Archaeologists dig up Shakespeare's 'cesspit'
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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:41 AM
Archaeologists believe they are on the cusp of shedding new light on the life of William Shakespeare – by digging up what may have been the playwright’s cesspit.
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.
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 home town from London having achieved fame – including the so-called knot garden at the rear of the building.
Dr 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 artefacts, we hope to fill in the blanks.
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