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Lecture Report – 10 Shillings a Man

River Maintenance and the Archaeology of the Thames

Miles Clifford, a PhD student at the University of Reading, spoke to the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group on 2nd January about his research. His topic was river maintenance and the archaeology of the Thames and the title of his talk refers to a reward paid to workmen for reporting a find.

The Thames is a significant source of finds, especially weapons and tools, such as the spectacular Battersea Shield (pictured, credit Paul Hudson), although many of these are unrecorded, especially minor ones. Miles is focusing on the Middle Thames (roughly between Goring and Teddington) and on material from the Bronze Age to the early Mediaeval period (roughly 2200BCE to 1100CE). Interest in the Thames as a source of archaeology took off among the gentleman archaeologists of the 19th century, especially Charles Roach Smith (1807-1890) and was stimulated by collectors of curiosities. Many of the items found are in public or private collections, but the find location is not always recorded.

A key objective of the current project is to work out where a particular find was originally deposited (or lost) to identify areas of activity along the river. This is not always the place where the object was found, as river maintenance (such as dredging) may have led to its relocation. To understand this, Miles is conducting volunteer-led research in archives, historical map analysis and environmental reconstruction. This is where you can come in – if you would like to help, Miles would be delighted to hear from you by email on m.clifford@pgr.reading.ac.uk.