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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Pilgrim Shoes and Pilgrim Lore

What the pilgrims did with their shoes was mysterious! Often times pilgrims placed shoes with in the walls of their homes. Why?

Historians believe shoes were placed within walls, under the floors and within chimneys of the house to ward off evil spirits and ensure good luck to the occupants. Concealing shoes is an age-old custom, undertaken in secrecy, and so shrouded in silence that historians were not even aware of it until the middle of this century.

Its origins date from pagan customs of death and sacrifice, and while contemporary man might laugh at the thought of a shoe warding off evil, there are rare incidents of people hiding shoes in walls today.

June Swann, a British historian, has been documenting cases of concealed shoes since the late 1950's; and she has come across about 1,600 shoes in England, United States, Australia, Russia, Turkey, and China. She attended the annual meeting of the Honourable Cordwainers Company at Plimoth Plantation in late October, and she told her story:

Rusty Moore, master shoemaker at Plimoth Plantation, said the custom of placing shoes in the walls date from the Middle Ages and was a family tradition. Historians have also concluded the custom is an outgrowth of the earlier practice of sacrificing animals or infants within a new building as a sort of blessing. But why shoes? Because the leather is the skin of an animal. "Shoes", said Moore, "were valuable in the olden days; folks could only afford one pair at a time. Those found are usually worn completely away."

"A Tale of Shoes by Robert William III pub. Nutmeg Gratings, Connecticut 4/18/98 pub. Mayflower Newsletter, Utah 5/1998"

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

2 Broken Heels:

Joann said...


Anonymous said...

I know some things sound odd to us but I think those people knew what they were doing. Maybe if we used some of their techniques now things would be better.