Nicola with a collection of finds in her hands

The Joy of MudLarking

By Nicola White at Tideline Art

It’s 7am in the morning and I’m standing on a misty foreshore of the River Thames in London. It’s eerily silent and peaceful. The tide is on the way out and there are two hours until it will be at its lowest. I feel a sense of anticipation and excitement as I start my morning’s mudlark. I walk along the mud slowly and carefully, looking down as I do so to see what the tide has left out for me to find today.

Nicola waiting for the tide to recede further
I’ve been mudlarking now for about 15 years. Unlike the poor mudlarks of Victorian times, modern day mudlarks are searching the Thames at low tide for fragments of London’s past. These lost and discarded objects can tell us so much about Londoners from times gone by. I’ve been fortunate enough to find artefacts belonging to a wide range of eras; Iron age and Tudor coins, Roman and Medieval pottery, Georgian clay pipes and Victorian jewellery to name but a few. My favourite finds are those I can link to a person or a place from the past.
For me, these are the real treasures worth more than gold or silver.
Nicola stood under a bridge with the Thames and London skyline behind her
The peaceful morning of searching and being in the moment flies by. The tide comes back in all too quickly. I change out of my muddy boots. With my finds safely in the pouch around my waist I go home to research them. The 19th century MP John Burns described the River Thames as Liquid History. I love to think of the Thames as a giant liquid history book. Mudlarking inspires so many people and I feel very fortunate to have a YouTube channel where I can share my passion for it and my mudlarking outings with thousands of people.
Nicola with a collection of finds in her hands
I should add that my boots are easily the most important part of my equipment. They are literally with me through thick and thin (mud that is). I spend hours wearing them and Muck Boots are by far the most comfortable, cosy, and practical that I have worn. I have the Arctic Sport II Tall in Hot Pink which is very handy as people can spot me from the other side of the river!
NB you need a permit to mudlark on the River Thames. Details can be found here.
Nicola standing in a pair of Arctic Sport II Tall Boots in hot pink with the O2 Arena behind her
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Nicola stood on rocks with the flood barrier behind her

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