Mud Larkers of the World Unite

Mud larking is my new favorite passion. I knew it would be since I heard about it. I went to the UK for a quick visit recently – and had to make sure I had a go. Lucky for me the day I went to London the tide was out, but turning back on the shores of the River Thames. I only had a couple of hours before I’d have to hoof it out.

Mud Larkers dig and wade in the mud, silt, stones when the Thames is out to unearth the most amazing treasures of years gone by. The mud is anaerobic – without oxygen – so preserves just about anything. So, it’s not uncommon to find combs made of bone, Victorian pottery, coins, clay pipes, animal bones, etc. I am told that the blue glass in a little ribbed bottle would have been a poison bottle – how about that.
As I was walking I’d just sift the stones and see dozens of broken clay pipes and pottery – everywhere you looked.

You are supposed to get permission from the Port Authority of London if you dig below the the surface – and if you find something incredible ‘share it’ with the Museum of London – anyway since their web site was down I took my chances and scaled the wall down by the OXO Tower and trolled up to The Globe Theatre (Shakespeare’s Globe) opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral. A very friendly veteran Mud Larker looked at my loot (no better than the Hatton Garden diamond heist), and gave me the bottle stopper. She had found a King George coin and dice made of bone the week before.

It might look like a pile of junk – but shoplifting off the shores of the Thames is finders keepers – unless you find something the Museum of London doesn’t have in its collection.