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Newsletter Autumn 2011

Phase One: the HLF project 2008-2011

Our training, survey and outreach programmes for 2008-2011 have all been successfully completed!

Thank you for your interest in the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) You may have been a FROG member since the beginning, met us recently over the summer at one of our events or found us online however you got here, welcome, and we hope you enjoy our newsletter! In this issue you can find out more about the last three years of our project and our future plans. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the Thames Discovery Programme, please get in touch:

We would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for the initial generous grant (without which the last three years would have been very different) as well as the other bodies, agencies and institutions that supported us. The list is a long one and includes University College London, its Public Engagement Unit, the Port of London Authority, CBA (London), the Howard Trust, City of London Archaeological Trust, Museum of London Archaeology, LP Archaeology and the Crown Estates to name but a few. Particular mention must be made of the Museum of London, English Heritage and also the Thames Explorer Trust, our partner organisation and enthusiastic collaborator in our outreach work; all three have been involved with the TDP since its inception and throughout its life. And so too has the Thames Estuary Partnership whose staff have worked long and hard on the management of the HLF project, also providing office accommodation for some of the team: to them, an especial debt is owed.

A big THANK YOU to you all!

Our three years have been very busy: the TDP team has run over 130 events, including childrens activities and schools sessions, family and adult guided foreshore walks and visits to other sites and museums across Greater London, FROG training and archaeological fieldwork, seminars, workshops, evening lectures and conferences attended by over 6,000 people. Working with the Foreshore Recording and Observation Group, we have demonstrated that site after site is suffering from increased and increasing erosion. This in itself was not a surprise, but the sheer scale and extent of the problem (comparing the situation now with that ten or fifteen years ago) was stark. As a consequence of this dynamic tidal regime, new archaeological features are being exposed across the foreshore in Greater London and we have made some exciting discoveries over the last three years of fieldwork. Given that the Thames foreshore is indeed the longest archaeological site in London, we will only be able to monitor a sample of its secrets. The fieldwork team have selected twenty Survey Zones for our long-term study, based on quality of the features exposed, the severity of the erosion threat, health and safety issues (such as the relative ease of access) and the geographical distribution from east to west across the Greater London area. Over time, we will be adding to this list to increase our coverage. Information about the 20 Key Sites can be found on our website ( Not all of the sites visited by the TDP teams had previously been observed by the Thames Archaeological Survey in the 1990s, and consequently many new features were recorded for the very first time in 2008-2011. The list includes: London's earliest prehistoric structure, a Mesolithic site at Vauxhall more Saxon fishtraps a possible medieval jetty structure at Greenwich early post-medieval river-stair frames near the Tower of London vessel fragments including part of HMS Duke of Wellington (1852) at Charlton hitherto unknown type of river ballast lighter from Woolwich the launch site for the SS Great Eastern at Millwall By any archaeological standards, this is an impressive haul, especially when set alongside the equally important series of features recorded previously. Our vital monitoring work has shown that, while some of these known features are still at least partially visible, a number of major ones have been lost over the last decade, and thus only survive in paper records and as photographs. There can be no doubt that many chapters of London's long history can be illuminated by the TDP's continuing studies on the Thames foreshore.

Over the last year the TDP has worked with schools, family groups and other organisations to develop a variety of resources. These are intended to make the project more accessible to the wider community, particularly those with little or no background knowledge of archaeology or the Thames. Workshops have been developed to encourage the use of materials found during foreshore visits as the basis for whole schemes of work and cross curricular studies by schools and for river-related projects by other groups. These resources also provide for the needs of other riverside educational groups and organisations, particularly those who can provide access to archaeological artefacts. Resources have also been developed with Art and Design and literacy in mind. Some of the results of this work are exhibited in this newsletter (see overleaf).

Our website, the use of Flickr, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter platforms and our Wikipedia entry, have proved to be a major element in the TDP's success story. Changes to the TDP website content and structure will give easier access to data and resources, and introduce visitors to the materials that can be used to explore the rich and varied cultural and environmental heritage of the River Thames and its foreshore. It will include examples of the sources available in museums, libraries, archives, and on the web, and will encourage people to explore the evidence to be found in the riverside streets and on the foreshore itself. This work will contribute to the long-term sustainability of TDP education and outreach outcomes, and encourage broader participation in the project in the future.

Ends 30th September 2011! Visit the Archaeology in Action Gallery at the Museum of London, to see the exhibition Lost and Found in the River Thames.


Phase 2: October 2011 and beyond
Although the HLF grant stops, all is not lost: a core team comprising Nathalie and Eliott will take up new contracts, as Community Archaeologist and Foreshore Field Officer, with MoLA (Museum of London Archaeology) in October 2011. Thus co-ordination, support and development of the FROG and their TDP work will continue from Mortimer Wheeler House in Eagle Wharf Road. The value for continuing our crucial monitoring and survey work needs no further justification: we are going to need all of the 300+ certificated, trained FROG members to keep pace with the on-going survey work, especially since we would like to increase the number of Key Sites we need to monitor from our current sample of twenty. Continuing to raise awareness of the our work in future years is also important: we are planning more publications, making even better use of our award-winning website, and working on at least two TV programmes for transmission in 2012: one will be a "Time Team Special", the other an episode of "Coast".

Given that the Thames is unlikely to stop washing our history away, don't put your wellies under the bed just yet; the HLF grant might have run dry, but our river hasn't: the foreshore still needs you!