Medieval Winkle Pickers from Cathedral Square

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These stunning examples of complete leather medieval shoes were found in the autumn of 1965 when emergency excavations were being carried out by the Worcester City Archaeological Research Group in the area soon to be Cathedral Square.

The building of the Giffard Hotel was underway and Henry Sandon, who later became known for his work on Antiques Roadshow and at Worcester’s own Museum of Royal Worcester, had been given permission to visit the site daily to inspect whether contractors had come across anything of archaeological interest.

The tops of two medieval wells were found and arrangements were made to excavate them along with cesspits and rubbish pits found in the same area under the supervision of the University of Birmingham’s Phillip Barker.

Quantities of preserved leather shoe soles, offcuts and fragments were found along with these shoes which had been made some time in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.

This wonderful collection includes a child’s ankle boot with a rounded toe, fashionable side lacing pointed ankle boots for adults and the most interesting of all, a ‘winkle-picker ‘ shoe which was stuffed with moss that has been identified as a type commonly found in small rivers, streams and ponds. The moss was stuffed into the toe of the shoe to keep its stylish pointy shape.

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