I’ve spent a lot of time around the Thames, but I never actually was in it. Like many major cities, London was built close to the fall line, located relatively far inland, yet still experiencing significant tides. At low tide, the bed of the river is surprisingly accessible.
One sunny Sunday afternoon last September, Elizabeth and climbed down a stairway to look for Thames treasure. Lots of other people were taking advantage of the high sun and the low tide to build sand castles, walk along the beach, or just snooze.
The floor is mostly sand at the outer edge, adjacent to the embankment walls. Closer to the water, the floor is coarser, composed of natural and manmade pebbles.
It was surprising how much much the riverbed varied across what would otherwise be a 15 minute stroll along the Thames Path on the South Bank. Most of the natural pebbles were flint nodules, broken and smoothed, showing a variety of different colors. Some of them were sandstone and other conglomerates. We found a lot of chalk, which comes with the flint, and Elizabeth even found a black pumice pebble. The Thames is an restless river that over the eons has brought a wide variety of river gravel from as fare away as Wales.
Natural items included oyster shells, crab claws, leaves, and twigs. As we strolled downstream, we encountered areas with very different textures and colors.
The river bottom in some areas was characterized by ‘stones of manmade origin, mostly bricks, but we also found areas that had limestone building stones, usually broken, but with tool marks still clearly visible.
One spot had a number of yellow refractory bricks from the Star Works in Glenboig (Scotland).
We found lots of manmade objects, mostly plastic pens, but also razors, sandals, insulators, wire, pottery, CO2 cartridges, plastic cutlery, plastic bracelets, can lids, lots of burnt wood, and lots of glass.
I don’t know that we found anything economically valuable, but it was a day that we treasure.
(NOTE: all of the photos in this blog entry, and the preceding entries from Amsterdam, were taken with the Cyber-shot Digital Camera RX100 III, a camera that fits in my jeans pocket.)