This shoe was the subject of a find report for TVAS in 2008. Although the shoe is called after its find location, it is typical of a style of footwear which was widespread in Ireland in the medieval period, especially in urban centres. This style of shoe has a wide date range from the 9th to the late 12th century. Similar shoes have been recovered from Waterford, Cork and Dublin where they were dated to the late 11th and 12th century as well as further afield in London, York and Hedeby.
It was made from four parts – a single wrap-around upper of deerskin, a side seam insert, a sole of cow hide and a length of lacing thong. There was no rand used in its construction. When found, the shoe was encased in peat and the triangular shaped side seam insert was missing. It would appear to have been stitched with thread as opposed to thong although no trace of either remained.
The complete upper with lacing thong in situ. Gap left by missing insert.
The upper was decorated with a single vamp stripe set in a tunnel stitch, which suggests an early twelfth century date although no trace of this thread remains. The lacing thong was set in closely spaced keeper slits which are located just below the top-edge.
Two views of the sole showing wear damage at the heel and traces of thronging from a clump repair. Grass may have been used to cushion the sole on the inside.
In making the replica shoe I used veg tanned cow hide for both upper and sole and still have to get around to the vamp stripe. I used the original parts to produce an accurate template for the upper and sole, scaled to fit my shoe size.
Two views of the sole seam. As on the original, edge/flesh stitch holes were used on the sole and grain/flesh on the upper.
The triangular shaped insert used to complete the side seam
View of sole showing wear pattern and interior of heel seam
Views of toe and heel of shoe which show beginnings of wear damage
The completed pair of shoes
The shoe is quite comfortable to wear but must be tied tightly around the foot otherwise small stones and grit can enter easily and make walking a nuisance. For extra comfort I have inserted a loose sole on the inside. The original sole thickness was 3mm and I used the same thickness for the replica. If the sole is any thicker it makes turning the shoe almost impossible. In fact all the medieval shoes I have examined have a max of 3mm thick leather for the sole.