Archaeologists now need to find a ‘spongia’ the natural sponge on a stick which Romans used instead of toilet paper, and with over 100 years of archaeology remaining and the unique conditions for the preservation of such organic finds a discovery may just be possible.

 

 

The wooden seat will take up to 18 months to conserve and once this process is complete the artefact will be put on display at the Roman Army Museum.

 

 

 

 

ENDS

Photos attached:  Latrine (toilet) seat.

For further information please contact:

Sonya Galloway, The Vindolanda Trust, 01434 344277 sonyagalloway@vindolanda.com

 www.vindolanda.com

www.facebook.com/vindolandatrust

www.twitter.com/@vindolandatrust 

CLICK TO LINK TO PDF OF PRESS RELEASE

Notes to editors:

Vindolanda Charitable Trust

The Vindolanda Trust is an independent archaeological charitable trust, founded in 1970. The Vindolanda Trust does not receive any annual funding and relies on the visitors to both Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum to fund its archaeological, conservation and education work.

Roman Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum are both situated in the heart of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, Roman Vindolanda is just to the north of the village of Bardon Mill and the Roman Army Museum is next to the village of Greenhead.

Roman Vindolanda is regarded as the most exciting archaeological site in Europe with its wealth of archaeological remains and ongoing excavations. Vindolanda is home to the world famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets, voted as Britain’s top archaeological treasure by the British Museum, these thin hand written wooden notes have revealed an astonishing amount of first hand information from the people who lived at this site 2000 years ago.

For further information visit www.vindolanda.com or telephone 01434 344 277

 


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