19 August 2016

If you find a shoe in your wall...

... please notify the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery.
We keep a concealed shoe index here at the museum.  At the moment the index stands at approximately 1,900 entries from all over the U.K and also records concealed shoe finds in North America, Canada, and a number of countries in Europe including France, Spain and Poland.
They note:
  • The shoes are always worn out.
  • Very often there is only one shoe.
  • Many of the shoes are for children.
  • The shoes were often put in place when building work was being done to the house.
  • It may be that if the workmen found a shoe they replaced it with a new offering, or put the old shoe back together with a new one?
  • No one knows when and how this habit began.
  • The earliest shoes we know of were put in place about 1500.
Embedded image from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, via the Washington Post.

Addendum:  a tip of the blogging hat to reader "another phil" for providing the link to this comprehensive review of the subject.


  1. My first thought was that of the cave in the United States where hundreds of Native American shoes/sandals of children had been tossed. Why does discarded footwear hold so much meaning to different groups of people? http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/hundreds-ancient-children-shoes-found-utah-cave-0112233

  2. I wish for an explanation why I often see only one shoe on the roadway.

  3. Wikipedia link

    1. I hadn't thought to look there. Thanks, former lawyer.

  4. Hi,
    Backstory to your link here; http://www.apotropaios.co.uk/concealed-shoes---an-article-by-june-swann.html

    It's interesting how quickly the origins of folklore/superstition become unknown.
    Shoes represent the owners more than other items of clothing I guess, lots of pictures on Flickr of 'lost shoe' - I've taken a few over the years - a feeling of pathos maybe?
    cheers another phil

    1. Oh, wow. Thanks for that link, which I've added to the body of the post.


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