Beachcombing the River Thames in London
is known as 'mudlarking'

In the 18th and 19th centuries,
impoverished boys and girls aged 8 to 15
scavenged the river's mud at low tide 
in search of treasures to sell

It was a dirty and unsafe job,
as the river was a receptacle for raw sewage 
and dumping ground for the city's rubbish

Today it is a bit of a gold mine for seeing into the past

Led by Fiona, a local expert archaeologist,
a group of us collected a few things along the bank
we thought might be of interest

We showed her our loot,
and in a nonplussed way she told us much of it dated
to Victorian times or earlier

Once she showed us what to look for,
we saw Victorian roof tiles scattered on the bank
as well as old yellow bricks

Clay tiles with grey streaks were Victorian
Solid red tiles could be dated to Tudor times

And if tiles showed signs of being burned, 
they could be from the Great Fire of London in 1666
(as they threw everything into the river to clean up after the fire)

And yes, that's a bone

We found glass waste from a factory that
operated nearby from 1700s - 1800s

Pottery known as 'tin-glazed ware'
would have been discarded
from kilns located on the shore 
between 15th and 17th centuries

Clay pipes were like cigarette butts of the time,
popular by smokers between 1580 and 1930
We saw these everywhere

Clay pipes and a very old shard of tin-glazed ware (the piece with one blue stripe)

The plentiful metal nails and scrap were from the shipyard
that once stood where we searched 
(late 1600s - late 1800s)
Clearly they were handmade and did not look uniform in shape

The most important discovery of the day
was a piece of coral found by someone in our group
- Fiona asked if she could take it to the Zoo as they are piecing together
what types of coral lived in the river -

Although you could mudlark on your own,
you wouldn't know what you were seeing
so I would highly recommend giving it a go with Fiona
- great for all ages -

We were thrilled with our success
and thankful the bank was pebbly and mud-free

I'll never look at the Thames the same :)

- photos by me -

Mudlarking via London Walks
(a nonsponsored post)