Monday 15 June 2009

Low tide in Greenwich

Yesterday, I saw Greenwich from a new angle - literally - with a guided walk along the Thames foreshore. In happy contrast to the muddier event at Custom House a few weeks ago, the 'beach' was silt-free!

Henry VIII's palace, Placentia, has left its traces on the edges of the Thames - there are even water-worn pieces of Tudor brick. More humble inhabitants have also left clues to their lives including pieces of clay pipe, pottery and glass. The area's industry, too, has altered the riverscape with barge beds, anchors, and 'rubbing posts' which protected moored ships and the river walls from overly-close contact as the boats moved with the tide.

Structures such as the river walls tell us about the Thames itself, too. Walls are raised as high tide level rises, for example. They are also rebuilt from time to time: this particular stretch shows four different periods of building. The algae-free white strip at the bottom indicates recent erosion of the foreshore.

However, I did remember to look outwards from time to time, and enjoy the views as far as Deptford.

The walk was one of a numer of events organised by the Thames Discovery Programme. Find out about future activities, as well as the archaeology of the foreshore, on their website.


Viola said...

I love to visit Greenwich but the actual suburb seemed a bit rough and crowded last time we were there. However, the history is wonderful!

You're so lucky to live in England which has so much history.

Peter Ashley said...

Loved this Caroline. Particularly the anchor. Or is it? Could it also be a steam-rollered sludge-covered cartoon character? I love wandering about the Thames at low water, picking up those tide-washed little pieces of orange brick that could quite possibly be bits from a seventeenth century house. Or so I like to think.

CarolineLD said...

Oh, I can see it as a cartoon character now! Perhaps in a historically accurate-ish but gruesome pirate cartoon where it's left to be washed by three high tides.

I learned on the walk that many of those bits of orange brick are indeed Tudor and onwards - who knows, the ones at Greenwich may even come from the Palace of Placentia itself.

Anonymous said...

You can often find large animal bones too - a few years back, my niece and I found an almost complete skull of a horse. And it's a good idea to keep a wary eye out for the waves thrown up by the speeding boats.

CarolineLD said...

Ooh, I've seen various bones but not a skull yet! And you're absolutely right, it's a good idea to look out for the Thames Clippers in particular.