Lloyd's Bank Turd from York © YAT

Contributed by Jorvik Viking Centre in York

Lloyd's Bank Turd from York © YAT

In 1972 York Archaeological Trust discovered a human stool (fæces), which dated from Viking-Age York. A very rare find - a complete human stool. Examination under the microscope shows it contains pollen grains and the remains of cereal bran.
Cesspit contents can tell us about the foods the Vikings ate, but also about the environment around them. The Viking-age diet was varied and highly seasonal, with bread as an important component. The downside is that there were almost certainly periods of famine. Food and water quality was also variable.
The fæces also contains the eggs of Whipworm (Trichuris) and Maw-worm (Ascaris) - parasitic nematodes which live in the large intestine. Staggeringly an average inhabitant of Jorvik may have harboured between 600 and 2,500 whipworms! Worms cause stomach aches, diarrhoea and inflammation of the bowel. When the worms are numerous, symptoms may simulate those of gastric and duodenal ulcers. Horribly, adult worms can migrate from the intestine and enter other organs where they can cause serious damage, even moving into such places as the ear and the nose of unfortunate suffers.
This object is on display at JORVIK Viking Centre.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 12:49 on 17 August 2010, Bone wrote:

    No other complete human coprolite has been excavated in York despite 35+ years of searching. As far as we know, none have been found elsewhere in UK, though plenty of dog droppings are recovered. Human copprolites from USA are preserved by desiccation in sry caves.

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