Major Shoe Find at Camelon Fort Dig

This is one I’ve been sitting on in hopes of getting something with a few more details, but to no avail (so far) … we first mentioned this dig (and the shoe find) a week or so ago (see: This week, National Geographic (quite rightly, I think) picked up the story and is focussing on the shoes … some excerpts:

About 60 pairs of sandals and shoes that once belonged to Roman soldiers have been unearthed at a supermarket construction site in Camelon, Scotland, archaeologists say.

The 2,000-year-old leather footwear was discovered along with Roman jewelry, coins, pottery, and animal bones at the site, which is located at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.


The cache of Roman shoes and sandals—one of the largest ever found in Scotland—was uncovered recently in a ditch at the gateway to a second century A.D. fort built along the Antonine Wall. The wall is a massive defensive barrier that the Romans built across central Scotland during their brief occupation of the region.

The find likely represents the accumulated throwaways of Roman centurions and soldiers garrisoned at the fort, said dig coordinator Martin Cook, an archaeologist with AOC Archaeology Group, an independent contractor in Britain.

“I think they dumped the shoes over the side of the road leading into the fort,” he said.

“Subsequently the ditch silted up with organic material, which preserved the shoes.”

Despite being discards, the hobnailed shoes are in relatively good condition, Cook added.

Newfound Fort One of Decade’s Biggest Finds

While the new supermarket site also includes the remains of a first century Roman fort and ancient field systems, excavations have centered on the area of the younger Antonine fort.

“We’ve got evidence of a really substantial structure,” Cook said. “You would have had a square fort with stone walls and three or four ditches around them.” […]

Other finds include a Roman axe and spearhead, three or four brooches, French Samian ware—which is a high-prestige ceramic—glass, and standard pots, he said.

… what I want to know is whether the shoes have all been definitely identified as male shoes. Women’s (and children’s) shoes have been found in Roman fort contexts in the UK and I’m very curious whether there might not be evidence of a female presence to be found in this cache

Classical Words of the Day ~ 10/13/11

Past couple of days, actually:


This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii idus octobres

Claudius and Agrippina Minor. AD 50/54. Roman ...
Image via Wikipedia

ante diem iii idus octobres

  • Fontinalia — a festival in honour of the divinity Fons, who presided over springs and wells; such sources of water were festooned with garlands for the occasion
  • 54 A.D. — death of the emperor Claudius, purportedly succumbing to a plate of poisoned mushrooms dished up by his niece/wife Agrippina; dies imperii of Nero (son of Agrippina)