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Lazy gong farmers, however, do seem to have occasionally dumped it directly into a stream or river, though the consequences for being discovered doing this in some regions were decidedly unpleasant.For example, there is record of one gong farmer who improperly disposed of some waste being made to stand immersed in fecal matter up to his neck and then, dripping with said waste, was further forced to stand on public display for a time as punishment.To begin with, particularly in the age when one-story buildings were the norm, tossing your own stink out the window meant you’d have to smell it any time you chose to open said window- not a recipe for a good time in the summer, particularly, but also just a recipe for a crappy time whenever you chose to step out your door…There your poop would be, staring you in the face, perhaps kept company by your neighbors’ latest expulsion.Thus, with the ever-present threat of mob justice and harsh fines, sticking your butt out of a window and squeezing out a stink-bomb onto the masses below, as freeing as it might have felt, just wasn’t worth it, particularly when Britons had better (at least in terms of the “out of sight, out of mind” factor) means of waste disposal at their, well, disposal.
However, as the population swelled to massive numbers in certain cities, like London, the number of these facilities just couldn’t keep up with demand.
As we move beyond the Middle Ages, with sewage infrastructure and technology progressing slightly, the people of British cities still nevertheless continued to commonly dump their chamber pots into rivers.
Compounding the problem was that cesspits would occasionally overflow into the streets, with said waste often just ending up in nearby rivers and streams anyway because of it…
They also infrequently found valuables amongst the waste that they were free to keep, though it’s noted that they also occasionally found skeletons from murder victims and unwanted babies. (As an example of how big some of these pits could be, there is record of it taking 13 men five full nights to empty out a privy at Newgate Gaol in 1281.) We also know that because some privies designed with the gongs directly beneath were not emptied frequently enough, the floorboards above could become saturated.
As a result, the boards sometimes collapsed, occasionally resulting in deaths via drowning in waste.