10 Pages

Saxon Shoes, Viking Sheaths? Cultural Identity in Anglo-Scandinavian York

WithEsther Cameron, Quita Mould

The largest quantity of Anglo-Scandinavian leatherwork to have been found in England was recovered from excavations at York during the 1970s. The quality and quantity of leatherwork from 10th- and 11th-century contexts in Anglo-Scandinavian York offers an unparalleled opportunity for research. Study of the large assemblage of shoes from well-dated deposits at Coppergate, York, has provided an opportunity to re-evaluate differences first recognized in the smaller recovered elsewhere. The wearing of shoes with V-backs, first seen in the middle years of the 9th century, quickly spread across the country, apparently under Scandinavian influence. The few Anglo-Saxon shoes from England of late 8th- and earlier 9th-century date have soles with rounded seats, and appear to have one-piece uppers joining with a single side seam. This chapter describes how an earlier Anglo-Saxon sheath-making tradition was visible within the Anglo-Scandinavian assemblage from Coppergate. It appears that elements of Anglo-Saxon tradition were also present in substantial proportion of footwear made and worn in York.