|What we leave behind...|
It was a gloriously warm Friday morning, in the Unfinished City, as I made my way down on to the foreshore of the River Thames, just west of the MillenniuM Bridge. The tide was still receding, which allowed me to walk along the shore, below Blackfriars Bridge, to the steps in front of the OXO Restaurant Bar & Brasserie.
The foreshore, itself, was remarkably clean with little in the way of litter, making the task of finding those little pieces of history that much simpler. Within minutes I had found some smashed clay pipes, dating from between the 16-18th centuries. This was my first ever find on the foreshore, although I had looked for them on numerous occasions. There were scores of Thames Spuds (old London bricks that have been eroded and rounded by the tide), countless Iron Nails (possibly from where ships had been broken up on the foreshore), pieces of timber (possibly from the broken up ships) and an old wheel that looked as it had come from a horse-drawn carriage.
No one is certain when scavenging for items, found on the River Thames foreshore, to sell or trade became popular, but, during the 18th and 19th Centuries, many youngsters and the elderly could make quite a living from the endeavour. It was during this time that the term Mudlark was first thought to be used.
One of the reasons that people turned to Mudlarking is thought to be a lack of skills and poverty. Mudlarking was also quite often seen as a criminal activity as it was thought that many Mudlarks pilfered items from passing ships and crews, which some quite possibly did.
There are many rules concerning the use of metal detectors, digging and Mudlarking along the River Thames, many of which are listed on the link below.