‘Privies and Other Filthiness…’ The Environment of Late Medieval Aberdeen c.1399-1650


 ‘Privies and Other Filthiness…’ The Environment of Late Medieval Aberdeen c.1399-1650

By Chris Croly

Published by Aberdeen City Council

Skyline of Aberdeen, Scotland = photo by Badabee

Introduction: This talk will look at aspects of public hygiene in medieval Aberdeen with specific focus on the streets.

It was the role of the Council of the Royal Burgh then, as it is now, to deal with dirty streets. Council statutes dealing with street cleaning and maintenance begin in the mid-fifteenth century and this seems to be the same case across Scotland. To a limited extent, I will compare and contrast Aberdeen to other Scottish burghs and European cities generally looking at why they sought to clean their streets.

I want to deal with two issues; firstly who and what produced waste and secondly how that waste was dealt with. ‘While urban environmental pollution is mainly industrial today, it was organic in the late Middle Ages.’ Principally, manure from all the beasts and offal from those slaughtered by the fleshers.

There were a large number of animals in medieval Aberdeen. Most households and families would have had sheep, chickens and possibly cows whilst it was incumbent upon all burgesses to have a horse. In terms of archaeological remains, large amounts of animal bones have been recovered from various digs throughout the city. The sheer number of animal bones is in one sense testimony to the extent of the problem.

Click here to read this article from Aberdeen City Council

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.

 

Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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