Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames

Lara Maiklem. Liveright, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63149-496-3
British editor Maiklem plumbs the archaeological history of the Thames River through unearthed remnants discovered on its banks in her engrossing debut. Taking up mudlarking—scavenging for hidden treasures—Maiklem “tunes in to the voices of the past.” She explains the river’s tidal effects—for example, that “the height between low and high water at London Bridge varies from between 15 and 22 feet”—and has learned the tidal table of each shore access point. When the tide goes out, she unearths jewelry, pottery, buttons, pipes, combs, armor, medals, and clothing. In Tidal Head, she uncovers a stopper to a Victorian Codd bottle, which sealed fizzy drinks; she then recalls that the oldest stopper she found was a clay, Roman-era olive oil stopper made in Naples. “The objects that are hidden in the mud at Greenwich fill in the details that are missing from history books,” she writes. There, she uncovers cooking pots and dishes that were used in the nearby 16th-century palace of Henry VIII, and surmises that “he held extravagant entertainments,” while explaining how the meals must have been prepared and served. This thoroughly fascinating look at treasure hunting along the banks of the Thames also serves as an astute history lesson. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/25/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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