The UK's Last Standing Leech House

You probably know that leeches were once used for medicinal bloodletting. But did you know that the worms lived in luxury in their own houses?

Today, only one of these leech houses remains in the UK: the Georgian Bedale Leech House in Bedale, North Yorkshire. While the medicinal use of leeches dates back 2500 years, this leech house was built in the late 18th century by an apothecary on the estate of the Beresford-Pierse family of Bedale Hall. It was in use until the early 1900s, when the use of leeches dramatically declined.

The leech houses were used to store the worms—often in special containers of moist earth—and keep them alive and fresh until they were needed by druggists or doctors. A flow of water from the Bedale Beck, the adjoining river, was directed through the building and a fireplace kept the creatures warm in the winter. Absent from that set-up: blood to keep them nourished while they waited. Leeches can survive for up to a year between meals.

Leeches were usually collected by women in bogs and marshes who would use horses or their own legs to attract the creatures and transport them in boxes or cages.

The Bedale Leech House was restored by the Bedale District Heritage Trust in 1985, then sold to a private owner in 2003.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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