Roman child’s footprints discovered in northern England

Every now and then an archaeological discovery makes me realize just how much we have in common with our ancestors.

Just this morning I was telling my son to keep out of the mud. I didn’t want his shoes to get dirty, you see, and didn’t give much thought to the footprints he left behind.

Two thousand years ago in Roman Britain a child was hopping or skipping beside the road. Archaeologists working in Yorkshire found the kid’s footprints–a right one followed by two left prints–during an excavation in 2009. They’ve only now been made public. Sadly, the archaeologists weren’t able to preserve the prints, but were at least able to photograph these ghostly traces of the past.

The spot was the location of an old stream near Healam Bridge Roman fort, which some researchers believe may have been the home of the mysterious “lost” Ninth Legion, which vanished without a trace from Roman records after 117 AD. In addition to the footprints, archaeologists found an industrial estate that supported the fort, where they uncovered the foundations of buildings, a millstone, pottery, glass, coins, and even the skeleton of a sacrificed horse placed under the foundations of a building for good luck. They also found evidence that the Romans wore socks with their sandals.

The dig was sponsored by the Highways Agency, which has posted photos of some of the finds on their Flickr site.

[Images courtesy of Northern Archaeological Associates Ltd]