Hobnail Boot

Hobnail Boot
Durable footwear, work-wear, military, patterned nails, leather soles, iron heels, iron toes
This is an image of some hobnail bots which can be found at the Museum of East Anglian Life, please see the stories so far below for more information.
Leather hobnail boots were originally made as sturdy pairs of work or traveling boots, common to the middle and lower classes in Victorian England. As such the boots were worn in folk dances, such as the Morris dances and Molly dances that evolved from the country dance customs of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, during the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign. A hobnail is a short nail with a thick head used to increase the durability of a boot’s sole and tends to be installed in a regular pattern. As well as being used as work-wear, they were also adopted by the military in World War I and subsequently gained notoriety in World War II as the standard footwear of German troops, which when combined with their distinctive goose-step march upon cobblestones, left a lasting impression when entering the occupied villages of Europe. Today, there is s resurgence of such footwear, although the materials used for the upper linings are somewhat kinder on today's feet than simply worked leather. As for the dances, well they’re still going strong across the region – maybe you’d like to learn one?

Stories posted so far...

Posted by The Museum of East Anglian Life
Rugged and well suited for rough terrain, hobnail boots were the normal form of footwear for farm workers in the East of England right up until the second half of the twentieth century. A hobnail is a short nail with a rounded head. Hobnail boots have these nails inserted into the soles with the rounded heads exposed, providing traction on uneven or mushy terrain. Caligae, the footwear worn by Roman soldiers, may be the earliest form of hobnail boot, although the use of the term hobnail was not recorded until the 16th century. Nowadays, hobnail boots have been replaced by lighter footwear, yet the heavy, noisy boots are still worn by Molly Dancers in the region - a form of Morris dancer.
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