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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Roman conquerors had woolly socks
Roman foot
The artefact was found near Darlington
The sartorial elegance of the Italians has been shattered, with news that woolly socks helped their ancestors' conquest of northern England.

The evidence has emerged among archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington in County Durham.

Among the items was an unusual Roman razor handle, made of copper alloy and in the shape of a human leg and foot.

The 5cm high foot is wearing a sandal with a thick woollen sock underneath.

According to Philippa Walton, a finds liaison officer at Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities, the Romans may well have been putting comfort before style.

She said: "It is quite funny really that the soldiers were wearing these thick woolly socks.

"It could have been the fashion for a Roman soldier or it could have been because of the tough northern cold."

Ms Walton said that other discoveries from the period also appear to prove that style was the last thing on a Roman's mind or foot while on duty in the North East.

"There was a letter found at the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian's Wall, from a soldier writing home asking for more socks," she said.

"This may suggest the soldiers were more concerned about keeping out the cold."

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06 Nov 03 |  Hereford/Worcs

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