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Medieval leather shoes found at the Westgate site, Oxford, England

Over 100 Rare Leather and Wooden Artifacts Found in Oxford Dig

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Archaeologists excavating in Oxford have found  a stockpile of wonderfully preserved medieval leather and wooden artifacts, which is as good as gold in their eyes. They expect to uncover many more objects between now and this year's deadline in December.

Though they have only been excavating for about a month, they have uncovered at least 50 leather shoes, a complete leather bag, wooden posts, and a wooden bowl. These artifacts have all been well-preserved due to the Thames floodplain area being below the water level at the site. The incredible preservation of the artifacts has helped in dating the leather goods to approximately 700 years ago.

Wooden bowl found at the Westgate site, Oxford, England

Wooden bowl found at the Westgate site, Oxford, England ( Oxford Archaeology )

Oxford Archaeology project director Ben Ford has told BBC news that  "These finds are as rare as gold and often as informative...they tell us about the everyday people, their lives, the objects they made and the clothes they wore."

Project Officer, Rebecca Peacock has interpreted some of the finds for the Oxford Mail . She told the newspaper that, “The artifacts that we have found tell us an awful lot about how the people of Oxfordshire have been living over the past 700 years...From the shoes, pots and bags that we have found, we can see that Oxford was a small scale industrial town and that there has always been a lot of trade and work in the area.”

Some of the artifacts previously found at the Westgate site are currently on display in a 'Pop-Up Museum' located near the site.

Some of the artifacts previously found at the Westgate site are currently on display in a 'Pop-Up Museum' located near the site. ( Oxford Archaeology )

Ms Peacock also told the Oxford Mail that these artifacts suggest that there was a high quality of life and wealthier people have chosen to settle in the area for many centuries. However, some poorly made pottery also suggests that there was likely a large working-class in the area for centuries as well.

The location of the current Westgate Shopping Centre excavation was previously the site of the Greyfriars religious order's friary. The Greyfriars are a Franciscan religious order that constructed their friary just outside of the Oxford city walls in 1224.

This year's Westgate Excavations will complete in December. The Westgate development project is set to be completed in 2017, therefore there is still much time for new discoveries.

Archaeologists are keen to find more, as Ms Peacock told the Oxford Mail , “While we haven’t found any early settlements yet, we are hoping that we might find some houses and signs of life from the Iron Age."

If the current number of artifacts are any indication, archaeologists may be correct in their belief that 100s more are still waiting to be unearthed at the site.

Featured Image: Medieval leather shoes found at the Westgate site, Oxford, England ( Oxford Archaeology )

By Alicia McDermott

 
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