UK Archaeologists dig through Shakespeare's 'cesspit'

14:10, April 07, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The dig focuses on three areas of the property, which Shakespeare bought in 1597 Photo/Agencies

The UK publication the Telegraph reported on April 6 that, in order to unveil something new about William Shakespeare's life, British archaeologists have started digging up what may have been the playwright's cesspit.

The report says experts have begun excavating the ruins of New Place, Shakespeare's former home in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was demolished 250 years ago. Although little remains of the property, the team, led by Birmingham Archaeology, believes it has identified a rubbish tip, or cesspit, used by the 16th century poet.

The article goes on to mention that fragments of pottery and broken clay pipe have already been retrieved from a muddy hole on the site, which they claim could yield some of the most significant discoveries about Shakespeare in decades.

The dig focuses on three areas of the property, which Shakespeare bought in 1597 when he returned to his hometown from London after achieving fame. They include the so-called knot garden at the rear of the building.

Diana Owen, Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which owns the site, said: “We do not know if the knot garden was an area used by Shakespeare. It may have been a yard simply used by his servants.

"But this could actually yield some fantastic results. Especially if it was an area where rubbish was thrown or the cesspit was located."

Kevin Colls, from Birmingham Archaeology, added: "Through documentary evidence we know Shakespeare lived at New Place, but we have very little information regarding the layout of the house and gardens at this time."

"Through archaeological fieldwork, in particular the excavation of structural remains and the recovery of artifacts, we hope to fill in the blanks," Colls said. "Even the smallest shard of broken pottery has the potential for giving us tantalizing glimpses into the life of Shakespeare, such as what he liked to eat and drink."

Until October, visitors will be able to watch archaeologists and volunteers at work as they excavate the remains of the house, which was knocked down in 1759.

Experts hope to unearth evidence to support theories that Shakespeare wrote many of his most famous works at the property.

By People's Daily Online/Agencies


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • On Sept. 26, a resident passes by a flower terrace decorated for the coming National Day. (Xinhua/Hang Xingwei)
  • The photo, taken on Sept. 26, shows the SWAT team ready for the joint exercise. (Xinhua/Wangkai)
  • Two metro trains in Shanghai collided Tuesday afternoon, and an identified number of passengers were injured in the accident, the Shanghai-based reported. Equipment failures were believed to have caused the crash on the Line 10 subway, Xinhua quoted local subway operator as saying.
  • An employee at a gold store in Yiwu, located in east China's Zhejiang province, shows gold jewelry on Monday.(Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)
  • Tourists ride camels near China's largest desert lake Hongjiannao in Yulin, north China's Shaanx Province, Sept. 24, 2011. Hongjiannao is shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades. Its lake area, which measured more than 6,700 hectares in 1996, has shrunk to 4,180 hectares. Its water level is declining by 20-30 centimeters annually and its water PH value has risen to 9.0-9.42 from 7.4-7.8. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
  • Actors perform royal dance at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Sept. 27, 2011. A ceremony commemorating the 38th South Korea Sightseeing Day was held in Gyeongbok Palace on Tuesday. (Xinhua/He Lulu)
Hot Forum Discussion