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Thank you for your interest in the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) You may have been a FROG member since the beginning, met us recently at one of our events or found us online – however you got here, welcome, and we hope you enjoy our newsletter! In this issue you can find out more about the Gresham Ship Project, fieldwork undertaken by the FROG during our Summer Season at Greenwich, the Tower of London, Custom House, Isleworth and Chiswick, and about our forthcoming events. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the Thames Discovery Programme, please do get in touch: email@example.com
BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL AWARDS 2012 We’re delighted to announce that the Thames Discovery Programme has won the award for Best Community Archaeology Project!
FROG Training - Book Now!
The Thames Discovery Programme is now hosted by Museum of London Archaeology! Taryn Nixon, Managing Director of MOLA, said “The Thames is one of the largest archaeological sites in the country and the fact so many Londoners have volunteered their time to discover and record its archaeological secrets is one of the most exciting community projects we have ever experienced. We are committed to involving more volunteers around the country to participate in projects like this, as a way of deepening all our understanding of our allimportant local heritage.”
Bookings are still open for training to become a member of the Foreshore Recording and Observation Group. Our programme takes place over four days and includes health and safety training, lectures about Thames archaeology from the TDP team, foreshore fieldwork sessions on some iconic London beaches and guided walks to sites of archaeological and historical interest. All this for a cost of only £25.00 per day! Summer session: Starts 11th AUGUST 2012 For further information & to book your place, please contact TDP Field Officer Eliott Wragg. Please note that attendance at all four days of the training is required to complete the course and become a member of the FROG team.
We look forward to seeing you on the foreshore!
Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ED, Telephone 02074102207. We’re rarely in the office so it may be easier to contact us via email in the first instance. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter @ThamesDiscovery!
Newsletter: edited by Nathalie Cohen
Foreshore Fieldwork Update:
We headed hopefully into the 2012 summer season with drought assured by the expert boffins at the Met Office, and assumed that this would be one of the best years yet for identifying new features at the bottom of the low tide mark. A summer of glorious sunshine and great archaeology, what could possibly go wrong? As we know, the weather hasn’t exactly gone to plan (!), but we have nevertheless run fieldwork at three sites, a monitoring session at a fourth, and two rounds of FROG training. Well done to the hardy and intrepid FROG members who have braved the British summer! Greenwich Palace: After the wonderful March weather and some really good low tides we headed to Greenwich in April with optimism; especially as the Greenwich FROG had recently identified new peat deposits and possible Anglo-Saxon fishtraps at the very low tide mark—well done to Helen and the team. Unfortunately, in came the rain, and while we were able to photograph these new features and deposits, we were unable to survey them. We therefore focussed upon what appeared to be a series of phases of jetty, part of which comprised base plates, the joints and fixings suggesting a 12 th century date. On closer examination it appeared that it was actually one very large structure, around 40m in length which continued into the river below the low tide mark, necessitating at times some rather unorthodox planning techniques—see left! This jetty, barely visible three years ago, not only demonstrates the ongoing erosion at this site, but also that there was a significant and thriving medieval presence at Greenwich, with deep water vessels trading here. Initial documentary research suggests that it may be related to a religious foundation of the Abbey of Ghent, so it may have been primarily for the export of wool and import of wine. This is the largest medieval structure we have yet recorded on the foreshore and, hopefully, we will see more of it emerge in the future. Tower of London: In May we returned for our third year running to the Tower Beach, in particular to the eastern end of the site where erosion continues to be extremely severe. We carried out a finds survey with the Society of Thames Mudlarks and the Thames and Field Metal Detecting Society and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and we would like to thank the Crown Estate and Historic Royal Palaces for funding the fieldwork. As ever at this site, we found that many of the features recorded in previous Photos by Nat Cohen years had been eroded away while new, hitherto unseen ones had emerged in their place. A new layer of base plates had emerged beneath, and on a different alignment to those recorded last year, along with new rows of vertical piles. These appear to represent river stairs and revetments which may pre-date the medieval river wall. Further down the foreshore eight round wood elm piles had emerged which appear to be a substantial jetty of possibly earlier date. Samples have been taken for radiocarbon dating so watch this space for results! Report by Eliott Wragg
Isleworth and Chiswick: At Isleworth we were hoping to survey the Anglo-Saxon fish trap and causeway, unfortunately, the fish trap did not appear from the water all week. Instead, we recorded in detail two phases of post-medieval causeway and a much-repaired masonry stream outfall. As ever, the MOLA geomatics team were on hand to record our baselines and undertake topographic survey, which rather surprisingly suggested that there had been up to 0.15m of erosion in places since the last survey in 2009; this is certainly changing our thinking about what we earlier thought were relatively stable upstream sites. We look to the West London FROG to keep us informed of possible developments! For the last day of the week we undertook a monitoring visit to the Chiswick foreshore (right) on an extremely blustery, but thankfully dry day. This was the first proper monitoring session undertaken here since the Thames Archaeological Survey identified features in the late 1990s, and while the river was not low enough for us to investigate the entire site, we were able to usefully update our records for much of the area.
Future fieldwork: After the Olympics, we are hoping to undertake two further weeks of summer season fieldwork at the important shipbuilding and breaking sites at Charlton (left), near the Thames Barrier in August, and at Deptford in September.
A few dates for your diaries: The Festival of British Archaeology—join the TDP and MOLA at the Museum of London on Saturday 21st July to find out more about ceramic finds from the foreshore. Walbrook Discovery Programme—a series of guided walks, site visits and seminars with MOLA and the Developing City in August and September The Thames Festival—8th and 9th September 2012 SAVE THE DATE: The fourth annual TDP Foreshore Forum will be held at the Institute of Archaeology, London on Saturday 8th December—more details coming soon! As always, please check the events pages of the TDP website for more information and details of many more events across London and beyond...... http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/events-home/
UPDATE on the GRESHAM SHIP When the substantial remains of an armed Elizabethan merchantman were discovered in 2003 by the Port of London Authority while they were clearing a navigation channel in the Thames estuary, they called in the archaeologists. A gun barrel from the wreck bore the insignia of Sir Thomas Gresham (the famous London merchant and financier 15191579), while tree-ring analysis of the hull timbers suggested the ship had been built in or just after AD 1574. The team from Wessex Archaeology, led by Jens Auer, recorded the timbers partially on the sea bed and then on dry land, once the five huge sections of the hull had been raised. The remains represent that most exciting period of Elizabethan seafaring, exploration and adventure, the age of Drake, Frobisher, Seymour and Hawkins. RESEARCH & PUBLICATION A five-year intensive study began in 2007, co-ordinated by the UCL Institute of Archaeology, with support from the PLA, Gresham College, English Heritage, Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS), Museum of London, the Receiver of Wreck, the Mercers' Company, the Royal Armouries and the University of Southern Denmark. Results of the research on the hull, the guns, the associated artefacts as well as the iron bars and metal ingots representing its valuable cargo will all be ready by the end of 2012. Publication will be in two major volumes in the NAS monograph series. MUSEUM DISPLAYS: Stoney Cove, Leicestershire As for the hull timbers, they have been moved to the National Diving Centre at Stoney Cove (http://www.stoneycove.com/the-greshamship.html), where they now form the star attraction for the many SCUBA divers who frequent this popular facility. This museum display is certainly unusual, being 6m underwater. But it is more than just a fascinating exhibit, for it will become a major focus for training the next generation of nautical archaeologists, as the NAS expands its pioneering educational role with the development of this unique “underwater classroom”. We look forward to the first blog from a FROG member who gets to dive on this Tudor wreck site! Central Museum, Southend on Sea, Essex For those who prefer their museum displays on terra firma, you will be pleased to know that the artefacts from the Gresham Ship are being transferred to the Southend Museum Service. A brand new museum is being built overlooking the Thames Estuary, and is thus a most appropriate location for the finds to be permanently displayed (the gallery will also eventually house the Prittlewell Prince assemblage). There is a chance to see some of the finds from the Gresham Ship this summer (2nd June- 6th October 2012) as a new temporary exhibition has just opened in the Central Museum. This is called "THAMES TITANICS: Wrecks from the Estuary", (http://www.southendmuseums.co.uk/whats_on/event/Thames-Titanics-Wrecksfrom-the-Estuary) and features a range of a artefacts recovered from the bed of the Thames, and tells the story of associated vessels that sank in these treacherous waters. Many of the wrecks featured (including the Gresham Ship) were encountered during channel clearance work associated with the development of London Gateway, the brand new container port being built by DP World. Are there any FROGs who wish to review this exhibition of finds from the Thames (while enjoying a day at the seaside)? Report by Gustav Milne (images from Wessex Archaeology and Wikimedia Commons)
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