MUDLARKING – WHERE TO START?

books mudlarking reading list

Since the beginning of 2021 I have become slightly obsessed with the idea of mudlarking. I stumbled upon Jason Sandy’s instagram account @jasonmudlark whilst down an Instagram rabbit hole one evening and was amazed with what he was finding – 18th Century glass bottle seals, coins, gorgeous glass bottles, semi-precious stone. Perfect little treasure to include in my Curious Collections, just lying on the shore of the Thames waiting for me, what could be easier? But before I even had my welly boots on I realised there was more to mudlarking than I first thought.

So I got started in a typical ‘me’ fashion and bought some books. I’d seen on Jason Sandy’s Instagram that he’d published a book (with co-author Nick Steven) Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures went in my basket, along with Lisa Woollett’s Rag and Bone: A History of What We’ve Thrown Away. The latter I was drawn to because of the gorgeous cover.

Next up I did a quick Google which lead me to this great article by Ben Gazur on BBC Travel who gives mudlarking a go, and on his very first trip finds a clay pipe. I become more and more excited, until I see a green box to the side of the article “Mudlarking Rules”. Urg, rules, but wanting to do everything the right way I click though to the Port of London’s website.

I learnt that I need to buy a permit (£90 for 3 years), there are certain areas which you cannot mudlark and you must report anything you find that could be of archaeological interest to the Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer at the Museum of London. That all seemed reasonable and so did the list of things to take with you when on the store; sensible shoes, mobile phone, not being alone, checking the tide (I downloaded the PLA app), making sure you have quick access off the shore. But it was the last point “Finally, be aware of the possibility of Weil’s Disease, which is spread by rats urine in the water” gross. Plus I read “although cleaner than ever before there are still occasional spillages of raw sewage into the river after heavy rain” on Liz Anderson’s blog. That slightly shattered the dream of taking my 5 year old with me to search for ancient treasure, and I plastic gloves go straight into my Amazon basket!

Next on my mudlarking to do list

  • Spend some time working out when low-tides are on the PLA app

  • Decide which shore(s) should I try

  • Think about doing a guided tour to learn the dos and donut’s.

  • When I am ready, buy myself a permit

  • GET GOING AND GIVE IT A GO

I am excited to share my mudlarking journey with you here, I hope you find it as interesting as me. 

Pip x

P.S. I’m new to blogging, but I would love to hear from you if you have any tips and kind words to share with me and my other followers. And you can also keep up to date with my work and my escapades on the foreshore by follow me on Instagram @pippakatedesign.


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