Mudlarker discovers a bowl in the Thames which may be a rare Roman find

A mudlarker says he’s been told he’s found a “rare” almost complete Roman cup from the banks of the River Thames.

Malcolm Russell, 49, of London, dug the artifact out of the mud when he ventured out last week during some of the lowest tides of the year.

He said archaeologists at the Museum of London believed the object could date to the second century AD

Mr Russell said it was “at the top” of his “dream find list” and his Twitter post about the find had gone viral.

Popularized by the Victorians, mudlarking involves wading down the banks of the Thames at low tide and searching for interesting historical objects.

Mr Russell, who is from Walthamstow in east London and has enjoyed it for seven years, says he is ‘excited about what could happen’ because ‘when the tide is very low obviously more of the river bed it’s exposed and you have a better chance of finding things.”

Despite this, he said after a few hours he still hadn’t found anything, until he saw “a dark spot under about half a meter of water”.

“Normally you just find bits of Roman pottery, little bits and pieces,” she said, “but I started dipping into the water and pulled the handle of this piece of pottery and it kind of just kept going — and then suddenly in my hands I had an almost complete Roman ship.”

He continued: ‘I was so dumbfounded and excited at the time that I almost dumped all the mud and sand that was in it, but a friend came to my mind who said you shouldn’t do that because I like the Museum of London x-ray complete vessels to see if they contain original contents.”

‘1,800 years’

He added that he’s only seen a couple of things that size in the past seven or eight years.

“When you think that over time it broke or it rolled in the river and shattered, it’s miraculous that something so complete could survive,” he said.

Notable Thames finds:

He explained that although the vase was missing one of the handles, he had contacted the Museum of London to see if they would be interested in examining it.

He says archaeologists told him it looked like “a rare find,” and while no original contents were found in the cup, it was likely more than 1,800 years old.

He said: “They found that it is most likely a contemporary copy inspired by a much more expensive type of vessel built along the Rhine River in the 2nd century AD then.

“The museum said it has not identified another specimen that has ever been found in this state in London,” he added.

Mr Russell said experts believed there was ‘certainly a very good chance it would have been used for wine or another liquid’.

Discussing what motivated him to mudlarke, he said: ‘All I find are little portals into the past, and something so complete is very evocative, it makes you think what it was for, who were the last hands to touch before it ended here, because it was thrown away, it is indeed very rich fodder for the imagination.

“It’s contributing to our understanding of London’s past. It definitely excites me, you don’t find these things just for yourself, you find them so that everyone can learn from them.”

It’s unclear whether the museum intends to keep the artifact once its provenance is confirmed, but Mr Russell said they would be happy to donate it to their collection.

The Port of London Authority says a valid permit is required for anyone wishing to search the sludge of the Thames.

A spokesman for the Museum of London said: “The object has been handed over to the museum’s finds officer.

“We are unable to comment on this at this stage until some initial research and analysis has been conducted.”

Follow BBC London on Facebook, Chirping and Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *