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Shakespeare Connected - ‘The natural gates and alleys of the body’ (Hamlet, 1.5.67): Physicality, Hygiene and Bodily Waste in Shakespeare’s World

Anglo-Saxon Toiletry Sets

Around 600 or 700 years before the birth of Shakespeare, these tiny bronze tools for sprucing up were interred with Anglo-Saxon corpses at Alveston Manor. They may be pins, tooth-picks, nail picks or ear scoops but their resemblance to their Elizabethan and even present-day versions demonstrates the degree to which bodily maintenance has always necessitated similar kinds of personal grooming. As King Lear puts it, ‘the body’s delicate’ (3.4.12).


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Another example of an Anglo-Saxon toiletry set.

SBT 2000-72/215.1- 3


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