Saturday, 14 November 2009

Medieval Scottish pooh - a worthwhile read!

I never thought I would write a post on medieval Scottish pooh, but here goes...!

In the Scottish burghs in times of old, what did people do with their toilet waste?! Conventional belief is that they literally chucked it out of the top window of their houses onto the street, and that our ancestral towns smelt fairly gruseome as a consequence.

In fact, whilst there is some truth to that, it was actually something that burgh authorities were really concerned with, and it was also something that the clever householder could make a bit of money from, selling it to neighbouring farmers to help grow their crops. Don't dwell too much on that though - how our ancestors fed themselves may be just a case of a little bit too much information....!

However, it is a fascinating subject and a brilliant article on the dealings of medieval household waste can be read in the current issue of History Scotland. The article is called Pursuing Improvmenet: Public Hygiene in Scottish Burghs, 1500-1700 and is written by Leona Skelton, who is currently studying a PhD on Attitudes towards Public Hygiene in Scottish Burghs and Northern English Towns, 1560-1700, at Durham University.

Also in the magazine are articles on the use of heraldry and literature for chivalric recognition and the second part of an article on how to research lesbian and gay history in Scotland. A good issue this month.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research


Old Census Scribe said...

May I ask a general question about your blog?

What is the town "across the watter" in the picture you use as your heading? I know a fair bit about the west of Scotland for a Canadian living in England, but I am not sure I can identify it. Towns of one's ancestors can prejudice guesses.

Chris Paton said...

It is a view that I took about three years ago from the town of Gourock, about 15 mins from my house, looking across the Clyde towards Dunoon and Kilcreggan. Hope that helps!