A remarkably preserved Roman coffin, and a child’s shoe found within it. Excavated by Wessex Archaeology at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, England.
This burial is the earliest in its cemetery, and dates to around 220 AD. Later burials are clustered around it.
When the archaeologists lifted the lid of this stone coffin, they were surprised to find that it had not been filled with soil. Instead was the skeleton of a woman cradling in her arms a young child. Check out this video if you’re interested in seeing part of the excavation.
Of the items in the coffin, the child’s leather shoe (pictured) survived. Laces that strapped the shoe can be clearly seen, as well as the holes for stitching the shoe together. The woman’s deer skin slippers also survived.
"The preservation of the shoes is remarkable. Because the processes of decay were quite slow we also have traces of cloth that have been preserved by a chemical reaction with the metal bangle. We even have traces of the puparia from which the coffin flies that infested the body hatched. Squeamish but fascinating!"
-Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology
Photos courtesy Wessex Archaeology.