Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Friday, 17 July 2009

Margate Harbour Mudlarks


Mudlark is a name generally associated with the River Thames and dates from a time when people living through the harsh economic times of the 18th & 19th Centuries , simply kept alive by scavenging from the foreshore of the Thames. In true human adaptability, knowledge was built up of the best spots and generally where to find things leading to a great understanding of the river . This soon led to the discovery of historical artefact's in the oxygen starved mud and for many this became a lucrative business trading in Roman, Saxon and Medievil artefact's.
A fine example being Billy & Charley the well known Mudlarks of the mid 19th Century who would dig the the foreshore of the Thames for lead medieval tokens and would make a living selling them as curios . Eventually when demand outstripped supply Billy & Charley decided to make their own which earnt them infamy in River Thames folklore. More details on River Thames mudlarks including Billy & Charley can easily be found on Google.
I first came across the Mudlark stories in the 1970's through word and mouth . I was fascinated by them and thought with a bit working out the same principle of digging could be applied to the oxygen starved muddy areas of Margate and Ramsgate Harbour. Being someone who used to bait dig parts of the Margate Harbour I had prior knowledge of many found items , so I upped my game by using a Metal detector and started to find things like coins and tokens by digging deep holes and running a metal detector over the spoil heap. Not all items were metal , I even found a Victorian shoe, plenty old bottles, stoppers and shards of pottery. The oldest pieces being shards of a Bellarmine flagon late 1600's which I gave to Sarah at the Grotto.
Over the years the Harbour has silted up and the mud has gone and has been replaced with hard sand but I am convinced that there is still more to be found. Like most of the coastline everything seems to be silting up at the moment but with over 10,000 found items to my name at least I have the knowledge where things are buried for the future .
In the future I will feature some finds and new finds on my blog as I have now moved away from covering Margate Historical work as they will soon be having their own website.

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