All change

April at Vauxhall gave us a surprise or two. It was a lovely morning for a visit to the foreshore, but we soon started to see some significant changes to the site. Whenever this happens, we tend to go through several stages of denial; Hmm, something looks different. Err, was that like that before? No. I’m […]

London Lupercalia*

Cold and wind and rain. So just a typical February foreshore visit then. There was a little bit of feasting in the Portuguese cafe after our visit, but it wasn’t particularly riotous. Still, someone has been having fun. Today we were forecast a low tide of 0.31, not super-low, but not bad. I wasn’t hopeful […]

A chilly new year

We made our first visit of 2016 on a chilly, slightly drizzly January Sunday morning.

We were expecting a low of 0.37, so we were expecting to be able to see at least some of the prehistoric timbers in front of MI6. This was a fairly short visit, just a reccee really, to see what we could see.

The tide was already pretty far out in front of MI6, so we were able to have a look at the first large timber.


A lot of the bark has been stripped off by the wave action but it’s not in any danger. Looking at the top of the timber, there seem to be what look like chop marks in it. We wondered if it had been used as a chopping block in the past.


The tide was quite far out in the area around this timber so we waded out a bit to look for some timbers that we haven’t been able to see in a while.


Under the water we could see three of the known timbers.


Ok, it was practically impossible to get photos that showed them all, but Roger helpfully indicated their positions. He’s standing right by the larger central timber and pointing directly at the other two.


Incidentally, this shows just how nice and clear the water is around here. It does cloud up with silt when the Clippers go past, but the water is often this clear, usually with very little floating rubbish in it. Those Thames Rubbish Eaters do a good job.

We weren’t able to see any of the other mesolithic timbers closer to the bridge because, although the tide did go out a fairly long way, the tide line has become increasingly uneven, perhaps due to erosion at different points. The level of low tide closer to the bridge was actually much higher than down near Lack’s Dock.


Just after the above photo was taken we realised that the tide had turned and was rushing in so quickly that we had to sprint to rescue our bags before they disappeared under the water. The tide actually came in so quickly that by the time we walked back to the first timber (only about 6o metres) the water had reached right up to it.

Cappuccinos called, so we went off to the Portuguese cafe to warm up.

In the bleak midwinter

Dark, cold, threatening to rain. What’s not to like? It was very nearly midwinter when we made our last scheduled visit of 2015. Considering how rainy it’s been, you won’t be surprised to hear that the site was pretty muddy upstream of Vauxhall Bridge. As we had already planned to have a look at the dock […]

Spooky Vauxhall

Halloween at Vauxhall brought beautiful sunny weather but scaaaary mud.





More mud


Having taken a look at this from Vauxhall Bridge just before descending to the foreshore, I’d pretty well decided that I was having none of it. When I met Roger he had already seen it too and had come to the same decision.

So we decided that we’d do a bit of a recce upstream of Lack’s Dock and see how things were looking generally.

We are noticing that the contours of the foreshore in front of MI6 have been changing. The low water area of the foreshore (on the right of the image below) is being increasing scoured flat and it looks like a lot of the dislodged material is being pushed further up the foreshore (on the left of the image below).


Quite a lot of the layer nearest the low water mark still looks like a relatively recent industrial layer. There’s quite a lot of metal-work in it (I should say that ‘quite a lot’ is a relative term. This wouldn’t be considered quite a lot at, say, Rotherhithe, but here it’s a noticeable amount).

Roger particularly wanted to have a look at the chalk area immediately upstream of Vauxhall Bridge, as there has been a significant amount of scour there.

A lot of the chalk boulders have been broken up and are eroding out and we are seeing an increasing amount of barge-bed fill across the whole area. This means that we’re seeing more things like bits of clay-pipes, pottery sherds, old shoes etc. Today we found a discrete area which seemed to contain a lot of pottery kiln furniture and wasters.

We also saw a lot of animal bones. This area is tricky because the chalk barge-bed layer and the fill and packing underneath it seem to just merge into the layers below, where there is peat and a lot of shrubby roots and stems. Where we are seeing animal bone, we can’t always tell if it’s associated with the barge-bed fill or the peat layers beneath.


We didn’t take this bone out because it was home to a whole colony of shrimps!


Today we had a range of animal bones, mostly just on the surface, including this monster Scooby Snack.


So, as we head towards year’s end, we made some decisions about our next area of focus. We had wanted to continue drawing all the features on our alpha list, but the mud made this impossible. We can’t even see half of the box structures as they are lost in the depths.

So our focus has rested on this.


This is the point at which the River Effra flowed into the Thames (n.b. this photo was taken earlier in the year. On this visit, we couldn’t get near the dock entrance because of the mud). It was a water source and  dock for industry. We have decided that we are going to draw this dock entrance, including the track support to the right (maybe the track for a small crane?). We also have quite  a few images and map evidence for this dock so we’re working on a timeline for it. Doing this will help us to write a little illustrated potted history of the dock, and it has the benefit of forcing us to sort out some of the mass of data we have. This is also a good winter project because winter weather and mud may make it more difficult to carry out work actually on the foreshore.  If you’re interested in joining us, do get in touch via the Ning, and if you know of any obscure bits of information about the Effra, feel free to leave a note for us in the comments.

Lastly, we also had some tokens to remind us that it’s Halloween.



The Four Horsemen

A week or so ago, fellow FROG John, of the Greenwich FROG, tweeted me this tweet with a word of concern about the foreshore archaeology. The photo shows the installation on the Vauxhall foreshore of a set of four sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor called The Rising Tide, commissioned as part of the Totally Thames festival. “The […]

Pipe Dreams

It’s summer and the foreshore is looking fine, albeit a bit muddy. Our Vauxhall visit last weekend dodged the torrential rain that we’d seen in the past couple of weeks, and in other regions of the country, and we had a beautifully warm and sunny day for our visit. So scorchio that Roger had to […]

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