A mudman says he has been told a “rare” Roman cup he has almost finished has been found on the banks of the River Thames.
Malcom Russell, 49, from London pulled the artefact from the mud when he went out last week, during some of the lowest tides of the year.
He said Museum of London archaeologists believed the object could date back to the 2nd Century AD.
Mr Russell said it was “high” on his “dream find list”, and his Twitter post about the discovery had gone viral.
It was popular with the Victorians to go down to the banks of the Thames at low tide and search for interesting historical objects.
Mr Russell, who is from Walthamstow in east London and has been on the mud for seven years, says he was “excited about what could happen” because “when the tide is too low it’s obvious that exposure more of the river bed and you have more chances. finding things”.
Despite this, he said after a few hours he still hadn’t found anything – until he saw “a dark patch under about half a meter of water”.
“Usually you only find fragments of Roman pottery, little bits and pieces,” he said, “but I started going down in the water and I pulled on the handle of this piece of pottery and it kept going – and there. that suddenly in my hands I had a mostly complete Roman vessel.”
He continued: “I was so surprised and excited at the time that I almost dumped all the mud and sand out of it, but I was reminded by a friend who said you shouldn’t because of the Museum of London. X-ray likes to fill pots to see if there is any raw material in them.”
‘1,800 years old’
He said he had only seen a few things this big in the last seven or eight years.
“When you think it’s broken over time or it gets in the river and it’s gone, it’s a miracle that something whole could survive,” he said.
Thames gets significant:
He explained that although one of his arms was missing from the vessel, he had contacted the Museum of London to see if they were interested in examining it.
He says archaeologists told him it appeared to be a “rare find”, and although no original material was found in the cup, it was probably more than 1,800 years old.
He said: “They have found that it is a contemporary copy most likely inspired by a much more expensive type of vessel made along the Rhine in the 2nd Century AD. So it is like a bargain basement version of a vessel that was made. then.
“The museum said they have not identified another example ever found in this state from the mud in London,” he said.
Mr Russell said experts believed there was a “certainly very good chance it was used for wine or some other liquid”.
Discussing what inspired him to take up skating, he said: “Everything I find is little portals into the past, and what it complements is very evocative, it puts your mind to what to which it was used, which were the last hands to touch. before it ended up here, why was it thrown away, it really is very rich fodder for the imagination.
“It’s adding to our knowledge of London’s history. It definitely makes me excited, you don’t just get this stuff for yourself, you get it so everyone can learn from it.”
It is not clear whether the museum intends to keep the artefact once its provenance is confirmed, but Mr Russell said he would happily donate it to their collection.
The Port of London Authority says that anyone wanting to search for Thames mud needs a valid permit.
A spokesman for The Museum of London said: “The object has been handed over to the Museum’s Finds Officer.
“We can’t comment on it at this point until some initial research and analysis has been done.”
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