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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Romans' crimes of fashion revealed
The remains from a bronze foot unearthed at a major archaeological dig on show at the Museum of London
Most Roman feet are shown in statues wearing leather sandals
Despite conquering the known world, it seems the Romans had a very different idea of what constituted sartorial chic.

Evidence for what, by modern standards, would be considered a lack of style has been uncovered at a major archaeological dig in south London, where a foot from a bronze statue appears to be adorned with both socks and sandals.

The discovery was made during the excavation of a three-acre Romano-Celtic temple complex at Tabard Square in Southwark.

Last month, a 2,000-year-old pot of cream, with its contents still intact, was found at the site.

Though there is some documentary evidence for Britons wearing socks with their sandals, this is the first physical evidence
Nansi Rosenberg
The latest find, while of important historical significance, has done little to improve the Romans' standing as a great civilisation.

"It's embarrassing for them," said Nansi Rosenberg, senior archaeological consultant at EC Harris, which is managing the excavation.

"I would think their excuse would be the cold. We know from the writings of Tacitus that the weather in Britain was terrible.

"The foot is wearing a Mediterranean-type sandal, but the garment with it may have been some kind of woollen stocking.

"It is certainly an interesting find - this is only the second example of a foot found from a Roman statue in Britain, and though there is some documentary evidence for Britons wearing socks with their sandals this is the first physical evidence."

The foot may have belonged to a statue of the god Mars Camulos who was worshipped in northern France and Britain.

Inscriptions of the god's name have been found elsewhere on the temple site.

Another possibility is that the foot has come from a statue of an emperor.

Whoever the sock-wearer turns out to be, poor dress sense can now be added to the list of things the Romans gave to the world.

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