One study found that medieval brothers living in Cambridge were “infested with parasites” because of problematic gardening practices.
Although living at the Augustinian synagogue was considered good – where missionaries would travel from far and wide to read manuscripts – they had a minor problem with intestinal worms.
According to a study from the University of Cambridge.
While their monastic homes have rows of latrines and hand-washing facilities, unlike the homes of ordinary workers, the researchers revealed that the monks partly fertilized the garden with manure. their own – and buy fertilizers containing human or pig manure.
The Augustinian Monastery was founded in the 1280s and lasted until 1538 before suffering the fate of most monasteries in England: closed or demolished as part of King Henry VIII’s farewell with Rome.
Lead author of the study, Dr Piers Mitchell, said: “The medieval Cambridge brothers appear to have been infected with parasites.
“This is the first time anyone has tried to understand how common the parasite was among people of different lifestyles in the same medieval town.”
The researchers attribute the difference in infection rates between the brothers and the general population to the way each group treats human waste.
“One possibility is that the brothers feed their vegetable gardens with human excrement,” said Dr. Mitchell.
Despite the increasing prevalence of worms, people buried in medieval English monasteries still live longer than those in parish cemeteries, according to previous research, according to previous research. perhaps due to the more nutritious diet, the luxuries of wealth.