30 March 2023 The Future is the Product of the Past

3,000-Year-Old leather Shoe discovered On A Beach In Kent, UK

A Bronze Age relic found on a Kent beach is believed to be the oldest shoe ever found in the United Kingdom. The shoe, made of leather, is 3,000 years old and was discovered by archaeologist Steve Tomlinson.

Tomlinson sent the shoe to an East Kilbride, Scotland unit for carbon dating even though he didn’t think it was particularly noteworthy when he first discovered it. He got a response stating the shoe was from the late Bronze Age five weeks later.

“The date they had given me was just astonishing. It’s incredible, and it’s so, so rare. Textiles like this don’t survive often, they have to be found in anaerobic conditions,” Tomlinson told Kent Online.

The shoe is potentially the oldest found in the British Isles, and is also thought to be the smallest Bronze Age shoe found in the world. The shoe is 15cm long, and it is thought that it was worn by a child aged two- to three years old.

Previously, the 2,000-year-old shoe discovered by archaeologists at the Somerset quarry in 2005 was thought to be the oldest in the United Kingdom.

The shoe after cleaning. Photo: Steve Tomlinson
The shoe after cleaning. Photo: Steve Tomlinson

However, the discovery in Kent is even older – and is also potentially the smallest Bronze Age shoe ever found in the world,” Kent Online reports.

“I will certainly look forward to the future and what we can all learn from this incredible find. Finding something like that is quite extraordinary. It opens up history too; we just know nothing about these kinds of things,” Tomlinson said.

Now, additional research is being done to see what kind of animal the leather was made from and whether any DNA can be derived from the artifact.

The Bronze Age shoe is anticipated to go to the British Museum once all scientific investigations have been completed.

Cover Photo: Steve Tomlinson

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