Vindolanda's Roman toilet seat inspires manufacturer to make new Thunderbox loo seat

By Ben Miller | 09 October 2014

A limited edition luxury toilet seat will support archaeological investigations near Hadrian's Wall

A photo of a large brown archaeological trench with a measuring stick within its earth
The 2,000-year-old toilet seat, found at the former Vindolanda fort to the south of Hadrian's Wall© Vindolanda Trust
An impressed toilet seat manufacturer has pledged a cash sum towards the care of a wooden toilet seat found along Hadrian’s Wall, saying the ancient craftsmanship of the Romans persuaded them to donate.

Tosca and Willoughby will create a special edition version of their popular Thunderbox seat and gift some of the proceeds to the Vindolanda Trust whose discovery has sparked attention across the world.

“We are absolutely fascinated by the discovery of a perfectly-preserved ancient loo seat,” said James Williams, the Director of the company whose money will maintain the chemical conservation of the artefact.

“As our own seats are handcrafted, we admire the Roman craftsmanship which, in this case, has certainly stood the test of time.

“We realise our donation is a drop in the ocean when you consider the overall cost of excavation and the preservation of these fascinating artefacts.

“But we hope our continued pledges will help even in a small way towards the work of the Trust.”

Williams contacted the Trust after learning its important historical work relies on visitor donations.

“The approach came completely out of the blue,” said Sonya Galloway, of the group.

“The seat itself is still sealed in a chemical bath where it will stay until next summer.

“The importance of this artefact means we will be designing a special display in connection with the artefact. This will hopefully be open in the autumn next year.

“The story also has been picked up in America, India, across Europe and Australia, which is just great.

“In the meantime, other artefacts from this super-successful year at Vindolanda will be going on display in our recent finds exhibition space in early November.”

The luxury Thunderbox seat is expected to be launched to coincide with the display.

Five great toilet exhibits

Sand, Sit or Squat at Gladstone Pottery Museum

Giant pink toilet rolls, elaborately-decorated cisterns and a throne imported from Japan are among the highlights, not to mention the Thomas Crapper seat. "It's got a lot of books about poo in it,"  Nerys Williams, of the former Victorian factory in Stoke-on-Trent, remarked on the display.

The Chapman Brothers' toilet rolls

While most might settle for softly unremarkable toilet paper, Hastings' most infamous artists offered these skull-imprinted rolls as rewards to backers of a campaign to fund a forthcoming exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery. It worked: the show will open to the public on October 25.

Sarah Lucas having a smoke

Few introductions to an exhibition could make as much of a splash as the portrait of Lucas sitting on a toilet, cigarette in hand. The work is held as a c-type print by Tate.

The garderobe at Oxburgh Hall

Held at a 15th century moated manor house in Norfolk, this toilet - once visited by Henry VII, in 1487 - is one of the National Trust's oldest khazis. Coining the phrase "plucking a rose", Tudors would relieve themselves in chimneys, room corners and on streets before Queen Elizabeth I raised the standard with the first flushing toilet, invented by John Harrington and built into her palace.

Meekyoung Shin's dissolving soap statuettes

After receiving complaints, the Korean Cultural Centre had to remove a statue of Buddha from the toilets of FACT in Liverpool. But artist Shin's cleansing sculptures still toured to gallery bathrooms from Bournemouth to Edinburgh.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More from Culture24's Archaeology section:

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Iron Age Roman helmet used as container for cremation burial goes on display in Kent

Metal detectorist found guilty of Roman coin theft in Norfolk "nighthawking" incident
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