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Holy stinky barrels of Medieval Danish shit!

Doing a big urban archeological dig in Copenhagen, when they turned up these priceless artifacts. Yes, those are huge barrels of 14th Century human shit. And yes, apparently they do still stink.

Before they were used as latrines, they were used for storing other things, so archeologists hope to learn a lot from those barrels. Some very unlucky undergraduate is going to have a memorable job prepping them for inspection, I tell you what.

We went to a lecture the other night on the vanishing trades of Kent and Sussex (segue: barrel making). Most of them involve wood. This is the woodiest part of England and trees have been grown very much as a renewable resource here for millenia. Harvested, mostly, by pollarding and coppicing.

The problem with wooden wheel making, basket weaving, barrel making and the like — they’re hard to master, incredibly physical, and nobody in his right mind would pay a living wage to a smart guy for hand weaving a freaking basket. So a lot of that is inevitably going to be lost.

Which is a pity. Fun fact: a tree that is pollarded once and then left to go natural will live another hundred years, or two. A tree that is continually pollarded at regular intervals is effectively immortal. There are trees in this county that have been perpetually harvested that are reckoned to be several thousand old. Think on that.

Right! Tomorrow, 6pm WBT, Dead Pool Round 61. Fred Phelps didn’t make it to the next round. His last act on earth was to deprive poor StPatrick_TN of a dick. Asshole ’til the end.


Comment from Nina
Time: March 20, 2014, 11:09 pm

I dunno, the guy who chose the death of that dick deserves a dick, in gratitude for a job well-done!

The other two parts of your post were interesting, though. 🙂

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 20, 2014, 11:40 pm

I second Nina’s idea that StPatrick_TN – the chooser that dick Phelps – should get some kind of honorary or commemorative award. I’ll even go so far as to promise to forego any prize I might win in the future so as to make this possible.

As for the 500-year-old crap barrels, I appreciate the story, but am otherwise speechless.

Comment from Janna
Time: March 21, 2014, 12:31 am

Was the pollarding and coppicing link to the same article as the first link?

Comment from bds
Time: March 21, 2014, 12:37 am

Yeah, the second link just went to the article for me too. This works somewhat though: http://bit.ly/OFXNYZ

Comment from dissent555
Time: March 21, 2014, 12:59 am

Then there was this –


Comment from EZnSF
Time: March 21, 2014, 1:09 am

Honey buckets, not mead?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 21, 2014, 11:22 am

Link fixed. I’m impressed. I always assume nobody clicka de links anyway.

It just goes to the Wikipedia article on pollarding. I try my best to dig up sources other than Wikipedia, but — gosh darn it — they almost always have the best succinct explanation of whatever I’m trying to describe.

Comment from Deborah
Time: March 21, 2014, 12:14 pm

I always follow your links, Stoaty. The article about pollarding and coppicing was fascinating. I’d read the word “coppice” before, but never looked it up. I just assumed from the context that it was an old word for a stand of trees. I didn’t know that pruning—pollarding—was so important. I thought it was just to force ornamental trees to produce more flowers (or make fruit trees more productive) but didn’t know it would extend the life of a tree, too. I’ve always detested what landscapers do to crepe myrtles, not considering that it was done to keep the trees smaller, too, in addition to forcing blooms.

And the Copenhagen Post. A Danish newspaper in English! I’m adding it to my newspaper bookmarks 🙂

Comment from thefritz
Time: March 21, 2014, 12:43 pm

Speaking of crap, I’ll be on a plane at 6pm WBT and will not be able to prove I need to get a life by fighting to be first in with my pick…rock on!

Comment from Mojo
Time: March 21, 2014, 4:16 pm

Isn’t WBT the same as GMT? “Zulu” time.

Although why the prime meridian isn’t in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I couldn’t tell ya. Brit arrogance, I assume.

What’s the use of Mercator’s
North poles and equators
Tropic zones and meridian lines?
So the Bellman would cry
And the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!”

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: March 21, 2014, 5:21 pm

Weapon making went the same route, which is why a lot of people thought European weapons and combat was crappy and a lot of banging on each other with poorly made trash. Research has proved that when armor and swords were the primary way of fighting (before guns), Europeans were at least the equal in crafting steel and combat skill of any Japanese Samurai.

The skills fell out of favor and weren’t used any more, so they were forgotten.

Comment from BJM
Time: March 21, 2014, 6:12 pm

@mojo…I dunno about Brit arrogance, but the French, assholes to the core, abstained in the 1884 Meridian Conference and continued to use the Paris Meridian (Dan Brown’s infamous Rose Line) until 1911.


Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: March 21, 2014, 7:39 pm

Mojo, I think it was more a practical result of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich having been used by British sea-farers as a standard, and that standard having been used by other mariners, so that by the time there was an international conference to determine it (as BJM points out), only France wasn’t willing to agree on its use (thank you, Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Meridian_Conference)

“Other maps are such shapes,
With their islands and capes,
But we have our brave Captain to thank,”
So the crew would protest,
“That he’s bought us the best:
A perfect and absolute blank.”
From memory, so some words may be off, and the punctuation is almost undoubtedly so.
Nice to know another who enjoys Snark.

Comment from Mojo
Time: March 22, 2014, 6:41 am

He had only one notion for crossing the ocean
And that was to tingle his bell

Beware of Boojums

Comment from As If I Cared (now with caps!)
Time: March 23, 2014, 10:30 am

The missus and I attend a weekly auction in SE PA. For the past four weeks there has been a glut of old woodworking tools, particularly planes, offered at auction. That, and broken and ill-cared-for firearms and parts thereof.

Either one person was an eclectic hoarder of the highest order or a methodical stalker is killing woodworkers in SE PA.

Comment from mojo
Time: March 25, 2014, 4:33 am

Grab all the planes you can, especially fillet planes and moulding planes! Priceless to a cabinet maker.

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