Viking footwear. Historical view.
The finds of the Viking Age have been preserved in good condition and there are quite a lot of them. The most famous finds are from Haithabu, the largest Viking city in Denmark, and from Birka. Equally well-known and important are the popular early medieval thong-button shoes from York or Viborg shoes from Denmark. We also know Borgund Viking footwear from Norway, shoes from Dorestad, a medieval port at the mouth of the Rhine in the Netherlands, and shoes from Lund in Sweden.
An even greater number of early medieval shoes have been found in the lands of the Slavs. Finds from Viperrow, Opole, Gdańsk, Wolin, or further east Novgorod and Stara Ladoga. They indicate that in the Viking Age we also have a division into east and west.
Noteworthy are the shoes from Opole. Very richly embroidered. Several large fragments of uppers and hundreds of smaller pieces of leather were found in various settlement layers. The high boots from Novgorod are also very characteristic. Their dating is determined to the 11th century, although in the tables in publications they appear with the 11th-13th century.
Making Viking footwear. At one time.
How were shoes made in the early Middle Ages? We have at our disposal a huge number of artefacts from the then shoemakers’ factories. Iron needles were used to sew shoes. It was also known to use extremely hard boar hair to make shoes.
The shoes were sewn with twisted linen thread, the so-called twine. Beeswax, so popular in the Middle Ages not only for leather care, was used for easier sewing and sealing seams.
What skins were used? Generally, goat, horse and bovine skins and skins of game animals such as deer were used. The leathers of other animal species were also occasionally used. The thickness of the skins depended on the application of the skin.
Goatskin, thin and strong, probably used for more refined use. And soles were certainly made of horsehide. The then shoemaker in the shoemaker’s workshop used cutting knives and awls to prepare the holes.
I am not aware of any finds of patterns, but my guess is that every respectable shoemaker’s shop had patterns. Possibly wooden or leather made of rigid tanned leather. After selecting the leather, the shoemaker could start making the footwear.
Wooden hooves dating back to the 10th century have been found. It is also believed that before the 10th century, shoes were sewn universally, meaning that there was no distinction between left and right shoes. We cannot imagine it today. But that was the reality. The sewing itself was made with a straight or tunnel seam, depending on the place of sewing. The shoe was sewn on the left side and pulled out after sewing, hence the name turned shoes.
Making early medieval shoes. Today.
I have over 20 years of experience in making medieval footwear. Hundreds of shoes made prove the popularity of my products and the quality of footwear.
I make Viking footwear using medieval methods, I use cowhide with a thickness of 3-3.5 mm, which guarantees long durability. I use the highest quality, grain, natural leather. This means that the face of the leather is not covered with any paint or retouched. Natural discolorations and unevenness only add an authentic look to the finished products.
I make quite small holes in the leather, which makes sewing very difficult. However, it is undoubtedly an asset for the customer when he uses shoes on rainy days because thanks to this we get relative waterproofness.
I achieve extraordinary durability of shoes because I do not take the easy way out. I do hard work so that the shoes will serve you for a long time. I don’t care for the philosophy of programmable quality :). For durability, after turning over the sewn shoes, I add a thick and stiff sole, thanks to which you get an 8mm thick layer of leather insulating your foot from the ground.
I create shoe patterns from experience. I have been participating in historical events for over 20 years. Contact with customers is used to constantly improve shoes for you, modern Vikings, Slavs, or lovers of the Middle Ages, LARP and COSPLAY.
How to care for early medieval shoes? The use and durability of shoes from WOJMIR.
The method of production, care for durability and, above all, the preservation of medieval sewing techniques mean that newly sewn shoes may be less comfortable at the beginning of use than the shoes you wear every day. To minimize this feeling, I add felt inserts to each pair of shoes purchased, which make you fully comfortable to use.
However, it is certain that used shoes will quickly become very comfortable. They are often used even after historical events by slightly more extravagant reenactors.
What should you do after buying shoes? The answer is: put on, go to a historical event and have fun! But remember… During a rainy Viking market when you’re soaked and want to dry off quickly, DO NOT PUT YOUR SHOES INTO THE FIRE. Leather does not like quick drying. Impregnate yourself “
Wojmir Sp. z o.o.
Pelagii Kwapulińskiej 19,
41-707 Ruda Śląska
T: (+48) 696 611 475
Do you want to find out how to order from Wojmir and what are our rules - please read the Regulations.
how to take measures
Your size matters! Correctly collected dimensions are the key to the perfect product. To achieve this, I have prepared detailed dimensioning descriptions with illustrations.