Medieval Poop Found: Still Stinks

The well-preserved excrement reveals that these Medieval Danish ate lots of raspberries and used moss as toilet paper. Continue reading →

A number of Medieval wooden barrels have been uncovered in Denmark, revealing their less- than-glamorous contents.

Originally built to transport goods and store fish, the barrels were converted into latrines - still filled with their original contents.

"We are talking about 700-year-old latrines. And yes, they still smell bad," Maria Elisabeth Lauridsen, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, told Discovery News.

Photos: Digging Up a Medieval Latrine

Unearthed in the center of the Medieval town of Odense, the birthplace of the fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, the barrels are believed to have served a toilet area.

"The excavation is characterized by great conditions for preservation and is located on a Medieval site that has been found to contain brick houses, half-timbered houses and stables," Lauridsen said.

Described as being in "excellent condition," the human excrement can give scientists unique insight into what people ate in Denmark in the Middle Ages.

Photos: Top 10 Things Poop Makes Better

"Preliminary results of analysis show that raspberries were popular in Odense in the 1300s. The contents also contain small pieces of moss, leather and fabric which were used as toilet paper," Lauridsen said.

It appears that barrels were recycled for various use in Medieval Odense. The excavation unearthed three barrels stacked on top of one another and tied together that served as a basic well.

Poop Gets Its Close-Up

A system of pipes at the bottom of the structure led water to the well. To prevent mud from getting into the well, the lowest barrel was covered with reeds.

"This well has probably been a part of beer brewing. We have excavated nearby a stock of partially germinated barley which is commonly used in the brewing process," Lauridsen said.

Video: What's in Your Poop?

Visitors can go on a free tour of the excavation every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 pm and can visit the archaeologists' workshop every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 3:00.

"We are finding new and exciting information about the life that was lived in Odense during the 14th century," Lauridsen said.

Image: Human excrement still smelling bad has been found in these 700 year old barrel latrines. Credit: Odense City Museum.

A number of Medieval latrines -- still filled with their original contents -- have been unearthed in Denmark, according to archaeologists working in one of the largest urban archaeological excavations in Danish history.

Described as being in "excellent condition," the human excrement was found in wooden barrels originally used to transport goods and store fish. Later converted into latrines, the barrels were unearthed in the center of the medieval town of Odense, the birthplace of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. "We are talking of 700-year-old latrines. And yes, they still smell bad," Maria Elisabeth Lauridsen, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, told Discovery News.

It appears that barrels were recycled for various use in Medieval Odense. The excavation also unearthed three barrels stacked on top of one another and tied together that served as a basic well.

A system of pipes at the bottom of the structure led water to the well.

To prevent mud from getting into the well, the lowest barrel was covered with reeds.

The well was probably part of beer brewing, as some partially germinated barley excavated nearby suggests.