Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier
Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier

Tidsskriftet

Formålet med artiklen er at sætte fokus på forholdet til kroppen, tabu og renlighed ud fra kendskabet til vikingetids- og middelalderlatriner og at efterprøve fortærskede teorier om, at man skulle have gået rundt i sit eget skidt.

English summary

Secret houses – Latrines in Viking Age and Medieval Times

The primary object of this article is an attempt at clarifying conditions and norms connected with latrine facilities in the Viking age and Medieval period in Denmark; their appearance, placement on a house plot in relation to habitation and their daily practical usage. The article has its central focus on a juxtaposition of 40 urban latrines from Jutland – supplemented with use of pictorial and written sources, typically of a legal character. Efforts at discerning typologies and chronologies in the material are hampered by the modest number of recorded latrines in Jutland, but enough characteristics can be outlined, though, to justify the presentation of a dated typology. As regards their placement, latrines seem to have been placed in back yards away from habitation areas, neighbours and property boundaries; all as prescribed in the scanty written sources. There are exceptions, though, in latrine placements, which can be explained by the particular latrine’s function as either a public or shared latrine.

Archaeological  nds of toilet seats catering for up to a couple of people at a time, show that it was not unusual to relieve oneself in the company of others. Speci c terms such as ‘privy’ can in this light also allude to a place where private conversation could take place.

As regards personal hygiene issues related to toilet visits, latrine deposits are of great value in any study regarding norms and habits over time. Modern experiments with compost-toilets have shown that many of the components in these latrine deposits – that have often been de ned as refuse – are integral and necessary elements for an effective decomposition of a latrine’s content – or as toilet paper.