The patten as a type of protective footwear dates back at least to Roman times. They have been worn mainly for the practical purpose of protecting shoes and feet coming into contact with mud, puddles, or street rubbish, but have also been fashion items when made in more sumptuous materials.
This particular pair are of the later type with a wooden sole mounted above a metal ring, the whole thing worn over a pair of shoes and keeping the wearer's feet about an inch above the ground: this pair of pattens probably dates from 1780-1810, but the earliest printed mention of this type with the metal ring beneath is in 1575. The squared toe is not necessarily an indication of the toe shape of the shoes with which they were worn: pattens for general wear were almost always made in a squared or rounded shape for strength, as pointed toes would have been prone to snap. Pattens continued to be widely worn until the earlier decades of the nineteenth century, particularly in the country, where improvements to roads took longer to effect.
Pattens for children are quite rare survivals, and some of the smallest pairs are apparently models. The obviously genuine wear which has occurred to this pair indicates that they really would have been worn by a child.