Mudlarking along the Thames foreshore

I confess I am a rock hound. I can’t walk by rivers or oceans without picking up pretty stones.  When I found myself walking along the river Thames, I was forced to use the wet, mossy steps that lead down to the water. Since the Thames has seven meter tides, it’s a long way down.   Anyhoo, it’s a treasure trove of very cool finds and mudlarkers are plenty.  Here are some results of about seven hours of my own mudlarking activities.  These are the more interesting or unique finds.   

First, I found a lot of cigarette butts. Hundreds of years ago, people used to buy tobacco filled pipes and literally throw them away after a few uses. That led to thousands of pipes being dumped into the river, many to be washed back ashore in bits and pieces.  It is possible to date by looking at:

  • The size of the bowl – smaller bowls date from when tobacco was more expensive, these are the oldest pipes
  • The shape of the bowl – bulbous are older
  • The shape of the heel (the nubbie that the pipe rests on)
  • The size of the stem hole – larger holes are older

These pipes date from around the 1700s, so three hundred years old. These are the best condition and have complete unchipped bowls. 



 These bowls are the oldest in the bunch. Four hundred years ago, a regular person wandering randomly around London finished his pipe and tossed it in the river. His trash is my oldest treasure.   

Here is another interesting find. You can see a printing of leaves along the bowl. I didn’t notice that unless I’d washed the mud off. 
These broken pieces aren’t special except that you can see the makers marks on them. One of them has only dots for marks.    
  Depending on where you are, the foreshore is littered with pipe stems. The fifteen centimetre stem is the longest I’ve seen although a brand new pipe might have a stem as long as fifty centimetres. I found some very thin and curved stems which would be near the mouth end.  
  This is a delightful accidental find! I thought I was simple picking up another piece of pipe and put it in my bag without inspecting it. Turns out, it’s half of a hair curler. Heat it up, wrap your hair round it, and voila! 
  This is a makers stamp on the end of the hair curler.  
  These are simply pretty bits of pottery. I’ve no idea what how old any of them are.  


6 responses

  1. […] I confess I am a rock hound. I can not stroll by rivers or oceans without having choosing up rather stones.  When I identified myself going for walks alongside the river Thames, I was compelled to use the damp, mossy actions that lead down to the drinking water. Because the Thames has 7 meter tides, it’s a prolonged way down. […] Resource website link […]

  2. Nice of you to show us your collection!

  3. Annie did you do this on your own or go with a “tour” group? Looks like lots of fun!

    1. On my own. Prepare to get dirty 🙂

  4. Nice piece!

    Sent from my iPad. C

    1. Thanks. Tons of fun!

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