Dec. 11, 2020

Magnificent Mud Larking

Magnificent Mud Larking
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This week we talk about Mud Larking I look at the History and discuss the differences between the real Mud larking and what everyone else calls Mud larking.

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Hey Everybody. Welcome! to Episode 38 of the metal detecting show podcast. My Name is Ciaran and I have been Metal Detecting for nearly 30 Years and This week we talk about Mud Larking I look at the History and discuss the differences between the real Mud larking and what everyone else calls Mud larking.


So lets get on with the show.



Hey everyone before we start I want to thank you for listening to the podcast and I hope you enjoy the show this week  but before we begin I want to give you the following information. 


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Hey Detectorists! Welcome to Episope 38 only two weeks to Christmas so Happy Christmas and I just want  to let you know my schedule over the Christmas period.


This week of course we are talking about Mud larking, Next week will be my review of the Simplex but the following two weeks which are Christmas Day and New years Day will be highlights from the year with regular service resuming the first Friday of the New Year. 


I am feeling the Podcast could do with a refresh both in content and stylistically, so let me know if you have any preferences. Would you like more interviews more quick hits of me talking about whatever I come across week on week, more product reviews, for me I hope to do more interviews and product reviews, interspersed with some tech tips. 


If you compare the podcast to when we first started back it March we had music all the way through the podcast, we had a weekly news section and the tech time out. All of which have gone by the wayside, I will still drop in a tech time out every now and again only because I like to shout on the podcast but I might change the theme tune and how much of it I use each week. 

Plus I am investigating creating more youtube content, such as recording the podcast liveish which might not work with interviews but lets see and I am also thinking on creating a youtube channel to just review and bench mark metal detectors so let me know  


This week I got out again with the Simplex I took it to one of the roughest terrains I hunt and apart from some physical issues with the detector, I was happy with the hunt hitting a coin spill of spendies enough for a coffee which is always nice. 


The more I do this podcast I find that I am making the mistakes I tell people to watch out for like in this week’s hunt I never charged up my Go-Pro which died halfway through the hunt and I never charged my pin pointer which died after about 90 minutes so do as I say people not as I do!!!!!


It was cold this week very cold about 3 degrees C or 37 degrees Fahrenheit which is positively Summer for some of the listeners but it was cold especially when the hands got wet so make sure to wrap up warm people.


I am still investigating the insurance issue which is drawing out way to long at this stage as I am getting the run around from a few brokers but ill persevere into the new year and give you an update as soon as I get one. Of course this is having a direct impact on my ability to get permissions but with the country opening up that will ease.


So this week we are going to discuss Mud larking and with any discussion like this I always like to start with a bit of the History. 


Mud Larking in the traditional sense is what the rest of the world would call beach combing or at least the urban equivalate of beach combing but Mud larking came to popularity in the 18th Century along the foreshore of the Thames in London England, however, I don’t believe for one minute that there was no mud larking occurring in London before this but it seems to have gained some popularity around then, so we go with that.


Mud Larking back then was consigned to some of the low skilled and poverty stricken Populus of London who would Scrape about in the Mud of the Thames foreshore between tides looking for titbits and bits and bobs that fell off the passing barges and boats to sell on for a living. 


This would be filthy work today but consider that the Thames was a major vain of the London Raw Sewage System with Animal and Human waste being pumped and dumped into it every day making it a career that operated in deplorable conditions where a simple cut could fester and kill you and often did. 


Although the conditions were shocking and the rewards minimal, a lot of Mud larks were happy with their lot as this role allowed them certain freedom’s in working their own hours plus they got to keep what they earned or found which meant they were masters of their own time and leisure a lot more than what their counter parts had who worked in the work houses at the time. 


So that’s where it Started but where is it today well, I think it is safe to say even though a lot of people would call their beach combing activities Mud Larking this is inaccurate, as the only place you can mudlark in my mind is on the London foreshore or to put it in other words you can beach comb anywhere but you can only Mudlark on the Thames Foreshore. 

Print the t-shirt there someone.


So the modern equivalent is pretty much the same as what it was in the past, a modern mudlark will walk the foreshore looking for finds that are of Archaeological or historical importance or just finds of interest. 


These finds could be anything from everyday items, pottery, buttons, tools and Clay Pipes with the odd coin popping up but a smorgas boards of general oddities that has been dropped into the Thames over the last 400 years.


So how do you go about Mud larking on the Thames well first let’s consider the equipment you would need and to be honest a lot of this is related to safety which is most definitely an important part of Mud larking, obviously you need gloves so you don’t cut yourself in the still filthy water of the Thames, boots so you don’t slip on the slippy rocks maybe a few small digging tools if permitted but ill get onto that in a bit. 


A Watch to keep an eye on the tides or at least the window of time between tides which can swing up or down up to seven meters twice a day and make sure to have an exit strategy as getting off the foreshore normally means climbing a ladder or steps which can be far from where you end up when the tide starts coming in. 


One of the most important safety concerns is to watch out for Weils disease which if you have been listening to the podcast before will know is a disease that comes from Rats urine and enters through cuts in the hands or via the eye cavity and can cause kidney failure and bleeding from the Lungs an altogether nasty ailment so be careful. 


Once your safe all you need is a good set of eyes and some knowledge to educate you to what to look out for. Some Great places to go mud larking in london are under the Millenium bridge Just outside the Tate Modern Gallery, the North Bank, the SouthWark and Black friers.


One of the amazing things about the Thames foreshore is that it is made up of Anerobic Soil which essentially has no Oxygen in it so as to Rust any artifact or find and because of this preservative effect, finds have been found in near perfect condition to the day they were dropped 100’s of years previously. 


This makes the Thames foreshore a very valuable resource in relation to Archaeology and the History of London and as such it is protected and if you wanted to go Mud larking you can’t just jump the fence and have a go.

You need to make sure you have the proper permits. Where do you get these permits well as the Thames is owned but the Port of London Authority you need to fill out a form with them and they will give you a permit to mudlark is successful and will help you by telling where to go and what to do, if you do find something of importance and whether these finds can leave the country or not. 


If your worth your weight in Salt you would be thinking like any metal detectorist and that is wouldn’t it be great to bring a metal detector onto the foreshore, well that is illegal without a license again which can be issued by the Port of London Authority and costs £85 pounds or $110 dollars. and payable annually but this is only for a standard permit, which only allows digging to a depth of 7.5 cmor 3 inches.


And right now The Port of London Authority is not currently issuing any new ‘mudlark permits’ but Ill include a link to the expectations and rules in the show notes



Some good resources about Mud larking are online and ill reference two in particular later but I expect most people are familiar with Mud Men a British television series on the History channel, which followed members of the Mudlarks Society as they hunted for History on the River Thames foreshore. This series was presented by Johnny Vaughan[1] and Steve "Mud God" Brooker, who was chairman of the Mudlarks Society and I say Was as it is no longer being filmed but it was a great show which did something special and I have to say I missed when it got cancelled. 


I am sure there are some downloadable versions of the show online so make sure to check it out as it is a stealthy wealth of knowledge.


A great book to read on the subject is London in Fragments by Ted Sandlings although the information is outdated it is still worth a look. If your looking for a more up to date account of Mud larking and the finds available make sure to check out Mud Larking by Lara Maiklem who also goes by London.Mudlark on Instagram and is a regular on the BBC or Podcasts on the subject. 

If Instagram is not your cup of tea then make sure to check out Nicola White Mudlark on YouTube who creates some create content and stories on the subject.


So you can’t get to London to Mudlark authentically but you can get to your local river foreshore or beach to beach comb. I myself love to walk the harbour foreshore looking for bit’s of pottery old Glass bottles and on the occasion I have found a clay pipe or two and believe it or not my very first gold ring I found out metal detecting was a surface find when I was walking the beach on the way home from a day detecting.. 


Mud larking or Beach Combing is probably the easiest and healthiest way to get into the hobby of metal detecting or amateur archaeology, all it takes is for you to strap on your boots put a bag over your shoulder put your head down open your eyes and off you go but it will take a bit of time for you to get attuned to what you are looking for and at, or as they said in Mud Men to get the Eye in but whatever you call it either Mud Larking or Beach combing it is a great activity for the days you want to take a break in swinging the detector or for the kids to be involved in.  


Wrap Up 

That’s it for this week’s I hope you liked this episode of the metal detecting show podcast.


Check out our website for this episode show notes. 


Check out our Patreon page if you want to help the podcast stay alive or just want to buy me a coffee. Actually if you want to buy me a coffee you can do so at also


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If you like this content and would like more please don't hesitate to tell your friends and don't forget to hit that subscribe button.


Once again, I hope you have enjoyed this episode and we will chat to you all again next week. 

Get out there eyes down and Happy Hunting.