These days, the Thames is one of the cleanest urban rivers in the world. Once upon a time, though — and for hundreds and hundreds of years — it was London’s toilet, wastebasket and repository of unwanted dead hookers rolled into one. If you have the stomach to go looking, some of the junk thrown or lost down there is incredibly cool.
“Mudlarks” are people who traditionally combed through the shit on either side of the river looking for stuff worth having. Historically, it was neither nice nor lucrative. These days, mudlarks are armed with metal detectors, and it’s…well, actually, it’s still not nice and not often lucrative, but they find some unbelievable stuff.
To metal detect along the Thames, you need a license from the Port of London Authority. And to get that, you need the approval of the Museum of London. Which is excellent, because the museum does analysis on their finds and buys the very best specimens for display. There are only about fifty people with a license at the moment.
Okay, hang on to your retinas, I’m about to send you to the Mudlarks’ official site, or as I call it: The Worst Site on the Internet. I mean it. Not because it’s ungrammatical, scatological, politically incorrect, half missing and keeps pointing you to the awesome new site that doesn’t seem to exist. No, because MY EEEEEEEEEYESSSSSSSSS!
But it’s totally worth the risk of nausea, shortness of breath, incontinence and temporary color blindness, just to browse through what’s left of the pictures of all the cool things they’ve dug up.
Would I lie?
Update: oh, their new website is MUCH easier on the eyes! Thanks for the tip, Carl!
January 7, 2013 — 11:49 pm