Monday, 1 July 2013

Midnight Mudlarking

A midnight mudlark -  Richard gave us the idea as we left the foreshore last Sunday and he was right the tides were super low at night an amazing 0.1m. I was ridiculously excited as the bus trundled down to the Thames. I loved the madness of it. Met up with London Mudlark of facebook fame and we made our way down to the shore. 

I had visions of torch lit mudlarkers scouring large stretches of river bed that the Thames usually hides. But surprise surprise we were the only ones daft enough to go down there.

The contrast between the smooth bricked modern city above and the rubble and wooden stumps of its past where we scrabble about was somehow heightened in the dusky light. Later the shore was bathed in city neon so navigating our way was easy. 

Head torches and bike lights lit up circles of shore for us to examine. Low tide came and went and still I'd hardly found a thing. It was only after midnight that my luck turned and I glimpsed a few pieces of choice pottery. But find of the day must be this small bit of flint.  I have no idea how old these human workings are or what they were for, I hope  the Museum of London will be able to help me out. 

Mudlarking Find:  Flint Fossil
Or are they as Jim suggests below part of a sea urchin fossil? 
Sea Urchin Fossil (tesswyatt.blogspot
This time I've had very little luck in identifying my finds on the net. I doubt this first one is very old,  possibly Victorian. Once I see design in relief it's in my bag. 

Mudlarking Find: Cream pottery with brown glaze and relief flowers
Rather confused by this next piece. I presume it's a pot rim with the remains of handle protruding, possibly from a skillet. Quite well made with spots of green glaze. What confused us was the indentation  on the inside, which made us wonder whether it fed a spout. If it had a function was it to release steam into the handle? 

Mudlarking Find, pot rim with handle possibly from 16th C. 
Skillet 16th Century Ashmolean Museum Oxford 
Lastly a bit of delft with a thin line drawing, I suspect from a delft tile.

Mudlarking Find: Possible piece of delft tile 18th C. 

London Delft Tile circa 1750 (Martyn Edgell) 
Half way through I took a break from mudlarking and walked a long way along the shore, as far as I could go  to  try and capture the speed of the tide going out. The reflected lights distract from the rip of the tide somewhat, but you can catch it if you look carefully. 

and then the red moon rising south of Tower Bridge, as party boat after party boat passed by with drunken Londoners shouting and singing their hearts out.  


  1. I've enjoyed your night time mudlarking posts - it sounds like a very different experience! The groove & dot markings on the worked flint look to me like part of a sea urchin fossil.

  2. Don't think it's a fossil as you can just see that the lines have been chiselled out, of course the flint might not have come from London, perhaps it was among stones which ships used as ballast and as such could have come from anywhere!Julia

  3. Ok. The lines struck me as similar & flint would be very hard to chisel. Not sure if links work in comments, but I'll try...

    1. Thanks, I now see what you mean, I'll update the post.

  4. The outer white covering would not be to hard to "drill" into.
    It looks like 4 lines of dots have been done and then 2 of
    the lines of dots have been joined up with a "chisel" to
    create 2 lines, so that you have got alternating dots and lines.