Friday, June 22, 2007

Heroic Viking Turd

Sorry for the unannounced blogging interruption. I was on the road, and didn't even get a chance to check e-mail the last couple of days.

While on the road, though, I ran across a story that demonstrates how tough Vikings were. According to news reports, the Lloyd's Bank turd, a 1200-year-old fossilized Viking excrement, was accidentally broken into three pieces and had to be repaired.

For those of you who are sensible and use English units, let me do a conversion for you. According to these reports, the famous feces is 20 cm. by 5 cm. That's approximately 8 inches by 2 inches. That's AFTER a millennium of shrinkage. The Guardian, demonstrating mindless reporting, contains this idiotic sentence: "The Viking who lay it down probably gave his faeces little thought..."

Um, Mr. Jeffery, let me ask you this -- if you lay down faeces of that size, would you give it little thought? I'm sure the Viking's mind was very, very focused as he accomplished this prodigious task. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that his colleagues had to carry him back to the boat afterwards.

One of the regular Wordhoarders happens to be an expert on human waste management (no, I'm not joking). I wonder if he, or anyone else, could give us a rough estimate of the original size of the Viking trophy in question?

Now that I have completely lost all dignity by discussing this issue here, I would like to call on all Wordhoarders to begin saving and labelling your evacuations for future generations to display in museums. You may either send the artifacts to your favorite museum, or to the York Archaeological Resource Centre, which already has a nice anchor for their collection.


  1. If we send them along to you, would you mind collecting and forwarding? Think of it as service to the profession.

  2. I already have quite an extensive archive of artifacts that I've culled out of research papers and administrative memoranda throughout the years -- I couldn't possibly handle more. Perhaps we could write a grant, though, to get a couple of graduate students with shovels to manage the archive.

  3. Hmmm... And just today, I was talking about Milton's "excrementall whitenesse."

    Talk about coincidence.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  4. Anonymous12:08 AM

    It appears I have been called out.

    First, I have to point out an error, Dr. Nokes. Five centimeters would only translate to roughly one and a quarter inches for diameter.

    Unfortunately, I do not know how much a dehydrated dropping, viking or otherwise, would shrink to over time. I could only use an educated guess of maybe ten percent loss? That number could be way off. (Most material I see has been broken into liquid form before it reaches the treatment facility.)

    Over that much time, the bacteria from the digestive track should be long dead.

    I apologize if this has been less than helpful.

  5. Are you sure about the poop conversion? I ran it through a unit converter and it came up 1.968504 inches.

    By the way, I could not find any medieval poop available on Ebay, though they do have dinosaur poop for sale. No, I'm not kidding.

  6. I have to say I absolutely loved this piece.

    And I goggled the news related to this on learning a new word coprolite.