Top picks of the week: Toilet Twinning

The Roman fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland is helping flush away poverty by twinning its ancient loos


We were thrilled to hear that Vindolanda is taking part in the scheme Toilet Twinning. By ‘twinning’ its Ancient Roman toilets with loos around the world, it hopes to raise money to provide better sanitation to areas suffering from dirty water and disease.


Visitors to the site can learn about Roman hygiene, particularly ‘spongia’ – using a sponge on a stick to wipe yourself! What the scheme hopes to highlight is that even on a fort on the edge of the Empire, a Roman could expect a well-built, clean toilet while, centuries later, millions of people still do not have access to safe facilities.

Toilet Twinning at Vindolanda is in partnership with development agencies Cord and Tearfund. Find out more about the scheme here.

This coming week

Historian Simon Andrew Stirling – author of Who Killed William Shakespeare? The Murderer, the Motive, the Means – is giving a talk at Goldsmiths, University of London on Thursday, 20 March.

The Faces of Shakespeare: Revealing Shakespeare’s Life and Death Through Portraits and Other Objects explores how many of the images we have of the Bard share the same distinguishing features, even though they were produced after his death. Stirling asks if these features provide evidence for how Shakespeare died and give clues to whether he was assassinated.  

The talk begins at 6.30pm, entry is free.

There is also an opportunity to see the earliest known portrait of the Duke of Wellington next week, although it is only two-and-a-half inches high.

Love and War: The Story of the Military Portrait Miniature at the BADA Antiques and Fine Art Fair features the first public showing of the Duke’s portrait. Produced when he was only 18, c1787, it was long before he became the ‘Iron Duke’ and military leader in the Napoleonic Wars.

Portrait miniatures were hugely popular from the 16th century; they could travel long distances as a form of introduction or be carried by soldiers as a keepsake of a loved one.


Love and War runs between 19 and 25 March at Duke of York Square, London.