Many people have a misconception that there were no water systems available during the Medieval time period. This, however, is not entirely true. While the people of the Medieval times are not known for having the most advanced sanitary systems, they did have other systems in place to transport water. There are a few things that stand out about the water systems of this time period. You can also checkout more about early rain water systems by clicking here.
- Sewage Management- If you traveled back in time to your favorite medieval city, the first thing you would notice would probably be the stench. Because of their lack of sewer and sanitation systems, the succession of food and foul odors would undoubtedly grab your attention. Though Roman London did have a sewer system, it emptied into streams and other bodies of water. This method did efficiently move water in and out of the city.
- The Medieval time period was well known for its water mills. Diverting water was a daunting task but it was very important. Water mills were some of the first instances for powering things with water. These water mills would aid in transporting water in order to produce flours. While typical gutter systems were not quite available yet, this is an early instance of societies purposefully diverting and transporting water through systems they made. These mills could also aid in rainwater management by providing paths for excess rain water to travel.
- Unlike the quick fashions of today, where clothes are literally purchased seasonally with the intention to be worn for just one or two seasons, Medieval threads were costly. The were expensive in terms of both time and money and it was expected that you would wear them for a long time. This clothing would have only been cleaned on an as-needed basis because it was so highly treasured. Therefore, when clothing was finally washed, it was probably long overdue. This further added to the filth that crowded the water systems of these times. Often times, clothing would be taken to a career laundress who would launder their clothing, linens, and sheets. Urine was a common cleaning agent and this even further contributed to the filth of the Medieval water systems. Thankfully, laundry water and drinking water were usually unmixed. Specific water systems would transport water to the launder to keep the drinking water separate. These are some of the earliest times that we see water systems that begin to separate out drinking water from the rest of its uses.
- Another Medieval water tool was the chain pump. This was a device used for transporting water uphill. The pump was made of a long loop chain which was mounted over two wheels at the top and bottom. The looped chain would be cranked around and when this happened, the upward moving section of the chain would pass through a pipe and draw water up with it. The chain would be cranked by hand, if you were strong, or by animal. The water then flowed out of the top.