If you’re new to mudlarking, it can be helpful to have some guidance on where to begin and what to look for. This post contains a list of the most useful mudlarking books for beginners. I have ensured they cover practical tips for recognising noteworthy discoveries, and guidance on the best areas along the river Thames.
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Best Mudlarking Books for Beginners
The mudlarking books recommended in this post provide a wealth of information on different areas of the river Thames, tips for finding and identifying artefacts, and stories of other successful mudlarkers.
Interested in Mudlarking? You may find the following articles helpful:
1. Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem is one of my top recommendations for anyone who has just started mudlarking. Lara Maiklem is an experienced mudlark with a large following on social media. Over the past ten years she has made a number of remarkable discoveries including a 16th century sword, an Iron Age pot, and a medieval pilgrim badge.
In Lara’s book she goes through her experience mudlarking on different stretches of the river Thames, with facts and stories about the river and the people who once lived there. The author also mentions the discoveries she made on the Thames, and what they tell us about London’s history.
The book divides mudlarks into two different categories: hunters and gatherers. Hunters are goal orientated and driven by a desire to find something rare, or of monetary value. They often use metal detectors, or trowels in their search.
Gatherers on the other hand enjoy the process of searching as much as the finding. Gatherers are excited to find even the simplest of objects, such as an unusually shaped stone or glass bead. For them, mudlarking is a form of meditation, where the time spent looking is just as important as the find.
The author describes herself as a gatherer who meditates on her finds: “the personal possessions of ordinary people, each small piece a key to another world and a direct link to long-forgotten lives.” She says it’s often the tiniest of objects that tell the greatest stories.
I have included below a photograph of the table of contents in this book, so you can see the areas of the Thames that are covered. The book also has some great pictures. Overall it is an excellent read if you are interested in the history of London and the river Thames. It is also beautifully written and very readable.
Order a Copy of Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem
2. A Mudlark’s Treasures: London in Fragments by Ted Sandling
A Mudlark’s Treasures: London in Fragments by Ted Sandling is entertaining as well as informative, and provides a history of London through the items found on the riverbed.
Ted Sandling is an experienced mudlark with a degree in art history and experience working for the auction house Christies. He has found many treasures on the banks of the Thames which are described in his book. These include neolithic flints, Roman pottery, Georgian clay pipes, medieval buckles, and Tudor buttons.
A lot of the items mentioned are related to trade. The Romans originally set up London as a trading town, and trade has endured ever since, making London the thriving city that it is. The book explains what the pieces tell us about trade in London over the centuries.
The book includes some beautiful illustrations of the treasures found on the Thames riverbed. The photograph below shows just some of the images. There is an entire chapter dedicated to clay tobacco pipes, and contains pictures of the different pipes found.
Order a copy of A Mudlark’s Treasures: London in Fragments by Ted Sandling
3. Mudlark’d: Hidden Histories from the River Thames by Malcolm Russell
Mudlark’d: Hidden Histories from the River Thames by Malcolm Russell is a beautifully illustrated book with pictures on every page. For this reason I recommend buying the actual book, rather than the Kindle version, as the pictures are easier to see.
The book tells the long-lost stories of the people who once lived along the river Thames, when London was the busiest port in the world. Back then the Thames was packed with riverside taverns, markets and brothels.
Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a different group of people, including pilgrims, criminals, traders and immigrants. Their stories are told through the objects discovered on the Thames foreshore. The photographs below show the contents of the book.
The book is packed with interesting information and photographs. It also includes images of what London would have looked like in the past. It’s clear that a lot of research has gone into all the objects found, and what they tell us about the people that once owned them.
This is the best book I’ve found if you want to see images of artefacts found by a London mudlark. Almost every page is filled with stunning photographs of items found in the mud of the river Thames. This book focuses on mudlarking finds, and what they tell us historically, rather than the personal experience of a mudlark.
Order a copy of Mudlark’d: Hidden Histories from the River Thames by Malcolm Russell
This post was about the Best Mudlarking Books for Beginners
Thank you for reading my post about the best mudlarking books for beginners. If you know another good book that isn’t mentioned in this post, please leave me a comment below.