Simon Bourne | Photo: Hannah Smiles

Simon Bourne

I first discovered mudlarking some years back when I visited Rainham Marshes in Essex, which is part of the Thames Estuary. I was captivated by the concrete barges that have been deserted there – some say they were used for storing/sending oil during the War, but no one really knows. I hopped off my bike and began to search the foreshore and discovered lots of broken ceramics and I thought, ‘What else is out there?’. I went back a few weeks later with a cheap metal detector and found a few halfpennies (probably from the old pub or ferry crossing) and I was hooked. As time went by I ventured further upstream, and I met many like-minded people, through which I have made friends for life. Not only is mudlarking a thrill to hunt for historical artefacts, I enjoy the social connections and unique personalities I have met through our shared hobby. I never leave the foreshore disappointed. Even if the finds are lacking, I still get enjoyment from being in London, enjoying the river views at sunset or on a cold foggy winter’s morning when the water is as still as a millpond, imagining what happened here in the past. Mudlarking for me isn't just a pastime, it's a way of life, I plan my life around the tide times and always feel a yearning to go back to see what old Father Thames has given up.

Photo: Hannah Smiles

Terry Seddon

Well, I started about 40 years ago... not fanatically, but I would occasionally visit Tilbury dump, and less occasionally Woolwich for what I would describe as beachcombing, as at the time my focus was on bottles, pots and clay pipes. The fact that there's lots of small treasures to be had didn't dawn on me yet. My other spare time hobby that didn't cross over for a long time was metal detecting, with no great success. The detectors of the day weren't a patch on today's machines and woodland was my choice of search area. Again, farmland as today's ‘place to go’ didn't compute with me. Then there was a massive gap whilst home-building, and a young family took all my time. Slowly, my hobbies have resurfaced...

@terryoldguy

Mercury pot (Terry) | This is a find from my early days of seeking items on the foreshore. A very tactile little pot, only in the last few years have I learned of its original medicinal use. It's appeal is even greater since! Mercury was used as a cure for venereal disease and syphilis, it was injected into the nether regions and was a brutal cure.
Victorian Marbles
Musket Ball Retriever
Dog Tag (Si) | Ok, now for my best find. In 2012, I had only been mudlarking for about a year when Jules beckoned me over to his ‘good spot’. After a couple of minutes I pulled out what I thought was a dirty old-style 10p piece, but it soon became apparent that it was something far more interesting
Roman Ballista Ball
Victorian Barge padlock face-plate (Terry) | An unimpressive item at face value, this proved to be most fascinating when the name and address stamped into it was researched by my good friend Simon Bourne. It threw light on the life and times of a Thames lighterman from Bermondsey called Henry Dudin (1776 – 1851).
Dutch tobacco tin, mid-18th century (Si) | So we had a day out with our club, and there was about 15 of us doing some mudlarking, and I was towards the back of the pack, when I discovered something brass and shiny sticking out of the mud that everyone else had missed. When I pulled it out I thought it was a modern religious offering or a Japanese souvenir, so I flung it into my mates bucket and on we carried. At the end of the session, I nonchalantly asked my mate to have a look at the offering when someone told me that it was actually a Brass Dutch Tobacco tin dating to the mid 1700’s. I couldn’t believe it. Looking closely it has a tavern scene on both sides, and some writing in Dutch. The only word we could decifer was the word Mine, so maybe it was a poem, or Dutch saying. Again this is on the PAS database, despite not being over 300 years old, it was still deemed interesting enough to record.
Saxon horseshoe, 10th/11th century (Si) | So I was teaching my friend Nicola White how to use a detector, when I found this horse shoe. It was quite deep in the anaerobic Thames mud, that preserves things so well, and it’s in amazing condition considering it’s over 1,000 years old. It was recently recorded with the Museum of London, and they confirmed that it was late Anglo-Saxon, 10th/11th century. It’s known as a wavy edge ‘Type 1’, called this because the waves round the edges occur when the nail holes are countersunk. It also has shallow caulkins, the little lip, that make it rare in this example. In fact this is the best example of its type that the Museum have on record.
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Simon & Terry's Finds

Mercury pot (Terry) | This is a find from my early days of seeking items on the foreshore. A very tactile little pot, only in the last few years have I learned of its original medicinal use. It's appeal is even greater since! Mercury was used as a cure for venereal disease and syphilis, it was injected into the nether regions and was a brutal cure.
Victorian Marbles
Musket Ball Retriever
Dog Tag (Si) | Ok, now for my best find. In 2012, I had only been mudlarking for about a year when Jules beckoned me over to his ‘good spot’. After a couple of minutes I pulled out what I thought was a dirty old-style 10p piece, but it soon became apparent that it was something far more interesting
Roman Ballista Ball
Victorian Barge padlock face-plate (Terry) | An unimpressive item at face value, this proved to be most fascinating when the name and address stamped into it was researched by my good friend Simon Bourne. It threw light on the life and times of a Thames lighterman from Bermondsey called Henry Dudin (1776 – 1851).
Dutch tobacco tin, mid-18th century (Si) | So we had a day out with our club, and there was about 15 of us doing some mudlarking, and I was towards the back of the pack, when I discovered something brass and shiny sticking out of the mud that everyone else had missed. When I pulled it out I thought it was a modern religious offering or a Japanese souvenir, so I flung it into my mates bucket and on we carried. At the end of the session, I nonchalantly asked my mate to have a look at the offering when someone told me that it was actually a Brass Dutch Tobacco tin dating to the mid 1700’s. I couldn’t believe it. Looking closely it has a tavern scene on both sides, and some writing in Dutch. The only word we could decifer was the word Mine, so maybe it was a poem, or Dutch saying. Again this is on the PAS database, despite not being over 300 years old, it was still deemed interesting enough to record.
Saxon horseshoe, 10th/11th century (Si) | So I was teaching my friend Nicola White how to use a detector, when I found this horse shoe. It was quite deep in the anaerobic Thames mud, that preserves things so well, and it’s in amazing condition considering it’s over 1,000 years old. It was recently recorded with the Museum of London, and they confirmed that it was late Anglo-Saxon, 10th/11th century. It’s known as a wavy edge ‘Type 1’, called this because the waves round the edges occur when the nail holes are countersunk. It also has shallow caulkins, the little lip, that make it rare in this example. In fact this is the best example of its type that the Museum have on record.

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