Fantastic Facts

Want to find out more about the eras featured in the TIME HUNTERS books? These weird and wonderful facts will help you become a history expert like Tom!

  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Only children from wealthy families would be educated. Many were tutored at home and schools were only for boys. Punishments were severe and some schools even used slaves to hold the children down to be whipped. Ouch!
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Dinner time was known as cena and it could last for hours. Ancient Romans would eat dormice, sea urchins and even peacock tongues. Er, sounds tasty…
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Doctors would sometimes go to extreme lengths to find out what was wrong with a patient, by tasting their poo or drinking their wee. How gross is that?!
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Cobwebs were used to stop cuts bleeding. Bet you’re glad we have plasters now!
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    During the 3rd century over 20 Roman emperors ruled were assassinated. What a deadly job!
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    The Battle of Hastings in 1066 didn’t actually take place in Hastings; it took place at Senlac Hill, which is six miles away. That’s as far as the Isle of Wight is from the coast of England.
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    The Ancient Romans ate lettuce... for dessert! They believed lettuce helped you sleep, so they ate it after their dinner.
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    The Ancient Romans invented central heating! They built their homes with raised floors so hot air from a furnace could heat the rooms above. This type of heating system was called a hypocaust.
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Roman priests called augurs believed they could predict the future by studying the insides of dead animals. Yuck!.
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    The Romans went to public bath houses to get clean. Instead of using soap, they’d rub their skin with oil then scrape off dirt with a metal tool called a strigil. Eww!
  • ANCIENT ROME FACT
    Life was tough for a soldier in the Roman army. They had to be able to march up to 20 miles (32 km) per day while wearing heavy armour. Phew!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    In Medieval Law animals could be charged with committing a crime. They were tried in court and given sentences for injuring or killing people and even stealing. They must have been barking mad!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    During 1348–49, a third of England’s population died from the Black Death. No one knew it was caused by rats carrying infected fleas. Many people thought it was a punishment from God. It was also thought that bathing and changing your clothes would make God angry, as it was a sign that you cared too much about what you looked like. So lots of people didn’t wash. Stinky!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    Water wasn’t safe to drink, so people including children drank ale instead. Beer for breakfast anyone? Yuck!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    People cleaned their teeth with a cloth or a twig. If you had a toothache, the only cure was to have it pulled by a barber!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    People in medieval times used squares of stale bread for plates. At least they didn't have to do any washing up!
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    A medieval toilet was called a garderobe. In a castle, a chute carried the waste from the garderobe down to the moat below. It probably wasn’t a good idea to swim in the moat...
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    In medieval times, people kept their coins in pots made from a type of clay called "pygg". That’s why today we keep our money in a "piggy bank".
  • MEDIEVAL FACT
    People thought they could protect themselves from getting the plague by drinking beer mixed with egg shells, leaves, marigold flowers and treacle. Gross!
  • VIKING FACT
    Vikings had an interesting use for skulls. They would wash them out, fill the eyes, nose and ear holes with wax and use them to drink from. Now that’s a deadly cocktail!
  • VIKING FACT
    The word ‘berserk’ comes from the Berserkers, who were vicious Viking warriors. They were so tough that they wore animal skins instead of armour, fought in a ‘trancelike’ state and had terrifying battle cries. Yikes!
  • VIKING FACT
    In Viking times children would become adults when they turned twelve. No more homework – woohoo!
  • VIKING FACT
    Greenland was named ‘green’ by Erik the Red to trick people into settling there. It was actually very icy and cold. Brrrr!
  • VIKING FACT
    Viking men were often given nicknames based on their appearance or personality, like Eric Bloodaxe, King Sven Forkbeard and Harald Bluetooth Gormsson. What would your Viking name be?
  • VIKING FACT
    The Vikings believed that the god Thor ruled the skies. He had a hammer, a magic belt and iron gloves. When Vikings saw lightning, they thought Thor had thrown his hammer.
  • VIKING FACT
    The Vikings believed that the world was flat and held up by a giant ash tree. That would have to be one strong tree!
  • VIKING FACT
    The Vikings really knew how to party! Their feasts sometimes lasted for over a week.
  • VIKING FACT
    Viking clothes were made from wool and animal skins. They didn’t have zips and buttons, so they used leather ties and metal brooches to fasten their clothing.
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Battle of Marathon was a famous Greek victory against the Persians. A Greek hero called Pheidippides ran 150 miles (241 km) to fetch help from Sparta. After the battle he ran 26 miles (42 km) to Athens to tell them the good news, but then he died of exhaustion. This is why the modern marathon race is 26 miles (42 km) long. Even reading this makes me tired!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The yo-yo was invented in Ancient Greece and is one of the oldest toys in the world. Cool!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    Some Greeks would not eat beans because they thought they had the souls of the dead in them. What a great excuse!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    Spartans were the fiercest and toughest of the Greek warriors, they had a special drink made from salt, vinegar and blood. How disgusting!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Olympics were invented in Ancient Greece in a city called Olympia. Athletes would compete naked. Well that would be embarrassing in P.E. ...
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Olympic Games have changed a lot since Ancient Greek times. Pankration was a mix of wrestling and boxing. The only rules were that you couldn't bite or poke someone in the eye!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    Pale skin was fashionable so Greek women powdered their faces with poisonous white lead. Now that’s what I call suffering for fashion!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Spartans were famous for being tough warriors. They grew their hair long and wore red cloaks so bloodstains wouldn’t show. How very practical!
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Ancient Greeks believed that their gods and goddesses lived in the clouds above Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece.
  • ANCIENT GREECE FACT
    The Ancient Greeks loved going to the theatre. The all-male actors wore wigs and masks with mouth holes to help their voices sound louder.
  • PIRATE FACT
    Pirates rarely made people walk the plank. Instead, they preferred other punishments, like flogging people or leaving them on a deserted island to starve. That doesn’t sound like a fun holiday!
  • PIRATE FACT
    Pirates pierced their ears as they believed that wearing silver and gold in them would improve their eyesight. Wearing glasses sounds less painful!
  • PIRATE FACT
    Pirates thought it was acceptable to use an enemy’s skull as a goblet to drink from, but it was rude to use it as a puppet to imitate the dead pirate. Quite right too!
  • PIRATE FACT
    Only two privateers (no pirates) are recorded as having wooden legs and there is no historical evidence that any pirate ever owned a parrot. Ohh-arrrr!
  • ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FACT
    Pharaohs didn’t wipe their own bottoms. Instead they had a royal bottom wiper to do it for them. That job stinks!
  • ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FACT
    An Ancient Egyptian cure for blindness was to mash up a pig’s eye, mix it with red ochre and then pour it into the patient’s ear. Good job they couldn’t see what was coming...
  • ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FACT
    Children in Egypt didn’t wear any clothes until they were teenagers as it was so hot. Ooo-err!
  • ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FACT
    Ancient Egyptians would mummify their dead. To make sure the body didn’t rot they would take out all of the internal organs, before wrapping the body in cloth. To remove the brain they used a hook to pull it out through the nose. That’s a big bogey!
  • WILD WEST FACT
    Horses were so important that stealing one was considered a hanging offence! That’s not the way to get a-head in life...
  • WILD WEST FACT
    Whenever there was a gunfight, this would usually take place in the middle of town at High Noon. Number one on the ‘Places to Avoid’ list...
  • WILD WEST FACT
    The infamous cowboy Wild Bill Hickok was first known as ‘Duck Bill’ because of his huge nose! That’s just quackers!
  • WILD WEST FACT
    After eating beans, some cowboys were said to have called them ‘Deceitful beans’ because they ‘talked behind your back’! Parp!
  • WILD WEST FACT
    Cowboys were among the first people to wear denim jeans. They were invented to be hard-wearing work trousers. Genius!
  • SAMURAI FACT
    Samurai lived by a strict code of honour, known as Bushido, or ‘the way of the warrior’. Sincerity, loyalty and readiness to die for honour were its main attributes. Yikes!
  • SAMURAI FACT
    Only around ten per cent of Japan’s population were part of the samurai warrior class, but they had a huge influence on fashion and culture. Along with geishas, they were the rock stars of today. Cool!
  • SAMURAI FACT
    Samurai suits of armour were made of ceramic plates sewn together. They were the inspiration for the military flak jackets worn by the United States Army during World War II. That’s a lot of dinner plates...
  • SAMURAI FACT
    Around 1600, the samurai were granted the privilege of wearing two swords, something no one else in the whole of Japan was allowed to do. Lucky them!
  • SAMURAI FACT
    The samurai’s ceremonial clothing, the kataginu, had winged shoulders and was worn over a long robe called a kimono and baggy trousers called the hakama. I might stick with jeans...
  • OUTBACK FACT
    Ned Kelly was Australia’s most famous bushranger and outlaw. Many charges were brought against him and his notorious gang, including theft, bank robbery, murder and even taking an entire town captive! Kelly was eventually hanged in Melbourne Gaol in 1880. Yikes!
  • OUTBACK FACT
    Bushrangers were outlaws in Australia, similar to highwaymen in Britain. Many of them, like Captain Thunderbolt, became household names. Well, it is a great name!
  • OUTBACK FACT
    Many bushrangers saw themselves as Robin Hood figures, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Hurrah!
  • OUTBACK FACT
    The first European people to arrive in Australia were a group of eight hundred convicts, transported there in 1788 as punishment for their crimes. Better than detention!
  • OUTBACK FACT
    It is still traditional for the young Aboriginal tribesmen of Australia’s Outback to go ‘Walkabout’ – a long journey into the wilderness. It is a rite of passage that can last up to six months. And you thought maths lessons were long!
  • STONE AGE FACT
    The Stone Age lasted around 3.4million years, making it the longest age in human history! It ended between 4500 BC and 2000 BC when people discovered how to make metals by smelting ores, which was the start of the Bronze Age. About time too!
  • STONE AGE FACT
    During the late Stone Age – or Neolithic Age – carpentry really took off. Small branches of trees were woven into fences and the walls of round houses. They were then wind-proofed with a mixture of straw, clay and animal dung. Gross!
  • STONE AGE FACT
    It took overa thousand years (between 4500 BC and 3500 BC) for British people to go from travelling hunter-gatherers like the Stone Age men to farmers with established communities. That’s a long time to be wandering around!
  • STONE AGE FACT
    ‘Henges’ or ritual stone rings like Stonehenge or Avebury in Wiltshire started to appear between 3300 BC 1200 and are only found in Britain and Ireland. Rock on!
  • STONE AGE FACT
    Because Stone Age men didn’t havea properly formed language, they used gestures to communicate, and cave paintings to tell stories. Cool!
  • MOHICAN FACT
    Mohicans and other Native American people lived in structures made of wood, grass, bark and cloth called wigwams. These are often confused with tent houses called tipis. ‘We-ku-wuhm’ is wigwam in Mohican!
  • MOHICAN FACT
    Mohicans wore fringed boots called moccasins, breechcloths and leggings. Men and women often wore their hair in two long braids and wore feathers in their hair on special occasions. I might try that!
  • MOHICAN FACT
    The ‘Mohawk’ hairstyle was worn by enemies in battle. Instead of shaving the sides of their heads, they would pull out hair in clumps. Ouch!
  • MOHICAN FACT
    The Mohican tribe were famous for their beautiful beadwork. They crafted ‘wampum’ beads out of white and purple shells, often weaving them into belts given as gifts or used as money. That’s some belt!
  • MOHICAN FACT
    Native Americans used canoes made by digging out and shaping trees. They were used when fishing or travelling by water. Almost as fun as a lilo!
  • AZTEC FACT
    It wasn’t just the Egyptians who built pyramids – the Aztecs did too. The Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlán was dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain and agriculture, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. It rose fifty metres above the city. Wow, that’s high!
  • AZTEC FACT
    The Aztec people worshipped many gods. The god Tezcatlipoca was believed to be able to turn into a Jaguar and see everything that ever happened. Every year a young man was sacrificed to him – by having his heart cut out! That’s quite a sacrifice!
  • AZTEC FACT
    The Aztec capital was called Tenochtitlán. It was built on a vast artificial island that today is at the centre of Mexico City. The location was chosen when Aztec travellers saw an eagle land on a cactus, an image that had been predicted in an ancient prophesy. How eagle-eyed of them!
  • AZTEC FACT
    Chocolate played an important role in Aztec rituals. Cocoa beans were offered up as gifts to the gods by priests and hot chocolate drinks were used in ceremonies. That’s my kind of ceremony!