The River Thames flowed through London before the city was even built, and its waters have swallowed up centuries’ worth of trash and treasure. The river is no longer the centre of London’s trade and transportation, but the objects excavated from the Thames foreshore provide a fascinating glimpse of the city’s past. Claire Madge talks about some of the relics rescued from the Thames, and her work to bring them to light while volunteering at the Museum of London Docklands.
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Discovery Tagsoral historyharlequinAnglo-SaxonpsychopolisUK Picture Editors' Guild Awardsexhibition
The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
A few weeks ago I found myself surrounded by fascists. I was on my way to the West End when at Tower Hill station a large group of French-speaking men with assorted girlfriends and wives (I presume) entered my tube carriage.
Looking after London’s ghosts…
When I first started working at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive I was told there was a ghost in our metal store. More Casper than Blair Witch, the ghost allegedly helped you find objects that had been ‘misplaced’. Sadly, I’ve never seen this ghost, but with 200,000 boxes containing millions of fragments of London’s history, I think it fair to say the ghosts of London’s past sit on our shelves.