Tadpoles on the Thames
The Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) monitors and records the foreshore of the River Thames. The Thames is London's largest archaeological site, and the TDP's team of adult volunteers, the Foreshore Recording and Observation Group (or FROGs!) help to look after the foreshore and record its features and finds. The FROGs now have help... from a young team of volunteers called the Tadpoles!
YAC member Roisin O’Toole has been along to two Tadpole events. She wrote this blog to tell us more...
Fish traps and the first Putney Bridge
This year, Thames Discovery Programme ran two Tadpole events for families to learn how to record major artefacts and features. Each event showed us a different method of recording. I went to both events; the first with just my mum and the second with both my mum and sister. We walked along the foreshore, recording the area (on the Putney side) between Putney Bridge and Fulham Railway Bridge. The area has provided evidence of Anglo-Saxon fish traps, the remains of the first Putney Bridge built in 1729, and evidence of river access in the form of a causeway. So it was a great place to try out our new skills!
Pencil and paper
On the first day, we used an analogue method using pencil and paper. Before we had a go, we were shown what the FROGs – the adult volunteers – were doing. They showed us how to record features in more detail and to a scale.
We used a map by the famous archaeologist Ivor Noël Hume, who died earlier this year aged 89, as our model. The map in question shows features and artefacts from along the Southwark foreshore. We learned the differences between artefacts and features, and how they help archaeologists understand a site.
Using a blank map, we marked St. Mary’s Church, Putney Bridge and the slipway, and we used them to position ourselves. Then, we walked along the length of the foreshore marking on the footing of the first Putney Bridge, the remains of what could be Anglo-Saxon fish traps, and areas where artefacts like bone or clay pipe were more common.
On the second day, which was also London History Day, we learned how to use a special app to record features. The app was developed by the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN) to record coastal archaeology, but the Thames Discovery Programme has adapted it to use for foreshore archaeology too.
As the FROGs had already recorded many of the features, we had fun recording the ‘prehistoric’ office chair, the ‘Tudor’ traffic cone and ‘medieval’ chair! As there were only three tablets, my sister decided she would just look for artefacts. She loved posing with them.
The Thames Discovery Programme are running lots of other exciting events for families and adults, so if you want to give mud-larking a try, visit the events section of their website to see what events they have coming up soon!
Blog by Roisin O’Toole, member of both Aylesbury YAC and Chiltern YAC!