The medieval mystery of the booted man in the mud

phys.org | 12/6/2018 | Staff
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
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A mysterious male skeleton, lying face-down deep in the Thames mud, with a pair of in-situ thigh-high leather boots has been discovered by our archaeologists working on one of the sites being used to build London's super sewer in Bermondsey.

The skeleton was discovered at Tideway's Chambers Wharf site in Bermondsey, where work is currently underway to build the Thames Tideway Tunnel to stop sewage pollution in the River Thames.

Jack - Russell - Archaeology - Lead - Tideway

Jack Russell, Archaeology Lead for Tideway, said: "The Tideway archaeology programme has allowed us to gather really interesting new evidence for how Londoners have used the river throughout history. As we work towards our goal of cleaning up the Thames and reconnecting London with it, it's really important to acknowledge the lessons we can learn from significant discoveries like this."

The river was a hazardous place even in the late 15th century, so perhaps his occupation was the cause of his death and the reason he came to be discovered. Could he have been a fisherman, a mudlark or perhaps a sailor? Was he climbing the Bermondsey Wall when he fell into the water? Did he become trapped in the mud and drown? The discovery has sparked an investigation by a team of our archaeological and osteological experts who are unravelling the mystery of the booted man in the mud. So what does the evidence tell us?

Finds - Specialists - Boots - Date - Century

Our finds specialists studying the boots believe they date to the late 15th or early 16th century. Leather was expensive and often re-used at this time and experts believe it is unlikely that someone would have been buried wearing such a highly-prized item. The boots would have reached thigh height when fully extended therefore would have been ideal for walking out into the river and through the sticky Thames mud, so were perhaps waders. They were built...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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