I am a mudlark. I wander the shores of the River Thames at low tide searching for lost and forgotten objects that tell tales of the past and bring forgotten Londoners to life.
I never dig or use a metal detector and I often walk little more than a mile in 5 hours, yet I can travel 2,000 years back in time through the objects that are revealed by the tide. Prehistoric flint tools, medieval pilgrim badges, Tudor shoes, Georgian wig curlers and Victorian pottery, ordinary objects left behind by the ordinary people who made London what it is today.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Surrey and moved to London in the early 1990s. For several years the river was my go-to place in the chaos of the city, then one day I found myself at the top of a set of old wooden river stairs, looking down onto the foreshore itself. That was 20 years ago, since then it has become my obsession; a weekly amble in central London, lost in the minutiae of my surroundings, or a bracing march further east through the bleak marshes of the Estuary.
In 2012, I became the first person to share mudlarking with the world on social media as ‘The London Mudlark’. What began as an anonymous time filler between feeding, burping and changing baby twins quickly attracted followers and media attention and I have now written two books – the Sunday Times bestseller Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames (Bloomsbury, 2019) and A Field Guide to Larking: Beachcombing, Mudlarking, Fieldwalking and More (Bloomsbury, 2021). I’ve written for newspapers and magazines and they have written about me, I’ve appeared on radio and television and I’ve also consulted for books, television, exhibitions and events. In 2022, I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and I am the first woman in history to hold the ancient position of Juror for the Court Leet of the King’s Borough in Southwark.
I regularly speak at festivals and private events and if you’re interested in mudlarking without getting muddy you can also join almost 250k other armchair mudlarks and follow my regular posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.