Mudlarking on the Thames
So many novels and movies have been set in England around the historical River Thames, particularly in London. The waterway has been used for centuries by merchant ships and barges, influencing commercial pursuits and the location of important buildings and villages that were settled by the Thames. All of these activities have contributed to the contents in the water and the River’s mystery. Because of pollution the Thames is anaerobic - meaning, no oxygen. Items from centuries past, dropped or somehow left in the Thames, have been well preserved in the mud. Every day as the tide goes out a new bounty is revealed on the foreshore of the river.
I often went to the Thames when I lived in London, mostly for walks during lunch at work or taking a water taxi to Hampton Court Palace with my son! During my last trip to London I spent a day on the Thames foreshore under Tower Bridge looking for pieces from the past - this practice is known as mudlarking. When holding a pottery shard, or piece of clay pipe, the sense of history was palpable. I imagined the Roman artisan who created the ceramic bowl or the spice trader who smoked the 17th century pipe. The river holds many beautiful secrets. I have collected items which I have used in mosaics and some of which I will keep when I have a yearning to visit the Thames. Do you collect treasures from the water?
Kathryn Spooner Bossy
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