Still the World’s Oldest Shoe

I’ve mentioned this one before, back in 2010. It’s back, now with photographs. This is an updated version of Kate Ravilious’ earlier National Pornograhic article, ‘World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Found—Stunningly Preserved‘ from Dr Kaveh Farrokh’s blog.

Hedeby Leatherwork

Nothing original this time, I just found Willy Groenman van Waateringe’s Die Lederfunde Von Haithabu (Leather Finds from Hedeby) (1984) online and thought you might be interested…

I’ll be making a quiver or two later, so stay tuned.

The Newport Ship reports

If anyone is interested in 15th century leatherwork, woodwork, or any aspect of maritime construction, the Newport Ship have their Specialist Reports online.

The introduction of the Fabric Specialist Report gives some background of the ship.

In 2002, during the construction of the Riverfront Theatre, on the banks of the River Usk in Newport, South Wales, an archaeological find of great significance was unearthed. In the summer of that year, while undertaking the excavations for the theatre’s orchestra pit, the well-preserved remains of a 15th century clinker built merchant vessel were discovered.

The leather catalogue is at:

Be prepared for turn-welted poleyns, leather pump components and an archer’s bracer (MSG 154 on p90).

Chopines in Collector’s Weekly

Collectors Weekly has recently published an article on 16th and 17th century chopines. It handily tells you how to walk when your platform shoes lift you up to nosebleed altitudes.

Have a look at These Chopines Weren’t Made for Walking: Precarious Platforms for Aristocratic Feet by Hunter Oatman-Stanford — April 17th, 2014

16th century Venetian chopine made from wood covered in white leather with punch work on the toes.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Castle Wynd, Inverness, Inverness-shire, IV2 3EB

This was a rather nice small museum and gallery, tucked in at the foot of the castle mound. It manages to fit the whole period from when the earth had just started to cool, through to the week before last into two floors, concentrating on the Highlands. There’s an inevitable Pictish/Celtic slant throughout illustrated with a few quality finds from each location, period and racial grouping of your choice. We spent a wet morning there and managed to identify the snake we’d seen a few days earlier.


Bone pins

Bone dice

Bone die from Urquhart Castle, possibly loaded.

Bone objects from Bernera

Viking sword charm or toy.

Bone objects from Bernera

Shoe toggle and comb plate


Bonnie Prince Charlie dice box
This small copper alloy box with a miniature portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted in oils on a concealed ‘lid’ hidden beneath the outer kid of the box. It contains three ivory dice.


18th century powder horns

18th century powder horns

18th century powder horns


18th century powder horns


Horn cup 18-19th C

Horn cup with silver rim and mount, Robert Naughten (1786-1857)


Leather shoe sole

Leather shoe sole and reproduction. Castle Street, Inverness

Book binding, first edition Gaelic Bible, Bishop William Bedell. Published 1690
First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

Leather faced Tage

Tage, 18th century, leather on wood with iron nails.

National Museum of Scotland – Leather Gallery

There’s a proverbial cow somewhere that’s starting to look nervous…

I’ve finally finished the first cut of the NMS photos. Here for your edification and viewing pleasure is the first lot of leather photos. I’ll do the skeletal materials photos in another post, and I’ve already done the leatherworker’s toolkit elsewhere. Click on them to embiggen if you want a closer view.

The full set of photos contain lots of stone and metalworking as well, I’ll also get the textiles and paint photos up in the Fullness of Time™.

Stone, bronze and iron age

Roman leather fragments, 100-175AD
Weaving comb and leather fragments. The triangular piece looks like it might have been from a tent. Newstead, 100-175AD

Decorated Leather panel, Newstead

Embossed and decorated leather chamfron panel, Newstead. 75-100AD

Roman and Celtic leather shoes

The one-piece shoe on the left is from Newstead (2nd C), the wooden last from Buiston and the two piece shoe from Iona (both 6-8th C). This is one of the problems with the NMS, they group similar items together even though there may be several centuries apart and from different cultures and imply a relationship between the objects that doesn’t necessarily exist.

Roman leather shoes

Multi-part shoes, Newstead 2nd Century AD. There’s at least two and possibly three different styles of shoe here.

Roman leather shoes

Multi-part shoes, Newstead 2nd Century AD. There’s some unrelated leather working tools on the top shelf.

British Leatherworking Tools

British leatherworking tools. Knives from Cairnholly, Cleughhead, Luce Sands, Traprain Law and Camelon. 7500BC-900AD. At least the dates are fairly obvious on this set, even if it does cover nearly 8000 years. The shoe is from Newstead.

British Leatherworking Tools

British leatherworking tools. Awls from Ruberslaw, Burrian, Druimvargie Cave, Foshigarry, Knop of Howar, MacArthur Cave, Skara Brae, Torran Dubh, Buiston and Newstead. 8500BC-900AD
Needles from Hillhead, West Grange of Conon and Laws of Monifieth. 300BC-800AD.


Leather shoes 13-14th C

Leather shoes from the lead mining site at Sillerholes, West Linton, Peeblesshire. 13th to 14th century.

Leather belt pieces and bone awls

Leather belt pieces and bone awls with off-cuts from leatherworking, from Fast Castle, Berwickshire.

Shoe soles

Leather shoe soles. The one on the right is a child’s size. 15-16th century.

Early Modern

Shoe sole detail, Tomb of Mary Queen of Scots

Shoe sole detail, Tomb of Mary Queen of Scots. 1606-12. The cut in the sole for hiding the welting [see comment below] sole stitches can be clearly seen.

Bombard, seventeenth century

Large bombard from the 17th century, four layers of leather in the handle, possible traces of red paint on the back edge. H.JS32.

I have some detail photos here.

Scottish Bollock Knives, 17th C

Scottish Bollock Knives, 17th C

L: With gilt and engraved decoration indicating it belonged to the Master of Home. H.1991.1865.1

R: with scabbard and gilt and decoration on the blade, dated 1617. Scottish, probably Edinburgh. H.LC. 111a and b.

Note the diamond cross-section. Most earlier daggers of this type have triangular cross-section blades.

Museum of Edinburgh Gallery

Here’s the first of the promised galleries. The Museum of Edinburgh is at 143 Cannongate across the road from the Old Tollbooth. The leather galleries are closed for renovation at the moment, so I’ve added the shoe and pattern pictures from an earlier trip.

Leather Fire Bucket, 1820-30

Leather fire bucket, possibly from Holyrood House, with the crowned cypher of George IV painted on the side, dating it (the paint if not the bucket) to between 1820 and 1830. Construction is much simpler than the early Tudor and Dutch buckets I’ve showcased previously, but not riveted.

Leather Fire Bucket, 1820-30

This angle shows the inside of the back seam, and that a reinforcing piece appears to have been riveted on, with the top band then sewn over it.

Silk brocade covered shoes

Silk brocade covered leather shoe, mid-17th century, showing the method of attaching the fabric.

Silk brocade covered shoe and pattern

The other shoe of the pair showing a fabric and leather pattern.

Pattern, mid 17th C

Fabric and leather pattern, mid 17th century.