London Archaeology Class Visit the Thames Foreshore

Author: Emily Grassby


Fay Stevens, Adjunct Professor of Archaeology and Ethics and London Archaeology writes:
Our London Archaeology fieldtrips continue with an illuminating excursion on Saturday 2nd February onto the Thames foreshore.  Here, we were fortunate to have the expertise of two experienced field and foreshore archaeologists Dr Courtney Nimura and Nathalie Cohen from the Thames Discovery Programme.  Through the experienced eyes of Courtney and Nathalie, we observed prehistoric features, ancient peat deposits, riverine industrial structures and a host of cultural funds, including a piece of Victorian salt glazed pottery, an exquisite sherd of hand painted 17th century Delft ceramic ware, fragments of clay pipes and a variety of ceramic pieces.  We extended our discussions to consider the social and cultural context of the archaeology we were engaging with as we explored themes of trade, social mobility, cultural identity and the palimpsest of the London Landscape.
Courtney and Nathalie write:
‘The Thames Discovery Programme is a large scale community archaeology project, hosted at Museum of London Archaeology.  When the tide is out, the Thames is the longest open – air archaeological site in London, and much of the foreshore is freely accessible to the public.  However, many of the exposed archaeological sites are often unrecognised and unprotected, and almost all are vulnerable to the twice – daily scouring of the tidal river, and thus require close monitoring.  Building on initiatives pioneered by the Museum of London’s Thames Archaeological Survey that took place from 1993 – 1999, and the Thames Explorer Trust’s innovative education projects, the Thames Discovery Programme aims to communicate an understanding and informed enjoyment of the historic Thames to the widest possible audience. This ambitious project was launched with generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008, and has been hosted at MOLA since November 2011.  Other partners include the Museum of London, English Heritage and the UCL Institute of Archaeology.  Our roles are twofold: to monitor and record the archaeology of the Thames foreshore with the support of our volunteers, the FROG (Foreshore Recording and Observation Group), and to enable access to the intertidal zone by members of the public, and disseminate information about the archaeology of the foreshore in person, in print and online.  It was a pleasure to show students from University of Notre Dame the site at Vauxhall – one of our key sites – and we hope everyone enjoyed it!’


For more information about different kinds of artefacts and structure on the foreshore have a look at the ‘Discover’ page
Information on the Thames Discovery Programme foreshore activities, as well as talks, lectures and online resources can be found at
Images: The London Archaeology class on the Thames foreshore near Vauxhall Bridge with Courtney Nimura and Natalie Cohen, and two students with their foreshore ceramic finds.  ©Fay Stevens