Saalburg No. 221

This shoe is one of two quite similar finds (no.s 220 and 221) from one of the wells at the Saalburg castell. The cut and decoration of the uppers is so similar, yet different, that it seems likely that they came from the same workshop if not from the same hand. 

I have always admired those shoes and finally got around to make a pair of one of them. The decoration is an elegant mix of circular holes, triangles, squares, darts and slits. It is very well possible that the decoration was further enhanced by stitching with coloured thread and bands woven through the slits as suggested by Marquita Volken.

The finds were made more than a hundred years ago and the details of the construction are not entirely clear. I first chose to use a combination of punched upper in veg tanned calf skin, underlaid by white alum tanned kid leather.

Another interpretation of this shoe, this time with the decoration suggested by Marquita Volken: embroidered and a leather band woven through the slits (doing this is not my favourite pasttime I must say), executed once in red and yellow with nailed sole and once in off-white and red and unnailed. The red and off-white leathers are a modern tan and dye goat leather, the yellow layer beneath is alum tanned (also known as whit-tawed) kid which I dyed yellow with birch leaves.


  • Busch, Anna Lisa: Die römerzeitlichen Schuh- und Lederfunde der Kastelle Saalburg, Zugmantel and Kleiner Feldberg. Saalburg Jahrbuch 22, 1965. Tafel 15.