This is a running blog throughout a week or so of random archaeology on the Thames foreshore. It starts with the Tower foreshore event for the Thames Festival, goes on to a project at Surrey Docks City Farm and will cover fieldwork at Putney.
Thames Festival. Despite a sunny start to the day, by the time we get there it has turned wet and windy, so there is the usual fight with our signage, which seems to have a life of its own!
Despite the foul weather conditions, though, a respectable number of the public turn up, and we are soon quite busy telling them about our work on the foreshore and helping to identify their finds. They are quite blown away to be told some of the stuff is 17th century, and some of it Medieval.
Finally I get down on the beach and take some photos and rummage around, and Nathalie(our leader) finds a spoon which looks very early, and so impresses Graham Kenlin our finds expert that he is offering to x- ray it, wow! Finally the weather takes a serious turn for the worse, and we head for the river stairs. Was it worth it? I am asked when I get home-sure it was, a lot of people had fun finding stuff, and the word was spread. Always worth it.
Surrey Docks City Farm. I count myself very lucky to have been counted in on this community experiment in a lovely little oasis in the East End. The farm is a tranquil little spot, not only animals but a knot garden a dyeplant garden, rooms for community activities and a restaurant, all overlooking the river Thames. The community are exploring the history of their site, which includes remnants of a jetty used by the fire and ambulance service in the Second World War and before that for smallpox and fever patients. Finds have included institutional china marked with the logo M.A.B which aapparently stands for Metropolitan Asylums Board, and blue and white institutional china from a hospital ship moored on the opposite bank of the Thames. A button with the logo AFS (auxilliary fire service) has also been found, all of which supports the history of the place in written and oral records.
The site is interesting archaeologically, but also very beautiful and serene despite the busy river traffic. It seems to have huge skies, and the colouring of the buildings on the opposite bank to to give the light on the water the appearance of molten gold. When working on the foreshore I often get a sense of peace and connexion with the elements and the artefacts which is very healing after the stress and angst of a modern working week, and nowhere do I feel this more strongly than at Surrey Docks City Farm.
Putney, This site runs from a slipway near Putney Bridge to an area just past Putney railway bridge. The area near the slipway has a large feature composed of blocks of dressed stone blocks which we are recording, the other feature which is beyond the railway bridge, is one of several Anglo- Saxon fishtraps found on the Thames foreshore.
As I cross Putney Bridge to join the FROG on Friday, my attention is caught by a hugely dramatic sky over Putney railway bridge, which I have reproduced below. I eventually join the team recording the elusive fishtrap- elusive because at this point everything on the foreshore seems to be the same colour, and we find that the fishtrap extends back futher than first thought. When we start planning the fishtrap, the tide is well down, but when the tape for the baseline disappears underwater, we realise it is probably time to call it a day, and retreat further up the beach to record the stone feature and meet up with the TDP guided walk which has joined us on the foreshore.