Just a fun fact!
To celebrate National Trivia Day and remind us that Harry Potter is getting close to rivalling Star Wars as a franchise so deeply fascinated by gazing into its own canonical navel, the official Pottermore Twitter account decided to #jointheconversation and drop this dookie:
Hogwarts didn't always have bathrooms. Before adopting Muggle plumbing methods in the eighteenth century, witches and wizards simply relieved themselves wherever they stood, and vanished the evidence. #NationalTriviaDay
— Pottermore (@pottermore) 4 January 2019
Delightful. If your head isn’t now just full of imagery of dumbass wizards walking around defecating themselves, well...congratulations, you’re better people than we are.
The information itself has actually been known to Potterheads for a while, because of course it has—since 2015, in fact. It’s culled from the Pottermore section about Hogwarts’ Chamber of Secrets, because apparently, when people who literally cast magic for a living decided to go “Hey, we should try that plumbing thing the Muggles have got instead of shitting everywhere,” the construction work to outfit the school with piping almost uncovered the mythical chamber. So really, instead of just randomly deciding to reveal this vital canonical information now, it’s more like Pottermore just trying to get in on some trending hashtag fun.
By telling us that wizards used to shit themselves.
But Twitter has become all aflutter by this magical hygiene tidbit today:
omg but they don’t learn vanishing charms till like 5th year so what did they do from ages 11-15??? find an upperclassmen to vanish their shit for them???? girl
— John Ficklen (@hexedboy) 4 January 2019
I'm sorry I ever bad-mouthed Rowling's incessant lore-rewriting. "All wizards used to shit themselves" is insanely good https://t.co/upNCybNhSH
— Siddhant Adlakha (@SidizenKane) 4 January 2019
Me 5 minutes ago: JK gave joy to countless people think about that and stop railing on her all the time.
Pottermore: Yeah but what if- https://t.co/i90oULDD3W
— Bee Wakefield 🎮 (@Bee_Wakefield) 4 January 2019
i have so many questions. Does vanish mean BANISHED or INVISIBLE? Are you telling me everyone in hogwarts was tromping through invisible shit going "right o theres shit in me shoes" and people were just openly shitting on themselves in public areas???? I fucking hate you https://t.co/AelIGLENpx
— 🏳️🌈Rattus Rattus (@brunchanan) 4 January 2019
But it really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny the moment you think about it beyond the base level of Wizards just...letting it loose wherever they happen to be standing. You can’t just say “oh it was the 18th century, that’s vaguely old enough for everyone to believe people would just shit everywhere.”
The concept of the toilet has existed for thousands of years—the Palace of Knossos in Crete, built around 1700 BC, had a surprisingly intricate sewage system that included latrines with water reservoirs that would be then used to flush waste away (via jugs of water). We’ve had the concept of garderobes—specific overhanging rooms where people would relieve themselves and allow the waste to drop into a moat—and commodes since the Medieval times.
Hell, the 19th century was the century for modern toiletry as we know it. Despite the fact Sir John Harrington invented the flushing toilet two centuries prior in 1592, Thomas Crapper’s popularisation of in-home sanitary plumbing in the mid 1800s brought flushing toilets into the mainstream. So if all these dumb Muggles that wizards had been living among (or observing from afar) had been developing all these sanitation advancements, are we really meant to believe wizards just...walked around vanishing away their own shit whenever the mood took them? And who cleaned up the shit of the young students who hadn’t learned the vanishing spell yet? That’s right.
The House Elves.
Image: Warner Bros.