Sunday, 11 April 2010

Heritage Britain 2009, Part 4

Apart from a jaunt to Penrith for the RNA Conference, my trips out in July and August were short ones and usually a lot closer to home. I went mudlarking in the Thames at the Tower of London. Normally to do this, you have to get a permit, but this particular event was part of the annual Festival of British Archaeology Week. Necessary equipment on this occasion was a pair of plastic gloves and a plastic bag to put your finds in which, at the end of your stint on the shoreline, you could have examined and explained by an expert. The stems and bowls of clay pipes were common, as were pieces of bellamine jugs and other pottery, some of it several centuries old. Fascinating. I wonder if mudlarking will be on the menu this July?

Coombe Conduit is open to the public just once a month and in August I managed to get there on the right day! These structures, of which only two survive, used to collect water from the springs on Coombe Hill, near Kingston upon Thames (where I was born) and carry it under the Thames near Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court. This was during the reign of Henry VIII. Interestingly, some of the stone used in their construction probably came from Merton Priory, which had only recently been dissolved by Henry VIII.

August also saw me making a trip into Dorset where we used to live. In the 18th and early 19th Centuries, Dorset was smuggling country and Osmington Mills, near Weymouth, was and still is home to an old inn called, not surprisingly, the Smugglers' Inn. This view is looking towards Weymouth at sunset.

Next stop - Cornwall!


  1. Mudlarking sounds like fun! Do you get to keep what you find?

  2. Hi again Bronwyn,

    Yes, I think we could have done, but we didn't. The stuff we found and collected weighed a ton. The Thames uncovers and buries stuff with every tide. There were quite a few Americans among the mudlarkers that day, but then we were right by the Tower of London which is, of course, a major tourist attraction.