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People in the Middle Ages were fashion conscious too

 People in the Middle Ages were fashion conscious too
Shoes, purses, fabric, toys… Central material in the Academy of Finland funded research project “From village into town” was findings at the excavations at the Åbo Akademi site of the Turku Provincial Museum. The research project, launched in 2001, determined the changes in the communal life of 13th century Turku when the city became the centre of South-western Finland. On the basis of the findings, researchers have found out more on medieval trade, living and building and environmental history. Researchers have, among other things, collected information on footwear and toys.
Footwear is the most common leather finding in city excavations. Over 600 medieval shoes were found at the excavations on the Åbo Akademi site in 1998. Shoes have endured humidity and remained for future generations to study because footwear has been hardened by plant husk and bark. In the middle ages shoes wore out much faster than today, therefore a person of the middle ages wore out several pairs of shoes a year.
Findings show different kinds of footwear. The earliest shoe type is one that is laced around the ankle or leg. Such shoes, as well as strap shoes, were worn in Turku at the end of the 13th century. At the end of the 14th century side laced and front-laced shoes were seen in the streets. In the Middle Ages shoes made from one piece of leather were also still common. Wooden protective footwear, ‘pattens’, protected the feet from the cold and damp dirt roads. The decorated leather straps of pattens suggest an upper-class fashion trend. Fashion conscious persons in the late 14th and 15th century wore long toed shoes. Shoes could also be dyed and embroidered.
Mended shoes found in excavations prove that the cobbler often repaired old shoes to be sold to citizens of limited means. Signs of wear and tear also reveal the different foot ailments people suffered from.

Toy findings tell about children’s culture
There are 50 archaeological toy findings made in Turku, of which 29 are from the Middle Ages. Examples of these toys are wooden dolls and copies of weapons and tools. Miniature earthenware is believed to be imported but otherwise adults or children themselves made toys.
Toys tell us about the way adults viewed children and childhood. Among the findings there were toys acquired by adults, therefore it can be stated that adults invested in the well being of their children. Children had the right to free time and play beside work and learning. Through toys values were passed on to the following generations. Based on the toy findings made in Turku, it can be said that children actively shaped their material culture. They created their own reality, which reflects the surrounding world. Toys in the Middle Ages were, as well as toys today, closely connected to the culture and surroundings of their time.