A replica pair of Lucas Type 1 one-piece shoes.
A figure on one of the panels of the Cross of Muiredach at Monasterboice in Co. Louth is depicted wearing a pair of shoes similar to that which we now classify as Lucas Type 1. Whether the original maker of the shoe would have referred to it as a Cuaran or an As we will never know. The Cross is dated to c. AD 925 and described by Francoise Henry Croix Sculptees Irelandaises (1964).
Making the shoes
The most difficult part in making a replica of this shoe is to get the pattern drawn accurately. Once the pattern is to size it can be transferred to the leather and cut out. The leather needs to be no more than about 3mm thick as the shoe has to be turned.
As can be seen, the shoe is made from a single piece of leather.
The shoe is stitched from the inside using an edge / flesh butt seam which produces a tightly closed seam when turned. For stitching, I used single strands of synthetic gut. The originals may have been stitched with a length of thong.
When all the stitching is complete, the shoe is immersed in water to soften the leather and then turned. It was at this stage that I applied the inscribed decoration. Finds from Lough Gara and Craigywarren crannogs show the shoe was tied to the foot with thong.
Wear and Tear.
The shoes were worn on a daily basis over a summer season in the Irish National Heritage Park in Co. Wexford. The surface in the park varies from hard-packed earth to grass, gravel and tarmac in places. For most of the time, the wearer was based on the Crannog site where the surface is grass and fine gravel. The heaviest wear damage occurred on the tread of the right foot and the heel of the left. All in all, the shoes were probably worn continuously for about two months before being replaced.
Although the soles are quite damaged by wear, the seams have held up well. A possible option would have been to add a repair sole.
Instead, another pair, the MK II was made and Dr. T. was most happy.