A “high status” medieval building has been discovered under public toilets in Cardiff.

A "high status" medieval building has been discovered under public toilets in Cardiff.

A “high status” medieval building has been discovered under public toilets in Cardiff.

Under a derelict public restroom, an archaeological dig in Wales, United Kingdom, has made an amazing find. The site of a large and significant medieval building was discovered. Clearly, the discovery is important, but the building’s nature and original use is a mystery and is disconcerting to researchers.

The building’s walls were found to be 1m (3.3ft) thick and standing 2m high

The find was found in Cardiff, Wales, in Llandaff. The building was discovered during an excavation led by Cardiff University’s Professor Tim Young. The Daily Mail states that it was made “during an archaeological dig involving 35 volunteers and more than 200 school children.”

The site is adjacent to the ruins of Bishop’s Castle dating back to the Middle Ages. It was once the home of the Bishop of Cardiff and is near to the historic Llandaff Cathedral.

Young told Wales Online: “the site is known as the Pound because it was the animal pound for Llandaf and we have proofs that it was built in 1607.” The findings were taken in a toilet constructed in the 1930s.

The medieval building was discovered next to the Bishop’s Palace.

The structure’s disarray was a complete surprise because no medieval map of Cardiff suggested it. It is a very large building, 10 meters long and possibly demolished after the Reformation. It is a large building.

Medieval map of the area where the medieval building was found.

The BBC reports that archaeologists have said: “the medieval building dates back to about 1450”. This was just before the start of the Wars of the Roses. It was once a two-story building but now only the ground floor remains and it was found in a relatively complete state.

A large number of artefacts were found including an almost 600-year-old fireplace, some earthenware floor tiles, animal bones, and a number of horseshoes. Perhaps the most striking artefact found was an engraved jetson coin, that was made in France, which was “used on abacus-like counting boards and as tokens in games” according to the Daily Mail.

French jetson, an accounting coin, was found hidden in the fireplace of the medieval building.

The dimensions of the dwelling and the nature of the materials found indicate that it was probably inhabited by a prominent member of the medieval Cardiff community. The fireplace was made of Bath Stone and this was very expensive and prestigious at the time.

Young told the Daily Mail that “the stone was not commonly used at the time, although it can be found at Llandaff Cathedral”. Only those with wealth could have afforded such a fireplace.

Despite the finds, the house is something of a mystery. No evidence has been found to indicate the identity of those who resided in the building. There are a number of theories regarding those who once inhabited what once may have been one of the most impressive buildings in Late Medieval Cardiff.

The Herald Planet reports that “experts believe that the building may have once been the home of an important resident of Cardiff – perhaps for an official at the neighbouring Llandaff Cathedral”. It has also been speculated that because it was located adjacent to the old Bishop’s Palace that the person served the bishop in some way.

This image shows the walls of the medieval building, with the toilets to the right and the Bishop’s Castle gatehouse beyond.

In medieval Cardiff the “bishops at that time held manorial rights”, the Daily Mail quotes Dr Young. This meant that the prelate had feudal and legal rights over the area in Cardiff and would have ruled it largely independent of the civic authorities. The mysterious house may have been the residence of one of his officials.

Further investigations are going to be undertaken to identify who inhabited the house, then the location will be covered up.

The BBC reports that it will “make way for the construction of a new community venue set up by Llandaff 50+, a charity promoting social inclusion among the over 50s in the local community”. The discovery has helped researchers to better understand the topography of medieval Cardiff and also the structure of urban society in the 1400s.

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