Heritage100

Low cut slip on shoes

Leather shoes

Distribution of shoes through the ship is unsurprisingly correlated with the human remains.

Some 331 shoes were recovered during excavation of the wreck site of the Mary Rose, including 70 matched pairs. They fall into three main groups - slip on shoes like this pair, ankle boots and thigh high boots.

The construction of these slip on shoes is very simple and they are consequently the most common type found. They may look more like modern slippers, but they are in fact working men's shoes.

The shoes have little decorative embellishment apart from some stitching and cuts on the top. The slit in the left shoe might be ornamental, as slashed clothing was very popular in Tudor times, but it has been suggested that this was done to relieve pressure on a bunion.

There are a couple of differences between these and modern shoes, the most obvious being the lack of a grip on the bottom. It is because of this that most of the shoes found on the Mary Rose were found stowed away below decks, as barefooted sailors were less likely to slip on the wet decks.

Also, there was no designated left or right shoe, both shoes were the same shape, and could be worn on either foot - not very comfortable, but if one shoe started to wear out more than the other, you could swap them over and lengthen their useful life.

Quick Facts

  • Artefact number #82A6002/1-2
  • Found on The Mary Rose
  • Made of leather
  • Period Tudor
  • Date made about 1545

Facts

  • Other leather items excavated include at least 46 jerkins and two mittens.
  • The bulk of the men of the Mary Rose would be wearing functional clothing, and much of this may have been old and worn with some garments possibly passed down second-hand.
  • The presence of a sack full of shoes on the Orlop deck of the Mary Rose might suggest that here was an example of official issue. At least fourteen shoes, including five pairs were found in the sack, with several others nearby.

Did you know?

Some cloth items show clear evidence of repair, as do several of the leather jerkins. Some shoes too were in tatters and the majority had been repaired, some more than once.

Gallery

Low cut slip on shoes

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