They were the Jimmy Choos of their day.
Known as poulaines, pointy leather shoes were the height of fashion in 14th century Britain. Medieval men and women about town, however, suffered for their fancy footwear: They got bunions.
The painful condition is common today, especially among women. Paleopathologist Jenna Dittmar was surprised to find evidence of bunions, more formally known as Hallux valgus, among the skeletal remains she was investigating for a wider project on life experience in the medieval period.
“You get degenerative changes in the bones of the feet. There’s very clear osteological signs that the toes were pushed laterally. And there’s basically holes in the bone suggesting that the ligaments were pulling away. It looks painful to look at the bone,” said Dittmar, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, who was at the University of Cambridge while she conducted the research.
A bunion forms when the big toe becomes angled and a bony protrusion forms on the…