One of the UK's biggest community archaeology programmes celebrates its fifth birthday

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 October 2013

One of the biggest and certainly most prolific community archaeology and outreach programmes in the UK celebrates its fifth birthday during October 2013.

a photograph of a gloved hand holding a small ceramic Roman head
A Roman clay head discovered near Cannon Street.© Thames Discovery Programme
The Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) began providing access to archaeology and leading efforts to record the largest archaeological site in the UK, the Thames foreshore, in October 2008.

Since then it has mobilised and trained over 450 volunteers of the Foreshore Recording & Observation Group (the FROGs), monitored over 60 sites at risk on the Thames, won several awards, reached over 100,000 people through its website and hosted over 200 public events.

The programme, which is hosted by Museum of London Archaeology and supported by the Museum of London, English Heritage and the UCL Institute of Archaeology, has also led to thousands of recorded archaeological finds and some of the capital’s most important discoveries of recent years.

In 2010 TDP discovered London’s oldest structure at Vauxhall just metres from the MI6 building. The timber structure, together with a woodworking tool and pottery, was dated to the Mesolithic period and is believed to be over 6,000 years old.

Another important discovery came in 2009 at the Charlton foreshore where a group of large timbers were identified as the remains of Victorian 1st rate ship of the line, Duke of Wellington, which at the time of its launch in 1852 was the largest warship of the Royal Navy. The Duke of Wellington served in the Crimean War and for a time even replaced Victory as the Navy’s flagship at Portsmouth.

Other sites unearthed through the mudlarking antics of the largely volunteer group include evidence for Bronze Age flint-knapping at Bermondsey, several  Anglo-Saxon fish traps, medieval jetties at the Tower of London and Greenwich and the launching slips for Brunel’s SS Great Eastern.

But beyond these sites the FROGs have also unearthed a bountiful haul of archaeology that includes everything Roman tiles, pottery fragments and tokens to ivory handles, keys, coins, and even cartwheels.

All of these precious foreshaw finds and sites are carefully recorded and many of the finds have boosted the archaeological collection of the Museum of London.

The TDP annual conference ‘The Foreshore Forum’ takes place on the weekend of 5-6 October at University College London. Presentations will be led by prominent archaeologists and the amazing work and discoveries of the Foreshore Recording Observation Group commended.

More pictures:

a photo of wooden stumps stretching across a river
Anglo Saxon fish trap timbers.© Thames Discovery Programme
a photo of bricks, pottery sherds and other fragments arranged in nine boxes
Artefacts from Trig Lane.© Thames Discovery Programme
a photo of an intact clay pipe lying amidst pebbles and rocks
A clay pipe found in Chelsea.© Thames Discovery Programme
See more photos on the TDP Flickr pages:

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