CONSERVATIONISTS at a medieval castle in North Yorkshire today revealed they had uncovered part of a toilet system that could date back to the 13th century.

English Heritage, which is carrying out maintenance work at Helmsley Castle, has uncovered a stone outlet in the foundations of the building, where sewage from two toilets would have flowed into a ditch.

John Tugwell, a spokesman for the castle, said he believed the latrines, which were in a tower, would have been part of the lord’s lodgings.

English Heritage has been working on the west range of the castle.

Mr Tugwell told how the conservationists, who have cleared away earth and foliage that has been growing for at least 200 years, had also exposed rock that part of the castle was built on.

Mr Tugwell, who described the outlet as being in good condition, said: “This has all been hidden for years.

“I’m very pleased with the work that’s been done, because it brings the castle back more to what it was in its heyday.

“It’s got rid of the rubbish. It’s got rid of a lot of the overgrown bushes that would have caused damage to it – that would have eventually undermined it.

“We can see more of how the building operated.

“The bit you can see shows this section of the castle’s definitely been built on rock.

“Whether the rest is or not I don’t know, because it’s still showing as being on top of earth embankments.” He said the outlet would have probably been created between 1227 and 1342.

The work, which began about three months ago, will continue for at least another four weeks.

During the English Civil War, the castle was besieged for three months, before its Royalist garrison was starved into submission by Parliamentarians led by Sir Thomas Fairfax, in November 1644.