THAMES MUDLARKING PROJECT

Kate Davis reports on her project, which relates to a group venture about mudlarking on the foreshore of the River Thames, near the OXO tower in London.

Most of the items found were affected by being in the water and gritty sand for some time.
They included a variety of materials such as metals, wires, nails, building ceramics;  and domestic pottery, shells, oyster shells, stone, flint stones, pitch, fishermen’s implements, bones, and the plastic detritus of modern day.

However, with some imagination the findings can be related to the lives of Londoners of the past. Over the centuries artefacts have been lost in one way or another, then eventually found by someone scouring the the tidal mud.

Relics from Anglo Saxon, Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, Victorian times and through the century up to the present day. Evidence of these can be researched at the
Museum of London, the Museum of London Docklands and the British Museum.

How did these pieces relate to the owner?
What part in someone’s life did they play?

When was this part of a roof tile made?
Where was it made?
Who bought this roof tile?
Who placed it in position on the roof?

Handling my finds from the river reminded me of my collection of pottery shards found when digging in a garden in North Buckinghamshire. These pieces were also part of peoples’ lives, as those in the Thames, and they also were found by chance and could have been buried in the ground for evermore.

The connection of the past draws one in and makes one more aware of previous generations. The finds have tactile qualities and represent design styles common at certain  times in history.