Archived news release from 30 October 2003Ancient condoms leave Dudley for Dutch exhibition
Five of the oldest condoms in the world are leaving Dudley later this week to go on show at an exhibition in the Netherlands.
The condoms, made of animal and fish intestine, were excavated from a medieval toilet in Dudley Castle in 1985. It’s believed they date back to the mid 17th century and were probably dropped into the toilet in the great tower sometime prior to 1646, when the castle was surrendered to the Parliamentarians.
The borough has been asked to loan the condoms to Drents museum in the northern province of Drenthe, who are staging the exhibition '100,000 years of sex'. Because they are so fragile Dr Vincent Vilsteren, keeper of archaeology at the museum, is making a special visit to the U.K. to collect them.
Adrian Durkin, exhibitions officer at Dudley Council, said:
"It is very rare for such items to survive so well. Indeed the next oldest condoms in the world are over 100 years younger and will also be on display in the exhibition. The only reason the castle condoms survived is because for hundreds of years they lay in a damp and airless environment and the bacteria was unable to thrive.
"It’s thought the condoms were used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases rather than contraception."
Councillor Charles Fraser Macnamara, Lead Member for Culture and Leisure, added:
"This exhibition certainly has the opportunity to put Dudley on the map! The borough is most famous for its wonderful glass heritage and more recently for being the epicentre of last year’s earthquake. It’s good to know that the earth has moved for many generations in the borough and that we can share our knowledge with the rest of the world!"
Release Date: 30 October 2003
Directorate: Urban Environment
Contact: Jan Jennings, Marketing and Communications Officer
Phone: 01384 815219
Address: Directorate of the Urban Environment, 3 St. James's Road, Dudley, West Midlands. DY1 1HZ