Roman shoe hoard found in Northumberland

Archaeologists have dug up 421 ancient Roman shoes at the site of the Vindolanda fort, on Hadrian's Wall, in Northumberland.

During a dig, lasting the whole summer, each shoe was uncovered and recovered one by one.

Experts say each shoe offers a window into the life and type of person who might have once worn it.

These range from baby boots, small children’s shoes, female footwear and men’s boots and bath clogs.

What has been uncovered conceivably represents more than one shoe for every person who lived inside the fort at Vindolanda at that time.

Two of the 421 Roman shoes found at Vindolanda. Credit: Vindolanda Trust
Part of Hadrian's Wall. Credit: ITV News
Roman Soldiers taking part in a re-enactment battle with the Barbarians at Hadrian's Wall. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

1,800 years ago the Roman army built one of its smallest but most heavily defended forts at the site of Vindolanda.

The small garrison of a few hundred soldiers and their families took shelterbehind a series of large ditches and ramparts, while outside the walls a war was raging between the northern British Tribes and Roman forces.

Once the war was over (c AD 212) the troops and their dependants pulled out of the fort, and anything that they could not carry with them on the march was tossed into the defensive ditches.

The rubbish in the ditches was then quickly sealed when a new Roman town and fort was built at the site, preserving the rubbish in an oxygen free environment where the normal ravages of time, rust and decay, crawled to a halt.