For most of the year, the Tower of London foreshore is one of the few no- go areas on the London foreshore, but once a year it is opened to the general public. The resulting event is a wonderful feelgood festival where anyone who wants to can be an archaeologist (or a Mudlark, even)for a day, and rummage around on the Tower foreshore, where they are guaranteed finds, and there will be several teams of experts to identify the finds. There are two archaeology groups, COLAS and the Thames Discovery Programme, and this year, the Portable Antiquities scheme and also Thames and Field Mudlarks, headed up by Steve Brooker of Mud Men fame.
Thames Discovery Programme(foreground) and Thames + Field Tables.
City of London Archaeological Society (COLAS) had a large tented area.
Portable Antiquities. These people would not only identify your finds, but also register them if they were suitably impressive!
I hadn’t been able to go on Saturday, but I made up for it on Sunday! Lots of friends and aquaintances were there, and there was news and gossip to be exchanged. The queue of people to go on the foreshore stretched right back to the gate of the Tower precincts at one stage, and people were quite happy to wait for an hour for their session on the foreshore. I did my usual thing that I do on these occasions, chatting with the public, helping them with their finds. The first year I did this the pressure was enormous, as it seemed like we of the TDP were the only perceived experts, and so we got everyone and everything, regardless. This year not only were there finds tables on the foreshore, there were specialists to refer people to.
The Queue For The Foreshore.
I have always loved this event, because I think it is such an inspiration, and as such it was the climax of my ‘Fortnight of Archaeology’ which happened to coincide with the national ‘Day of Archaeology’.
Next week of course, sees more digging, at Charterhouse and probably elsewhere, but that, as they say, is another story…….