By Elizabeth Greene and the VALP project team

We thought everyone might like an update on how the Vindolanda Archaeological Leather Project has fared through the pandemic so far. Hopefully many of you were able to catch Beth Greene’s talk last March on “The Top 10 Visitor Questions about the Vindolanda Shoes and Leather” if you missed it or want to watch again, you can at the bottom of this blog. You may remember hearing in the past few years that we’ve been working diligently on creating an extensive scientific database to hold all the thousands of finds from Vindolanda, and we started this endeavour with the expansive collections of leather and wood.


Three leather shoes from Vindolanda. 

We were lucky enough in March 2020 to be entering a phase in the database construction that could go virtual easily enough, with the team spread between Canada and the UK and everyone confined to our individual homes. We already had all our working data stored in a Google drive, so we seamlessly shifted to Zoom for our “in person” meetings to work together cleaning the data and populating the database with a huge amount of information about each and every leather object. This is all accompanied by photos for all objects, sometimes five or six for some of the more spectacular shoes in the collection (see photos below). All the data went to our database construction team at Systems Simulation in the summer and we are now working hard to test out the platform and improve on the initial design.

Pair of children’s shoes from 2016

The lockdowns also allowed other work to take place with the collection that brought some fun surprises. If you missed the story about the leather toy mouse and the lively debate it sparked, check that out here (and google it to see stories in The Guardian, Smithsonian and The History Blog among other venues). And our final piece of important news—you can read about this fun find, as well as other exciting discoveries of archaeological shoes and leather objects from all around the world and all time periods, on the newly launched website of the Vindolanda Archaeological Leather Project. We just launched the site this week, so consider yourselves the first to know! We’ll continue to keep these great stories coming as we dive deeper into the largest collection of leather and shoes from anywhere in the Roman Empire. And thank you to everyone reading for keeping up with our Vindolanda research!

Decorated leather panel

Further links to leather collection

A Closer Look - Vindolanda Leather Mouse 

Blog - The Curator's Favourite Shoes

Blog - The curious case of the traveling shoes: Vindolanda goes to Florence