The Thames at Low Tide Reveals a Treasure Trove of Historical Tokens

Mudlarking by The Thames. Photo credit: Andrew Testa for The New York Times

As recently reported by Megan Specia for The New York Times, The Thames in London is hiding historical secrets on its shore, and certain explorers are eager to uncover them. At low tide, the river peels back to expose a beachy foreshore, and with it, long forgotten antiques and partially buried objects, dating as far back as the Roman Empire. The foragers and collectors of these bygone fragments of Britain are known as Mudlarks, meeting twice daily at low tide to look for Victorian jugs or even 17th century watches. 

‘The name — mudlark — was first given to the Victorian-era poor who scrounged for items in the river to sell, pulling copper scraps, rope and other valuables from the shore. But more recently the label has stuck to London’s hobbyists, history buffs and treasure hunters who scour the river edge searching for objects from the city’s past.

Mudlarking’s popularity has grown steadily in recent years, driven in part by social media communities where enthusiasts share their finds, and tour groups that offer a trudge through the shards of history’s castoffs.’

Megan Specia, The New York Times
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

More from History

What is the long now?

The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

Learn more

Long Now's website is changing...