LONDON — He died with his boots on, and 500 years later, he’s still wearing them.
Archaeologists in London found a skeleton in the Thames they believe is at least 500 years old, and the man's thigh-high leather boots were still intact and attached, ITV reported.
The skeleton was found face-down in the muddy river at a site in Bermondsey, where engineers are constructing the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the Evening Standard reported.
"It's extremely rare to find any boots from the late 15th century, let alone a skeleton still wearing them," Beth Richardson of the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), told National Geographic. "And these are very unusual boots for the period -- thigh boots, with the tops turned down. They would have been expensive, and how this man came to own them is a mystery. Were they secondhand? Did he steal them? We don't know."
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The boots were reinforced with extra soles and stuffed with material to either make them warmer or improve their fit, ITV reported.
Researchers at MOLA Headland believe the man may have made his living from the river and could have died in an accident, the television station reported. Grooves on the man's teeth also suggest he worked near the water, as it's possible he was passing rope between his teeth, researchers told the Evening Standard.
The position of the skeleton -- with his arm above his head -- also suggests he might have fallen, researchers told the newspaper.
“These clues could suggest that he fell or drowned and was covered quickly by the ground as it moved with the tide,” a MOLA Headland official told the newspaper. “Our osteological experts have not identified evidence of any injuries at the time of death or a cause of death.”
In the 15th and 16th centuries, this area of the Thames -- located about 2 miles downstream from the Tower of London -- contained many wharves and warehouses, National Geographic reported. The Bermondsey Wall, a 15-foot earthwork, protected residents and property from tidal surges, the magazine reported.
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