A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green
I spent a really fun afternoon yesterday exploring a small stretch of the Thames foreshore with a guide. I wanted to share it because it is also a fascinating couple of hours for children.
I came across a site called Thames Explorer because I was trying to find out if it was possible to go down onto the Thames to try and find old bits of pottery and other interesting artefacts. This website has all the information you'll need to enjoy a couple of hours with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.
We met underneath the Millenium Bridge on the north side, by the obelisk. We were about eight adults and four children. Before going down onto the foreshore Andy, our guide, explained all about health and safety, tides, the rules regarding digging and paid special attention to ensuring the children understood the rules regarding running, eating and drinking (none allowed!).
We slowly worked our way along this small stretch of the foreshore, up to Queenhithe Dock. Andy spent all his time explaining the age, origins and use of every article picked up, which included pieces of tudor pottery, loads of clay pipe stems of various sizes, (the cigarette butts of the day) pretty blueware from the Victorian era, bits of medieaval pottery, old pins and nails, etc. Sometimes near the shoreline you can find old coins. The children really enjoyed searching for 'treasure' and getting their hands on a bit of history.
Because the Thames is a tidal river it never runs out of 'stuff'. It is like a giant, natural car boot sale, just as interesting, with ever-changing stock.
Wellies or walking boots are the most suitable footwear and I took a pair of heavy-duty gloves which came in handy now and then. The sun was really hot and I could have done with a hat to protect the back of my neck.
It was a brilliant couple of hours, the peaceful lapping of the waves on the foreshore contrasting with the lively activity on the river - the boats, the people passing over the bridge, music from a brass band on the other shore. But it all seemed to fade away as we became completely absorbed, heads bent, eyes scanning the shoreline, hoping to find evidence of the magic of the past.
As Alan said, the Thames foreshore is 'the best place on the planet' to foster an interest in archaeology and it's only down the road. All details of cost, dates of next guided exploration etc. are on the website, Thames Explorer.
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