Mudlarking On The River Thames

Submitted by: LordJim 4 weeks ago in Misc
"Mudlarking" is the pastime of searching the muddy banks of the Thames River for antiquities and relics.

There are 18 comments:
Male 1,575
I stand corrected, thanks squrlz and thuban for the insight! It was a very good submission btw LordJim
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Male 9,341
doiknowyou Thank you. that's kind.
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Male 1,575
LordJim The world needs
a little more kindness and sometimes I remember to do my part....that and I'm Canadian
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Male 9,498
doiknowyou You're welcome. Your skepticism was productive, as it actually got me thinking about what must be occurring with the Thames mud and the objects contained therein. I would guess that since the foreshore mud is usually under the river's waters, it occasionally gets stirred up by the tidal motions of the water. I also expect that after storms and heavy rains, the current picks up, and some of the mud, and whatever it contains, makes further progress in its slow march toward the Atlantic. Then again, you also occasionally have construction and dredging, which regularly rearrange all the mud.

My father is a retired antiques dealer and he traded in a lot of English pewter and brass. Some of it was actually recovered by mudlarkers. (You could often identify mudlarked items by a peculiar black stain from the Thames mud, something the English liked to keep on the items, but the Americans liked to polish off.) No doubt some of the mudlarkers in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when the antiques market really took off, turned a tidy profit by finding dumping spots for a lot of old 18th Century household items.
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Male 1,575
squrlz4ever There's an increase in good material lately. Good job! And good informative comment to you good sir
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Male 9,498
doiknowyou Aw thanks, man. Those kind words are a real lift. I appreciate it.
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Male 1,575
How convenient that everything just laid at  the top and nobody thought to pick them up before 
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Female 977
doiknowyou I saw another documentary on this earlier in the year. You have to keep in mind, this was the garbage dump for hundreds of years for tens of thousands of people. If you DIDN'T find something, it would be weird.
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Male 9,498
doiknowyou A bit of background information may allay your skepticism.

These items are being recovered from the mud that's briefly exposed during the river's low tide (AKA, the "foreshore"). The River Thames has been used as a dumping ground for rubbish for about 2,000 years and mudlarking is a traditional pastime that's been going on for well over a century. It's so popular that the London Port Authority issues licenses. One license allows you to scrape the surface of the mud to a depth of 7 centimeters while another license, for which there is a long waiting list, allows you to go down to a depth of about a meter.

There are a number of YouTubers who regularly post videos about mudlarking. Many of the items found are Victorian, as you'd probably expect, but occasionally they'll turn up Elizabethan or even Roman coins.
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Male 13,398
doiknowyou i must admit, i find it difficult to believe they could have found some of these things so easily.
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Male 9,341
monkwarrior I see your point but I selected this video because it was an unusually productive day. In other vids she can spend the entire session for some old clay pipes, a few coins and buttons, pins and a bottle or two. One time it was a human jaw-bone. Obviously she told the police who examined it. The couldn't date is accurately but she did some research and concluded that the most likely source(given the location) was a convict who had died on a prison hulk and been buried in shallow mud. 

Obviously I can't vouch for her personally but she strikes me as honest.
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Male 9,498
LordJim By the way, Jim, I'd become a fan of this YouTuber, Nicola White, about three months ago. I've probably watched about 15 or 20 of her videos. I'd actually been thinking of posting one of them. When I saw your submission, it was a funny "great minds think alike" moment.

As an aside, one of the things I find most interesting about her mudlarking excursions is those clay pipes. It's interesting how they can be dated by the size of the bowl. In the early years of the Columbian Exchange, when tobacco was terribly expensive, the bowl were tiny. Over the following 200 years, as the commodity became more affordable, the size of the bowls grew.

Out of curiosity, I just checked: Sir Walter Raleigh first brought tobacco to England from Virginia in 1586. There's an interesting article on the subject here.
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Male 9,341
squrlz4ever Yes, she's my favourite mudlarking YouTuber, Something about her manner; enthusiastic but calm and measured.

About eight years ago my local river broke it's banks and a couple of old trees toppled. My friend and I found a stash of Victorian bottles, about thirty unbroken and a few with the old marble in the neck stopper. I kept ten of the best and put them on windowsills to catch the light.
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Male 9,341
This isn't the one I submitted, but never mind.
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Male 9,498
LordJim Jim, can you provide the link to the one you wanted? It's my error; I'll be happy  to fix it.

UPDATE: Jim, I believe I've corrected this to the video you submitted. Let me know. Thanks.
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Male 9,341
squrlz4ever Aye, that's the one, thanks.
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