Documenting Roman leather from Camelon, Scotland

by Mareille Arkesteijn

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Roman; Leather; Shoe; Camelon; Scotland; Roman fort; Antonine Wall
Record ID: 1251257
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/31693


Abstract In 2011 an excavation in Camelon near Falkirk in Scotland revealed a large amount of leather artefacts, primarily shoes. After their conservation treatment these artefacts were brought to Leiden University for further research. It was claimed that the find was unique because of its large quantity, good quality, sharp dating and well described find location. For this reason and the fact that leather artefacts can provide a lot of information about the people that lived in the past and could actually make major contributions in answering certain archaeological questions, the leather artefacts had to be documented well and extensively. But how to convert these objects into clear information? Because there was no standard approach of how to document complete archaeological leather, an approach had to be devised to document the Camelon find. There were two requirements the approach had to meet. Firstly, it had to display the information the leather artefacts possessed in a clear way and secondly, the results had to be suitable for comparison to other leather artefacts. While creating an approach for the Camelon leather, the idea emerged that this approach could actually serve as a standard approach for documenting all leather finds. Because when the approach is suitable for an unique find such as the Camelon leather, it must suitable for other leather finds as well. To investigate the uniqueness of the Camelon leather and to test the newly created approach for its desired requirements and its suitability as future standard approach, the results were compared to the records of three other but quite similar sites that were documented in previous years. The results of this comparison show that the requirements indeed have been met. The approach displays the information in a clear way and at the same time the results are easy comparable to other leather artefacts. It has also been found that the Camelon leather is an unique find. The other sites show similar quantities and good quality artefacts but not all sites have clearly described find locations or a good dating like the Camelon find has. When the suitability to serve as standard approach is subsequently investigated, it becomes clear that the approach created to document the Camelon leather is indeed very suitable. Modern techniques such as scanning machines and digital photography, make the approach that is created to document the Camelon leather favourable over the other approaches. The approach is actually more extended than the other approaches because of additional scans and photographs that shows the artefact condition and helps to examine the artefacts without having to touch them every time.