I will never accomplish anything this great


Julius Caesar is said to have wept at the tomb of Alexander the Great — “Do you think I have not just cause to weep, when I consider that Alexander at my age had conquered so many nations, and I have all this time done nothing that is memorable?,” he said. Well, now I have learned of the Lloyd’s Bank Turd, and I am disconsolate. 1200 years ago, Vikings had conquered the city of York in England, held it for a century, and left behind a clutter of buried debris, including old cesspits. In one of them, archaeologists excavated an amazing relic: a single massive bowel movement, left behind by some heroic citizen who passed it alone into a hole in the ground, where it rested in solitary glory and was somehow preserved for posterity.

So what do we know about the anonymous Viking who made the most famous deposit that Lloyds Bank is ever likely to see? His or her diet consisted largely of meat and grains, but not much in the way of fruits or vegetables, which may help explain why the sample is nine inches long and weighs half a pound. “Whoever passed it probably hadn’t ‘performed’ for a few days,” says student conservator Gill Snape. Considering the large number of fruit pits and vegetable seeds found at the site but not in this particular Viking’s stool, this was likely not the healthiest or the most regular person in the village.

Like a lot of Vikings, this one suffered from at least two types of intestinal parasites: The remains of hundreds of whipworm and maw-worm eggs were found in the stool. The presence of worms in the stool is indicative of the filthy conditions and poor hygiene in Viking settlements. Wells were dug too close to latrines, making the availability of clean, uncontaminated water a hit-or-miss (usually miss) proposition. The dirt floors of the Viking dwellings teemed with fly larvae (maggots) and mouse and rat droppings, with plenty of dog, pig, cow, and horse droppings just outside the door. It was virtually inevitable that residents of such settlements would be infested with intestinal parasites.

Not only do I fail to produce such impressive output in the first place, what I do excrete gets swirled around in a watery sewer system, demolished in a frothy slurry at a sewage treatment plant, and encouraged to degrade. What legacy will I leave to my descendants? I’m tempted to start digging many holes in my backyard and create a bank of excrement. I hope the neighbors don’t mind.

Oh, wait! I have a blog! Perhaps some fragment of it will survive the inevitable bit rot, get archived somewhere somewhat permanent, and someday get enshrined in a museum somewhere, for the enlightened people of the future to grimace over.

One can hope.


  1. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    I wonder how one says, “Owwww! Ahhhhh. . . ” in Norwegian?

    Oh, wait, I can find out.

    Goes to Google Translate.

    Apparently it is still “Owwww! Ahhhhh. . . ”

    . . . and someday get enshrined in a museum somewhere, for the enlightened people of the future to grimace over.

    True. But the surviving fragment will probably be Louis sending an idiot with delusions of telekinesis to a Nobel laureate with instructions on how to make a tin-foil hat. Or Rajkumar flailing to understand what peer review actually is. What we want to be remember for is rarely what gets preserved. Which is one of the things that makes studying history so much fun.

  2. Scott Simmons says

    Or, you could go back to plan A and just leave an actual turd rather than virtual ones. Really, that would be fine.

    (I kid! Please keep posting your virtual turds!)

  3. madtom1999 says

    I’d guess that was laid early in the year before any crops had peeped above the snow and there was only pemmican and grain left to eat. Any pollen in it?
    Mind you the damage Lloyds and the banking industry in general are causing may well be felt for longer than 1400 years.

  4. garnetstar says

    When it comes to weeping before those who accomplished more tha you, I think the best version is Tom Lehrer’s. Speaking of his musical achievements, Lehrer said “When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.”

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Interesting that a huuuge piece of shite has lasted 1400 yrs to become enshrined as an historic legacy for all to marvel(tm) at.
    Any local usanian come to mind as trying to achieve such an end? (hint: he’s got orange “hair” [sic]).

  6. congenital cynic says

    I have known about this turd for 25 years now. I learned of it in one of the funniest pieces of radio I ever heard. CBC host Vickie Gabereau interviewed an English paleoscatologist about this turd on her radio show back in 1991. He was so serious and so deadpan, but the stuff coming out of his mouth was hilarious. Gabereau was having fits of laughter and having a difficult time keeping it together and I was laughing so hard I almost drove the car off the road. I see that some others have been looking on line to see if there is an archived version available for listening, but it seems not. Pity. It was so damned funny.

  7. congenital cynic says

    I think I almost put the car in the ditch at the point in the interview when he said something along this line (the last bit is verbatim) “You look at the lovely arc of that pinched off point on the end and you can almost feel the anal sphincters working.”

  8. sirbedevere says

    What I like best is that the student conservator commenting on this is named “Snape”.

  9. bcwebb says

    Vegetables only pass through this blog after a big meal of creationism or spiritual healing articles; fruits I won’t comment on; but I do think this blog is sometimes turgid enough to last through the centuries if not com-posted.

  10. Gregory Greenwood says

    I’m with slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) @ 6 – if one accepts figurative, intellectual excrement in place of it’s literal equivalent, then the sheer volume and… err… repugnant ‘quality’ produced by one Donald Trump is surely much more impressive…

    If you find such things impressive for some reason.

    Indeed, pretty much any member of the Republican lineup is truly world class in this regard (even if in no other).

  11. cartomancer says

    Sorry to be pedantic, but Julius Caesar’s famous (alleged) comment about Alexander wasn’t uttered over the tomb of the great Macedonian. It was uttered while Caesar was a quaestor in 69 BC (aged 31), serving in Gadez (modern Cadiz) in Spain. According to Plutarch it was inspired by reading a history of Alexander’s conquests, according to Suetonius by catching sight of a statue of Alexander. Alexander’s actual tomb was in Alexandria in Egypt, which Caesar only visited much later during his entanglement with Cleopatra (in his fifties).

    Though one viking turd is nothing – in Herculaneum they’ve got whole sewers full of fossilized Roman crap. Which seems to be full of sharp little sea-urchin spines, cringe-inducingly enough…

  12. Rich Woods says

    @madtom1994 #4:

    and there was only pemmican and grain left to eat

    As best as I recall pemmican is mainly made from dried buffalo meat, so it’s highly unlikely to have been found in the UK any time after the last ice age. But we could have a stab at red deer and the neighbours’ foxes if that would help.

  13. says

    I saw a similar “artifact” when I visited the Viking Museum in York some years ago. Not quite of the same proportions, but pretty close. They actually had it in the hands-on section of the museum, so you could handle it if you wanted too (under supervision).

  14. Richard Smith says

    At least it’s reassuring to know that they won’t put just any old crap in the museum.

  15. procyon says

    “The Lloyds Bank Turd was chemically analyzed to create a “fecal odorgram”—a best-guess estimate of what it smelled like when it was first created 1,000 years ago, and that smell has been artificially reproduced to give the latrine display a level of olfactory authenticity unheard of—and unsmelt of—in other museums.”

    These are, indeed, some dedicated scatologists. I’m sure it smells like shit.

  16. PatrickG says


    Apparently it is still “Owwww! Ahhhhh. . . ”

    Constipation: The one truly universal language.

  17. brett says

    That’s something I worry about, actually. The nature of digital storage is that it will take a decision to migrate stuff to newer databases, and a lot of information might simply be lost if no one at the time determines it valuable enough to move to new storage. We might be looking back from the Year 2300 with vast amounts of statistical data and databases full of research work, but with large sections of time mostly missing first-person accounts of daily life and behavior.

  18. Crimbly says

    I thought you were talking about a turd laid by someone working in Lloyds Bank (a banking firm in the UK), and actually thought “has it come to analyzing the passings of bankers now?”