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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 16:05 GMT
Antique condoms' Dutch journey
Dudley Castle
The condoms were left at Dudley Castle in the 17th Century
The oldest known condoms in the world - 17th Century creations made of animal and fish intestine - are to leave the UK to be displayed at a Dutch sex exhibition.

The five contraceptives were excavated from a medieval toilet in Dudley Castle in 1985 - they are thought to have lain there since before 1646.

A spokesman for Dudley Council, which has care of the rare items, said they would be on show at the Drents Museum in the province of Drenthein from 11 November to 8 February.

Because the sheaths are so fragile, Dr Vincent Vilsteren, keeper of archaeology, is making a special visit this weekend to collect them.

The museum is staging an exhibition called 100,000 Years of Sex.

It's good to know that the earth has moved for many generations in the borough
Councillor Charles Fraser Macnamara
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 condoms were probably dropped into the toilet in the great tower sometime before 1646, when the castle was surrendered to the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War.

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