Holding a nearly 2,000 year old Roman shoe at Vindolanda

I’ve been so busy with my tours that I haven’t had a day off since April 16th and so my blog posts are currently a bit shorter than usual.  Even last week when I would be walking for up to 11 hours a day, I still had to start and finish my day with what I call Admin Work.

One of the places I most enjoyed visiting last week was the old Roman site of Vindolanda.Vindolanda is one of Europe’s most important Roman archeological sites and every summer archeologists and volunteers from around the world descend on the place.



One photo can’t capture just how big a site Vindolanda is


The site itself comprises at least 8 successive forts of which several were occupied before Hadrian’s Wall was built.  Regiments from across the Empire were garrisoned here. The visible stone fort dates to the early third century and the impressive remains include the fort walls, the headquarters building and the commander’s house.  Extensive remains of the civil settlement lie just west of the fort with buildings lining a main street.

Vindolanda has an excellent on-site museum which provides a magnificent display of the many stunning objects found during the excavations.  These include a remarkable and unique collection of leather and wooden objects that bring life in the fort and in the adjacent civilian settlement to life – shoes, clothing, tools, cooking, crafts like wood and metal working, military equipment, horse harness.



History being uncovered before my eyes


To my delight, whilst I was nosing around, I got talking to one of the archeologists there and just then a pair of old Roman shoes were unearthed and I got to hold them before they were cleaned up.



A mud encased pair of small Roman shoes


I can tell you that they were very smelly indeed but it was a strange feeling to be holding the posessions of someone who lived and died almost 2,000 years ago.  Perhaps the next time I visit Vindolanda, they may be on display in one of the masses of display cabinets in the museum.



Roman shoes at Vindolanda




These Roman shoes look a bit like mine afer I walked Hadrian’s Wall



Don’t worry about hurrying up if you too want the chance to unearth some Roman  treasures; current estimates suggest it will take another 250 years before the site is full excavated.








About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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13 Responses to Holding a nearly 2,000 year old Roman shoe at Vindolanda

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    And this place is in England? Whereabouts? Near Hadrian’s Wall?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete says:

    Reblogged this on Pete's Favourite Things and commented:
    What a wonderful experience. Visited Vindolanda a couple of years ago – a great site

    Liked by 1 person

  3. brewinsgirl says:

    What a privilege to handle those Roman shoes. What tales they could tell! You’ve inspired me to add a page to my blog about my experiences excavating on a Bronze Age site in Hungary – for me, the experience of unearthing a ceramic pot or a bone tool from so long ago was indescribably moving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was indeed a privilege. I kept thinking about the person who previously wore them. Were the shoes discarded because they were old or did the wearer perhaps die from illness or something sinister. I know I wish I could impart some message to anyone who might find any of my belongings in 2,000 years time. Your experience sounds wonderful, I shall be sure to check out your new page.


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