The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology

2013 Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture

The SPMA's third annual Geoff Egan Memorial Lecture 'Taking up the glove: Finds, uses and meanings of gloves, mittens and gauntlets in Western Europe, c.1400-1700 AD' was given by Annemarieke Willemsen of the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, on 18th December 2013 at the Museum of London.


Late-medieval and early-modern people wore gloves, mittens and gauntlets for protection and decoration in many different contexts. They were made for men, women, and children: for workers, hawkers, fighters, preachers and lovers. They exist in wool, textiles, metals and leather, made to fit and sometimes lavishly decorated. Gloves get lost easily, causing a number of ‘hand shoes’ to be recovered from excavations, especially in airtight circumstances. There were rules for when to wear gloves, and when to take them off. They made suitable gifts and appear often as fashionable items in portraits. In this lecture, Annemarieke Willemsen will be taking up the glove and presenting new research into the archaeology, iconography and symbolism of anything covering people’s hands in the late- and post-medieval period.