The archaelogists have been exploring Sherford valley and what was here in the past. This shoe was just one of the artefacts that helps us learn more about the past.
The Sherford Shoe
Sherford Vale is a brand new school – it is being built in 2017. Try and imagine the school that your parents went to, or your grandparents. What was it like and what did they learn there?
What did Sherford look like a hundred years ago, in the year 1917? What was here thousands of years ago. Were there houses back then, roads, fields and farms? Where have they gone?
How did families make their living in the past, and what did the children do? What were their homes like? What type of food did they eat, and what clothes did they wear? Were they like us?
To understand who we are today we have to know something about our past. One important way of finding out about the past is through archaeology, which means ‘the study of old things’.
Before this new school and all the new houses were built, archaeologists carried out excavations on the site to find the remains of things that time has buried in the ground.
These ‘digs’ showed that people have lived and worked here, and were buried here, for over 4000 years. The earliest remains are prehistoric – before people in Britain knew how to read and write. Later, this part of Devon was on the edge of the powerful Roman Empire. The old village of Sherford dates from the Middle Ages – or ‘medieval period’.
The archaeologists working at Sherford found the remains of houses, trackways, fields, rubbish pits and ovens. They found pottery, and tools made of stone, metal and bone. They found food waste, in the form of animal bones and plant remains.
Among the earliest finds were two burial mounds dating to the Bronze Age (before people knew how to make iron). These ‘barrows’ remained important features in the landscape, and thousands of years later people were still being buried next to them, during the Roman period.
So how different were people in the past? In one of the Roman graves the traces were found of a very familiar object – a shoe. Although the leather had decayed, the metal studs, or ‘hobnails’, in the sole of the shoe had survived, revealing its easily recognisable shape.
Do you have a favourite pair of shoes? This person clearly did, and their friends and relatives made sure that they were buried in the grave too.
When we study the past, through history and archaeology, or even by asking our parents and grandparents about their memories, we find that in some ways people were very different from us today, but in other ways very much like us.