At low tide, the River Thames becomes the largest open air archaeological site in London, and with every tide, all sorts of odds and ends get washed up on the shore.
In fact, the Thames foreshore is littered with fragments London’s history and you can find them – if you know where to look. This weekend, DigVentures lead a lucky group of Dirty Weekenders down to the foreshore with Steve ‘Mud God’ Brooker to see what the tide had washed up…
The Dirty Weekenders gathered bright and early to catch the archaeological worm: the Thames at low tide
Heading down to the foreshore was slippery…
As soon as we got there, Steve ‘Mud God’ Brooker explained the basics
Like the concept of ‘finds lines’
And keeping a close watch on the tide
And the fact that you really need to know what you’re looking for in order to spot things
Can you see it?
How about this one?
Soon, everyone is having a go and it’s not long before they’ve got their eye in
Like Karen from Canada…
And Debbie from London…
And Doug from Spain…
And Ruth from Scotland…
Soon, we’re finding things all over the place
Like this coin from the time of George III
This piece of 16th century salt-glazed pot, which was used for beer (and witchcraft!)
And this cannonball (whose name is too rude for us to publish)…
Then there’s this 17th century halfpenny trader’s token, on which you can still make out the words ‘BEARE YARD – GREENWICH’
And even these teeny weeny Tudor pins that were used to keep clothes and hair in place (and were bent and added to ‘witch bottles’ to cause pain to witches)
When the tide starts coming in, we head to a nearby pub to examine our discoveries with Finds Liaison Officer Kate
Over the years, the Thames has washed up all sorts of odds and ends, and each has their own story to tell, like this Church Warden Pipe (so-called because it was long enough that church wardens could keep an eye on things without their view being obscured by a cloud of smoke)
And this ‘muff pistol’ (so-called because they were small enough for 19th century ladies to keep in their pockets…)
And this gorgeous pipe bowl in the shape of an exquisitely dressed lady (we don’t know if she’s got a pistol in there)
And this rather dark keepsake from a 17th century hanging
Together, we collected a range of London’s pottery spanning over 400 years
And lots and lots of other artefacts too… how many do you recognise?
By the looks of it, the Dirty Weekenders had an absolute blast!
So much so that Debbie even sent us this to say…
We can’t wait to see what we find on our next Dirty Weekend!
Always wanted to try archaeology?
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Support one of our digs and you can choose to watch our discoveries as they happen, or roll up your sleeves and excavate alongside our team!