Romano-British shoe from Amesbury

Conservation of a Romano-British leather shoe


A stone coffin containing a Romano-British woman and child was found during excavations by Wessex Archaeology at Amesbury in 2007, as part of a large housing development. A large number of Romano-British graves in several distinct cemeteries have so far been uncovered as part of this development, although this is the only grave so far found to contain a stone coffin, suggesting that this woman was of some status within her community.
The woman was wearing cork-soled slippers and the child a pair of calfskin shoes, in both cases extremely rare survivals, and direct parallels have not so far been found in this country. The coffin also contained a complete imported French pottery vessel as well as a copper alloy anklet and a string of jet beads. 
The child’s calfskin shoes were well preserved, particularly that for the left foot. Approximately 80% of this shoe survived, although the sole had separated from the upper. The shoes were stitched, and appeared to be ankle shoes, fastened with laces.


All the fragments of the shoe were recorded before the pieces were cleaned and consolidated. The shoe had been squashed sideways, but the general shape can still be seen. 
The shoe is kept in a controlled environment to increase its chances of long term survival.