World's oldest condoms set to leave UK



The world's oldest condoms are to leave the UK for the first time later this week to go on show at a s_x exhibition in the Netherlands.

The five contraceptives, which were excavated from a medieval toilet in Dudley Castle in 1985, are believed to date back to the mid 17th century.

A spokesman for Dudley Council, which has care of the rare items, said they would be on show in Holland from November 11 to February 8 next year.

The West Midlands borough has been asked to loan the condoms to Drents museum in the northern province of Drenthe, which is staging an exhibition entitled 100,000 Years of s_x.

Because they are so fragile, Dr Vincent Vilsteren, keeper of archaeology at the museum, is making a special visit to the UK this weekend 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."

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."

The sheaths, made of animal and fish intestine, were probably dropped into the toilet in the great tower sometime prior to 1646, when the castle was surrendered to the Parliamentarians.