The other morning, my husband and I was standing on our balcony right above the river, enjoying the rising sun. It was low tide, so the foreshore below was exposed, and here, every 50-100 meters, was a person walking slowly, stooping, focused, and staring down into the muddy bank. We wondered what these people were looking for? Could it be amber? Or maybe mussels? There is a rich bird life along the banks, and the birds feed on shellfish and other seafood. On the other hand, the people on the bank rarely bent down to pick something up, so it would then have to be a modest mussel harvest.
Later that day, we visited the British Museum. I can highly recommend to go there, and to bite off your visit in small chunks. Admission is free and there are impressive things to see, including objects from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and many other cultures.
When I returned home, I visited the British Museum.org to refresh my memory about some of the objects and stories I had seen and read about, and I came across a blog post about Thames bank findings of toys from the 1800s. When I googled further, I found out that treasure hunters – so-called mudlarks – on the Thames foreshore have found everything from children’s toys, prisoner’s ball and chains, silver cufflinks, and Roman coins to flint axes from the Stone Age and million year old fossils of sharks.
Apparently, Thames overflows with stories and treasures from the past, and things are well preserved in the mud. But, before you put your rubber boots on and go digging, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, the tide is quite strong and the current fast, so it is worth checking out tide tables. Secondly, you must seek permission and pay a daily fee of £ 31 or annual fee of £ 72, before starting to dig in the mud. And, everything you find should be reported to the Museum of London. More information for potential Thames treasure hunters on The Port of London.
Of course, you could also just stroll along the wharf (safely above the foreshore) and enjoy the messy views to steamboats, bridges, skyscrapers, city tour boats, historic buildings, and houseboats around Thames.
Read also my Great Britain road trip in The Independent Traveler