Construction workers installing cables at the Senior Common Room at St John’s College in Cambridge discovered a 300-year-old shoe within a wall. The object was positioned between the chimney breast and the window. Cambridge Archaeological Unit experts suspect that the item served a protective role for the master of the College.
The artefact is a left shoe, well torn, with a hole in the heel, around UK size 6 (European 39). The building, originally being the private residence of its master, was built between 1598 and 1602, but the shoe was probably put in its place between the end of the 17th cent., and half of the 18th, during changes to the interior. Superstitious people might have put the shoe in its place to protect the living, and prevent malevolent spirits from entering – a well testified practice of that times. Shoes were most common object of choice hidden in walls, roofs and beneath floors for repelling evil spirits but more gruesome finds included dead cats, horses’ skulls, and bottles filled with urine or hair, called “witch bottles”. The shoe is said to be placed back inside the wall within a time capsule after the scheduled works are completed.
(after Cambridge News)