Romans to the rescue
for Boston’s heritage
Boston’s heritage has come to the town’s rescue with the discovery of an important archaeological find that can also provide a much longed-for facility in the Market Place.
Recent work has uncovered the remains of a Roman lavātōrium – and amazingly, the plumbing still works … thanks to a long lost underground spring which flows through the site.
One of the first things that struck the Romans when they arrived in Boston was the fact that there were no toilet facilities.
The famous historian Bede recorded: “Ye Romanns whoe came to Bofton found the town in sorrie dyssaraie as local peaple wuld drink wyne and meed in ye streetes and pisse and doo wurse wherever theye wuld making ye towne ryte stinkee”
The custom – which is still practiced in the present day – influenced the titles of many early settlements before they became the familiar place names that they are today – such as Spillspee, Peetooborough, Firspee and Candlespee along with Pood Hole.
And some historians believe the town’s name itself derives from Botstown due to the amount of fouling in the streets
Lincolnshire historian and archaeologist Sally A. Flood told Boston Eye: “This discovery is really exciting – and it makes Boston one of the few places where we can demonstrate that the streets have been used uninterrupted as a lavatory for two millennia.
“Even better is the fact that this working Roman loo is an open air facility – because as so many people use the Market Place as a toilet anyway, hardly anyone will notice the difference.”
She said that any doubts about the purpose of the discovery were dispelled by the discovery of a carved lintel which once identified the ancient loos.
The famous writer and historian Pishey Thompson (1784-1862) who wrote “The history and antiquities of Boston, and the hundred of Skirbeck,” played a key role in maintaining the town’s traditions.
During his spell at Boston Grammar School he was several times holder of the height record in the Boston Wall Game which took place in the school lavatories each year – and the chalk mark indicating his achievement remained unwashed away by rival contenders until the wall was eventually demolished.
Not surprisingly, he was known in those days as something other than Pishey – whilst the Wall Game went on to be adopted at Eton involving just one ball.
Below is an artist’s depiction of what the original lavātōrium looked like – and we are told that it won’t be long before it is in use once again.
It’s hoped that among the first visitors to test it out will be from France – where appropriately, Boston is twinned with LAVal, and where they are more used to these sorts of things.
Worst Street is said to be delighted by the discovery – which brings the opportunity to charge a hefty admission fee instead of a meagre 20p … on the grounds that using the facility constitutes admission to an historic monument rather than an outside loo.
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