Category: Know-how

All secrets of ancient shoe making revealed

The results of 20 years of research are finally being published. The examination of over 4,000 shoe remains recovered by archaeologists throughout Europe tell us about the evolution of technique and fashion of footwear over a period of nearly 5’000 years. Marquita Volken’s Thesis is finally accessible to the public.

you can order the book here: //  or  Oxbow Books

The knowledge of how to make a shoe pattern was certainly the ancient shoemaker’s most closely guarded secret, passed from master to apprentice but never written down. Now, after 20 years of research, the principles for making ancient shoe patterns have been rediscovered. Marquita Volken uses the practical knowledge and research techniques developed by Olaf Goubitz in combination with the methods established by Carol van Driel-Murray and Willy Groenmann-van Waateringe to identify the 17 basic types of cutting patterns used for archaeological leather footwear. Over 400 named shoe styles are identified and presented within a chronological framework covering Prehistory, the Roman period, the Middle Ages and the early modern times. This comprehensive guide to European archaeological footwear is richly illustrated with drawings and photographs of archaeological leather shoe finds and shoe reconstructions. A catalogue presents each named shoe style along with the cutting patterns used, a concise description and a full list of the published examples. The volume also includes a short history of calceological studies, case studies, the fundamental research methods and an overview of shoe sole/upper constructions for archaeological leather shoes.

About the author: Marquita Volken holds degrees in philosophy, art history, fine art, and a doctorate degree in archaeology. She is the author and co-author of over 70 articles and book contributions about archaeological leather finds from Switzerland, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and France

you can order the book here:
or  Oxbow Books
or //

Experiment A

The Association Experiment A works in the field of experimental archaeology. Their task is to find answers to questions or theories posed by archaeologists by using resources of experimental archaeology on a scientific basis. Public access is made possible through their participation in historical events and workshops. A project concerned with medieval times led them to recreate their own costumes based on the Codex Manesse.

Read More

Medieval pattens

Medieval footwear had thin soles and pattens would give an extra protection against the cold, wet and dirt from the ground. Leather-cork pattern where at first for indoor use. Wood pattens would ease walking in wet dirt.


The Arnolfini portrait by Jan van Eick shows us both versions: the wooden pattens (1) with street dirt stuck to them and the neatly put away leather pattens (2) at the foot of the bench.


Pirate boots?

17th century soft riding boots
After a find from the Waddensee, nearby Groningen, Netherland

This would be the perfect boots for a pirate movie, but has anybody ever given a thought about the fact that horses where quite scarce on high sea and naval cavalry unheard of?

Read More