The Thames Discovery Programme is a community and public archaeology project which explores the archaeology of the River Thames at low tide. Members of the Foreshore Recording and Observation Group (FROG) regularly monitor sites along the river, noting the condition and presence or absence of previously known features and deposits, and identifying and recording the position of those newly observed.

From Selina:

We visited FSW03 – Rotherhithe – on 4 July 2023. We last carried out a monitoring exercise in January and have since walked the foreshore looking for changes. We concentrated on the features which have vanished or been severely eroded. The gun carriages in the gridiron between the houseboat and the jetty have gone with a lot of the timber and the consolidation. The foreshore is now about 75cms lower than it was when we first planned the gun carriages, one cold December morning. Hopefully we ‘ll meet Alan, the mudlark, on our next visit. He may be able to shed light on where they’ve gone. While a couple of the gun carriages have safe homes, others have vanished into the great unknown and have probably disintegrated as they dried out, even when, as rumour has it, they’re stored in someone’s bath!

Following the erosion of the consolidation, more and more metal scatters are being revealed. Margaret’s photo gives an example.

Decorative photos of the foreshore at Rotherhithe
Margaret Sparks

This is particularly clear nearer The Mayflower. The revetment there has lost most of the horizontal planking, the kiln waste by the river wall has been washed away, and the wall itself has been undermined. We have recorded several windlasses in this area, associated with the revetment. One floated away during fieldwork in 2016 although the retaining timbers remain and others are more visible, following erosion. The steps by The Mayflower have now been blocked off as the drop from the bottom tread to the foreshore is about 1 metre; gone are the days when we used them to access this part of the foreshore.

The digitisation of the permatrace from fieldwork at Rotherhithe is underway. We also used the monitoring to confirm which alpha numbers remain. In agreement with Nat we archived various archive numbers several years ago as we hadn’t observed the features for at least 2 years. Some, but not all, of the features which we’ve recorded over the last few years have alpha numbers and we now have details of those which haven’t been formally recorded. We hope this will be useful in compiling the report on FSW03.

[Alpha numbers – numbers used to identify features on the foreshore.
Nat – Nathalie Cohen, a former member of the TDP team, now working for the National Trust.]

If you are an existing FROG and are interested in joining one of the Monitoring Groups, please get in touch with the TDP team.

Thames Discovery Programme Greater London