April 27, 2008

Beachcombing on the River Thames

Pauline and I had another beach adventure - this time taking a London Walks walking tour with an archaeologist along the River Thames near the Tate Modern. This being my last Sunday in London it seemed appropriate to look for bits of history I could possibly take back with me to the States.

Pictured are the best of our pickings. Top left is a piece of crockery - not sure of any dates. Top right is a bit of Tudor roof tile. You can tell it is Tudor because of the whole in the shingle through which they would post a wooden peg. The white tube sitting on top is a piece of clay pipe from the late 1600s when tobacco use to be smoked in tiny amounts as it was an expensive, imported luxury. The bowl of the pipe is missing. The rippled piece of pottery is a design which replicated a cake's layering and the edge of the ceramic was finished like a pinched pie crust. The piece of glass at the bottom which was amongst a pile of sacks from the 1930s thrown into the water to create a firm base on which to build.

We learned that there are bits of Roman history you can find along the shore directly alongside pieces from the 1900s. This is because the river was dredged for 150 years and all the materials from the sides sank into the center creating a big mix of history. In our 1 hour walk Pauline and I found a half dozen pipes of various sizes, twenty pieces of colorful pottery, bits of glass and some impressive nails. It was an excellent way to spend my last Sunday.