The River Thames is a huge archaeological site when the tide is out, and there are pieces of history wherever you look along the foreshore.
What is mudlarking? The word derives from the poor Victorian children who searched for little treasures in the mud of the River Thames to sell for a few pennies. Mudlarks now are people who search the foreshore for pieces of history and evidence of past lives.
What do mudlarks find? Anything from animal bones and teeth to pieces of pottery, clay pipes, coins, buttons, bullets, jewellery…. See our finds on www.tidelinart.com
Do I Need a Licence? The basic rule is 'surface finds' are OK but if you disturb any part of the foreshore, even to look underneath a rock, you should have a licence. Scraping the Thames foreshore surface with any type of implement is considered digging. You can apply to the Port of London Authority (PLA) for a licence and they can give clear guidance on what you will be allowed to do and where. If you are just interested in history an 'eyes only' (no digging equipment) search is allowed everywhere without a licence.
Can I Keep Everything I Find? Any object found on the foreshore over 300 years old, or which could be of significant historical interest needs to be reported to the Museum of London via their portable antiquities scheme. By doing this, a picture of historical London can be built up.
Safety – Anyone going on the foreshore does so entirely at their own risk. Be sensible. Go in pairs. Be aware of your surroundings. The Thames foreshore can be a perilous place, with deep mud and a tidal range of over 7 metres. Steps can be very slippery. The tide comes in very quickly. Consult a tide timetable. Take a mobile phone. Check your exit points and wear suitable footwear.
Id like to have a go : A good way to start out and to find out where to go and how to go about it, is to go on guided walk. There are some links below of organisations which do this. Alternatively, take a walk on the foreshore in front of the Tate Modern on the South Bank, or near St Paul’s Cathedral on the North Bank
The Thames Discovery Programme - for guided walks http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/
The Thames Explorer Trust – for guided walks http://www.thames-explorer.org.uk/about/
The Port of London Authority - https://www.pla.co.uk/Environment/Metal-Detecting-and-Digging-on-the-Thames-Foreshore
Information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme https://finds.org.uk/
The Museum of London http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/