Tyne & Wear

Hadrian's Wall dig unearths 2,000-year-old toilet seat

Toilet unearthed at Vindolanda
Image caption Experts believe the toilet seat is the only find of its kind

Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old, perfectly preserved wooden toilet seat at a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

Experts at Vindolanda believe it is the only find of its kind and dates from the 2nd Century.

The site, near Hexham, has previously revealed gold and silver coins and other artefacts of the Roman army.

The seat was discovered in a muddy trench, which was previously filled with rubbish.

Dr Andrew Birley, director of excavations at Vindolanda, said: "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.

'Astonishing artefacts'

"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."

Dr Birley said many examples of stone and marble toilet benches existed from across the Roman Empire, but this is believed to be the only surviving wooden seat.

He said it was probably preferred to a cold stone seat given the "chilly northern location".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites