Bones, Pottery, Among Other Items Pulled by Mudlarks From London’s River Thames

As for riches, the sale of anything found on the Thames banks is prohibited.

England’s River Thames holds secrets, and some people are trying to uncover them.

Mudlarking is a kind of scavenger hunt through the muck of the river.

At low tide, mudlarks sift through the detritus of history to see what’s been left behind.

For 2,000 years, humans have lived and worked along the London portion of the Thames, according to the Thames River Trust.

Historian and writer Malcolm Russel spoke to CBS News about mudlarking.

“For hundreds of years, it was also its busiest port. You've got goods coming into London from all corners of the world being consumed by the population of London. When they were finished with them, when they became rubbish, they sort of ended up here thrown into the Thames, which is why we can find them today," he said.

Finding gold is unlikely, but pottery shards and animal bones are almost expected.

“Lots of bones to be found here on the Thames floor. This is probably a piece of animal bone. This stuff was thrown into the river by butchers, slaughter houses, households. This could easily be several centuries old,” Russel added.

Mudlarking has a rich history. Records going back to the 1700s show people made a living as mudlarks —selling the things they collected on the banks of the Thames.

Mudlarks are recreational hunters. Anyone pulling treasures from the Thames riverbed has to obtain a license beforehand, and anything found has to be reported to the Museum of London.

As for riches, the sale of anything found on the Thames banks is prohibited.

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