Britain's oldest shoe was a size 10

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The Independent Online

Delighted archaeologists have discovered what is believed to be the oldest shoe in the UK, a 2,500-year-old Iron Age lace-up, the first ancient Briton leather footwear to have survived.

Delighted archaeologists have discovered what is believed to be the oldest shoe in the UK, a 2,500-year-old Iron Age lace-up, the first ancient Briton leather footwear to have survived.

It was unearthed from an old well in Somerset and measures 30cm, a modern nine or 10, indicating its wearer was a tall man. Thread-stitched up the heel, it was made of a single piece of leather and laced across the top.

Stephen Reed, of Exeter Archaeology, who led the dig, said oxygen would have disintegrated any normal buried shoe after a couple of years but this one survived because it was waterlogged and oxygen-free.

He added: "As far as we know, this is the oldest shoe found in the UK. It is reasonably well preserved, with stitch and lace holes still visible." Even in Europe, he said, they numbered "only in the tens". Ancient tradition held that chucking shoes down wells was said to bring good luck.

It is now in a conservation centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and is expected to go to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

The well, at Town Farm in Burlescombe, was made of a hollowed tree trunk inserted in a pit lined with wattle and clay to extract clear water.

The world's oldest shoes, made of woven grass, are 8,000 years old, found in caves in the southern US.The Iceman, the Neolithic tribesman who froze to death in the Alps 5,000 years ago, and caused an international argument over his remains, also had footwear, but his were made of bear-hide, deer-skin and plant fibre. Substantial numbers of other prehistoric shoes have also been found, on ancient bog bodies discovered in Denmark, Germany and Holland.

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