Growing Wheat and Iron Age Shoes

The Ancient Technology Centre is doing a fortnight long project with a school over the next couple of weeks which will be carried out in Iron Age costume.

I guess most of the staff and me (I’m volunteering for a few days during the next fortnight) have pretty good Viking age kit, but none of us really have 1st century Iron Age, so Friday saw us making Iron Age shoes and Kate has been sewing peplums and tunics this weekend.

Iron Age shoes are made from a single piece of leather cleverly cut so that it can be laced around the foot. After making them I tried out mine and boy were they cold, especially on the cold ground, even with inauthentic socks on. This didn’t bode well for two weeks of roundhouse building… So I’ve been researching Iron Age foot insulation, and there is actually, contrary to common belief, a couple of finds of shoes containing woolen cloth or wool fibres, although most are stuffed with dry grass. So to be authentic we bought some meadow hay for pet bunnies from the supermarket and actually it really works, it is a little scratchy but it is certainly warm, far warmer than even two pairs of socks. I’ll let you know how it works out after a day of working in grassy shoes, and I’ll try to post some pictures of the full kit at some point.

In other news we’ve decided to grow some wheat, maybe a row here to see how it handles the soil conditions and some more at the ATC where they have grown it before and we know it can work. If you fancy doing the same here are a few helpful links:

Click to access plant_wheat_teachers.pdf

Between the three websites above there is enough information to have a go. Apparently the average family (whatever that is) needs 60 lbs of grain per year which can be grown on a 20 foot by 50 foot plot. Seems like a lot of space but then again its not impossible.

I’d like to try oats too, but wheat is kind of iconic so we’ll try that first. Here’s an oaty page in case you are interested!


  1. Just catching up on blogs and stuff…. thr thought struck me.. how much wheat does it take to make loaf of bread, what sort of square metreage does it take to make a bun. I grew some wheat gleaned from the edge of the fields locally but never really got a satisfactory answer… another year perhaps

  2. Corwen said:

    as far as I can find out it takes about 3 square yards of wheat to make a loaf of bread. But that’s a substantial 1lb loaf, not a supermarket air bag!

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