King George V decreed that this stretch of riverside was to be …’used by children of London, with free access for ever’. Its huge popularity has, since those hazy summer days, long been forgotten. But memories were rekindled when the beach was again opened up over a late July weekend, giving a rare opportunity to ‘mudlark’ or just wander amongst the ‘treasure hunters’.
For a limited couple of hours, during low tide, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in late July the City of London Archaelogical Society organised a ‘dig’. Everyone of all ages, armed with wellies, gloves, trowels and buckets were encouraged to search for artefacts - of all ages - amongst the pebbles and sand of the Thames foreshore. There were plenty of archaeologists and experts on hand who could recognise a rusted Coca-Cola can from a fragment of Jacobean metalwork or could turn a boring piece of red earthenware into a unique roof tile from the time of the Great Fire of London. Although no one found the “crown jewels”, there were a number of interesting finds to keep the enthusiasm going; decorative bowls of clay pipes, 18th century dressmakers pins , pieces of decorative ceramics, and a ‘very old coin’.
As well as digging around on the beach there were some very impressive historical artefacts on display at the ‘market stall’ area in front of the Tower of London.
With something of interest for everyone; from ancient basketwork techniques, examples of metal work, ceramics, mosaics, games, costumes and make up, members of COLAS and experts were on hand to answer questions and provide tons of fascinating information.
This annual event is a most enjoyable mix of leisure and learning and a great way to spend time with incredibly nice and enthusiastic people. An event suitable for ‘children and grown ups of all ages’!
National Archaeology Week at the Tower of London: Saturday, July 26 & Sunday, July 27 2008 - 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The City of London Archaeological Society has been excavating and studying London's history since the mid 1960's…
written by Jenni Boswell-Jones
(KidsZone • London)