Filthy Cities: Medieval London

The city of London is over 2000 years old with layers of rich history. Hidden away in the past, however, is a secret; The London you know today is in fact built upon the huge amount of disease and filth of the 14th century. Historian Dan Snow walks us through a very realistic reimagination of London as it was 700 years ago. 14th century London was seething with animals and grime. The population had gone up nearly 500% in the past two centuries, creating a city full of people and animals to the point of bursting. There was only one lane for traffic, shop fronts opened onto the road and as many animals as people littered the streets. Worse than this, though, is what layered the streets beneath their feet.
Foreigners came to live in London due to it’s reputation as being a great trade center and for a freer life. Also, the streets were said to be paved with gold; this was certainly not the case. Instead of gold, the streets were layered with muddy earth, animal dung and entrails, rotting fish, beer, urine and human excrement filled with disease and bacteria. Special shoes were even invented to lift you up above the muck. History can still be read in some of the street names such as Seething lane, Gutter lane. and Staining lane. Snow goes through old documents and reenacts how life would have been in filthy medieval London, giving you an honest look at life in the 14th century.

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  • Bs

    It is a shame that they haven’t mentioned the Great Fire of London in 1666 which “cleaned” the city from the bubonic plague…

  • Anya

    So, basically he killed and butchered a pig just for the sake of a show off? How f*cked up is that?? He could have used a 3D simulation in our oh-so-modern century. Sick bastard.

  • Yosemite Sam

    Medieval London should have called a plumbing service.