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Prehistoric Shoes

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Hand-stitched Footwear

Prehistoric Shoe Hand-stitched Footwear

Prehistoric Shoe

2000BC to 1200AD
adult sizes 4-13
£75.00
Style Code: PP

Basic turn-shoe with uppers and sole cut in one piece. Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area. Suitable for most people of the Pre-Roman period. In later periods a good compromise for people who should really go barefoot. Colour: natural or saddle-tan
Bronze Age Shoe
Hair-On Hand-stitched Footwear

Bronze Age Shoe
Hair-On

adult sizes 4-13
£110.00
Style Code: BAH
Plain Leather:
adult sizes 4-13
£85.00
Style Code: BAL

Shoe constructed from one single piece of hair-on skin. The uppers are gathered in pleats around the toes and there is a vertical seam at the heel. The shoes are cut from the skins so that the pile of the hair on the sole is facing in the "wrong" direction which has an anti-slip-effect when walking. Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area.
Also available in plain leather in the colours saddle-tan, medium-brown and dark-brown.
Iron-Age Shoe with Cut-out Ornamentation Hand-stitched Footwear

Iron-Age Shoe with Cut-out Ornamentation

adult sizes 4-13
£100.00
Style Code: IAC

Shoe constructed from one single piece of leather. A row of tongues is gathered around the toes (adjustable) and there is an inverted Y-shaped seam at the heel. Cut-out ornamentation around the instep.
Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area.
Available with the flesh-side of the leather facing outwards (suede-like effect) on request, please make a note on your order-form. Available in the colours medium-brown and dark-brown.
Please read the additional information about authenticity at the bottom of this page.
Iron-Age Shoe with Cut-out and Incised Zigzag Ornamentation Hand-stitched Footwear

Iron-Age Shoe with Cut-out and Incised Zigzag Ornamentation

adult sizes 4-13
£100.00
Style Code: IAZ

Shoe constructed from one single piece of leather. A row of tongues is gathered around the toes (adjustable) and there is an inverted Y-shaped seam at the heel. Cut-out ornamentation and zig-zag pattern incisions on the three sets of tongues closest to the instep.
Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area.
Available in the colours medium-brown and dark-brown.
Please read the additional information about authenticity at the bottom of this page.
Iron-Age Shoe with Awesome Cut-out and Incised Ornamentation Hand-stitched Footwear

Iron-Age Shoe with Awesome Cut-out and Incised Ornamentation

adult sizes 4-13
£140.00
Style Code: IAO

Shoe constructed from one single piece of leather. A row of tongues is gathered around the toes (adjustable) and there is an inverted Y-shaped seam at the heel. The cut-out ornamentation and incision patterns on the asymmetrically enlarged lateral side of this shoe are just awesome. Very early period, yes, primitive, NO!
Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area.
Available in the colours medium-brown and dark-brown.
Please read the additional information about authenticity at the bottom of this page.
Iron-Age Shoe 
Resembling a Mocassin Hand-stitched Footwear

Iron-Age Shoe
Resembling a Mocassin

adult sizes 4-13
£100.00
Style Code: IAM

Shoe constructed from one single piece of leather. This shoe was widely worn throughout the Iron-Age and has the typical laces that are wrapped all the way round the foot. Keeps your feet warmer than the sandal-type styles.
Typical is the heel-seam which joins two crescent-shaped heel-quarters and extends approx. 1inch underneath the heel. This authentic "design-flaw" means that the shoes may require mending sooner than other types. If you wish to have them made with an inverted Y-shaped heel-seam instead, just let me know.  Please note that the seam across the instep may or may not be on the pair you order, depending on your foot-shape and the materials available.
Increased durability and comfort thanks to the additional 3.5mm(1/7in) tough leather sole fixed inside, resulting in a total thickness of 6mm in the sole-area.
Can be made from hair-on skin, with the hair facing inwards or the hair on the outside - but will cost a lot more than in plain leather. Ask us for a quote.
Available in the colours medium-brown and dark-brown.
Please read the additional information about authenticity at the bottom of this page.

Raw-hide for shoe styles PP and BAL:

These shoes were made in some cultures and in some periods from raw-hide. The raw-hide available to me is very stiff and uncomfortable to wear and I do not recommend this. It is also not possible to fit an extra sole-layer inside. If you require the shoes as an exhibit only, I can make shoe-style PP or BAH from rawhide for you.

Iron Age Shoes: Where is the archaeological evidence?

Unfortunately to my knowledge there are no Iron-Age shoe-finds from the British Isles. If you know of Iron-Age shoes for the British Isles I would very much like to hear about it. The originals for the shoes you see reproduced here come all from the continent. Mostly Denmark and Northern Germany, also a few from Southern Germany. Quite a few were found within 50 miles of Haithabu, a thriving trading town at the time with wide reaching international contacts, including the British Isles. The shoe-finds from Southern Germany, some 600 miles south Haithabu look very similar to the finds from Denmark and Schleswig, suggesting that these shoe-types were wide-spread throughout Central and Northern Europe at the time.
So why are there no finds for the British Isles? I don't know. The only suggestion I can make (please note, this is only a suggestion, please do not pass this on as fact!) is that maybe the corresponding strata of peat-bog in which most of the continental finds were located  were dug up and used for fuel in Britain much earlier than on the continent; at a time when nobody was interested in such finds and discarded them. If you are an archaeologist reading this and you know more about bogs than I, I would be grateful if you contacted me and set me right on this assumption.

How accurate is the dating?

The vast majority of the shoe-finds, and there are approx. 30 in total, are from bog-finds. Unfortunately a lot of these finds were unearthed in Victorian times or even earlier and the sites and artefacts were therefore not treated as scientifically as they would be today. Many of the shoes are therefore undatable. One shoe was dated through pollen analysis, another through pottery found on the same site as the shoe. One shoe was dated with the C14 method. However, some of the dating just states "Iron Age" leaving us with a time-bracket from 700BC to 800AD which is surely too wide.
I am sorry that I do not have the answers, but I at least am doing my best not to mislead  you.

Iron Age Mocassins - Eek!

It is a bit of a culture shock because we are so used to visualizing Iron Age people with the tongue and cross-lace shoes that are depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron, but at least 7 specimens of the mocassin type are known from finds in Denmark and Northern Germany. The patterns vary, but the basic construction principle stays the same. Although not as pretty as the ornamented sandal-styles, these shoes are very useful and due to their covered-up design they are the warmer alternative. Variations of these shoes were found in plain leather, hair-on calf/cow-skin with the hair on the inside on one specimen and on the outside on another. Again, that would make them warmer, but if you want furry boots (an abomination amongst Viking re-enactors who work so hard to dispel just this cliche) please remember that they will not stay furry for very long. Friction during wear will cause the hairs to fall out pretty quickly - how about considering the Iron Age equivalent of socks instead?
Another typical feature of the mocassin-type shoes is the heel-seam which joins two crescent-shaped heel-quarters and extends approx. 1 inch underneath the heel. It works, especially in a culture where people used to bear most of their weight on the balls of their feet rather than on the heels as we do today. However, because of this authentic "design flaw" these shoes may need mending sooner than the types with the inverted Y-shaped heel.

Socks and Things...

Found inside one of the mocassin-style shoes were plant-fibres of unidentified grasses pointing towards the padding of shoes with grass or straw, another shoe contained a piece of woollen cloth approx. 30 by 20 cm, pointing towards the use of foot-wraps, and yet another contained an amputated foot (how careless to mislay your feet with your shoes like that!) with woollen fibres caught underneath the toes pointing towards the use of a fleecy woollen insole.

Extras

Heel Cushions (Price GBP 5.00):

These are modern leather covered latex wedges that you can wear inside your shoes. They help to prevent painful heels if you are not used to walking in flat-soled shoes. As they are loose you can order as many pairs as you like to wear with other shoes as well. In this case please specify for what shoe-size you are ordering.

Colours (included in Price):

Prehistoric hand-stitched shoes come in three colours: saddle-tan, medium brown and dark brown. Please specify when ordering.
Please note that some of the Iron-Age shoes come only in medium brown and dark brown because we cannot get the high-quality lacing that we need for these shoes, in saddle-tan and dark laces look odd and leave marks on pale coloured shoes.

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© Ana Deissler 09-2012