2,000-year-old Roman shoes go on display after dig find

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ROMAN shoes dating back nearly 2,000 years are now on display after being discovered during an archaeological dig. The Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society came across the footwear in a former Roman well in a field near Uttoxeter. The group, which boasts about 20 regular members, dug down a 21ft well over a series of months.

Roman shoes The remains of the 40 Second Century leather shoes were found in perfect condition because they were starved of oxygen. They have since been conserved at York Archaeological Trust before going on display in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Hanley, last month.

The society has been digging at the Romano-British site since 2003 and members say the shoes are the most important Roman discovery in the Midlands.

Maureen Thomas, finds officer at the society, said the shoes are both historically and archaeologically important. She said: “We came across a well and when it was excavated it was 21 feet in depth and near the bottom were Roman shoes complete with hobnails. These are extremely rare finds for this area. They’re the finest example of Roman shoes ever found in the Midlands and historically and archaeologically very important. The shoes are thoroughly remarkable. We’ve got lots of pottery, but it’s the shoes that are the unusual thing.”

A large leather sheet from a cow hide and a cow scapula were also found, suggesting there was a shoe maker on site.

The group also found the evidence of Roman buildings, the remains of a Roman road and Roman pottery, wood and a deer antler.

The exhibition will run for about 18 months and could then go to the shoe-specialist Northampton Museum & Art Gallery, or to Walsall Leather Museum.

Maureen’s husband, David Thomas, society photographer, said: “The ankle straps are unique and haven’t been seen before in this country. It’s the greatest thing I’ve found since I joined the society in 1963.

“It’s lovely to handle the leather and to think they’ve been worn nearly 2,000 years ago. It’s the only chance people will have to see Roman shoes in this quantity.”

Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for adult social care, sport, leisure and culture, pictured below, is encouraging the public to visit the “unique” exhibition.

Ms Lyth, Conservative and Independent Alliance member for East Valley, said: “We have revamped the archaeological gallery at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, with more interpretation on the Staffordshire Hoard and more Anglo-Saxon wares displayed from our extensive archives.

“Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society has added to this work with a display of 2,000-year-old Roman leather shoes. It is a remarkable find and excellent addition to the gallery.”


Author: James Truswell | Source: This is Staffordshire [December 31, 2010]


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