In the walls, under staircases, buried under the floorboards, or in the rafters of roofs: a researcher from down is finding what he is looking for just about everywhere he looks.
And mostly what he mostly looks for are very very old baby shoes
Baby shoes, according to a recent BBC report, are amongst the most popular things that early 19th century English exiles to Australia jammed into a variety of nooks and crannies in their homes or prisons or work places.
What good could an infant’s footwear do anyone buried deep withing the hollows of a wall or somewhere else just as weird??
Well, historian Ian Evans has been hunting and collecting the well-stashed items for the past six years and according to the BBC’s interview with him: what at first seemed to be just random findings of a variety of discareded clothing items actually turned out to be “… part of the ancient practice of defeating witches and evil by placing artifacts in those parts of buildings where harmful spirits might lurk.”
So, for the past 200+ years, tiny shoes crafted for babies have been waging a silent war with the supernatural behind walls Down Under.
It’s pretty remarkable stuff given Australia’s storied history, of the many convicted English criminals exiled many thousands of miles across several seas to start a new life in a land many of them had little knowledge of at all. These settlers were people who were deathly afraid of their new surroundings. Imagine coming from a place as green, wet, and civilized as England and arriving in a hot arid dusty place populated by tribal natives and exotic wild animals.
They were beyond frightened.
They were mortified.
And because so many of the settlers feared losing their lives to the evil spirits they felt were encroaching upon them in their new homes, they continued an old English tradition of burying human clothing and shoes in hard to reach places. Using children’s clothing, especially their shoes, made special sense to them because it was believed that “the power and innocence of the young would be strong enough to defeat the evil,” according to the BBC.
Kid’s shoes were a popular weapon against evil spirits because they retained their human-esque figure much longer than say, a shirt or a hat would. Thus, they could look scarier to the scary things you were trying to scare. Got that?
In one house, Evans reports that they found twenty pairs of shoes hidden in the attic of a rural Tasmanian house.
“The people in this house were terrified,” he said.
And once again: history rules.