Weapons of mass distraction – Part 1

Royal Armouries, Tower of London: Foreshore Finds Volunteer

In all honesty, I ought to be at work. But I’m not  😀

As a knock-on from taking part in VIP volunteering projects at the Museum of London’s archaeological archive, known as LAARC, I now get asked to take part in other volunteering projects; sometimes outreach, sometimes archiving. These are often discrete, time limited projects, which are ideal for me as long-term volunteering is not possible for me at the moment (I work full time 😦 ).


I was recently contacted about a project which I leapt at the chance to take part in, because it brings together aspects of the archiving work that I carried out at the LAARC as part of VIP09, and the foreshore recording work that I do as part of the Thames Discovery Programme. It’s also taking place at the Tower of London and, really, what could be cooler than that?

In 1986, the Royal Armouries, based primarily in Leeds but with a long-standing and continuing presence at the Tower of London, commissioned an archaeological dig on the Tower foreshore in order to try to find evidence of the Board of Ordnance’s workshops, which were sited on the embankment above. Finds’ dates range from the 15th to the 19th centuries. For those interested in following this up, the site code is TLF86.


(this image is a photo of a photocopy of a photo, so it’s a bit dodgy. Hopefully we should be able to get some clearer images later on). This photo, and others of the excavation, are courtesy of the Royal Armouries.

As a member of a small team of volunteers, I’ll be upgrading the archiving standards, photographing and cataloguing the finds from this dig. A longer term aim for the Armouries, is to improve access to the archive by establishing a new database for this material, so we’ll be preparing the material for that as well as gathering the relevant input data.  In the team are Alan, Chris, and Guy (and me). Here’s the team, together with Glynn from the LAARC and Kathleen from the Royal  Armouries.


Today we were at the LAARC getting some background on the project and the original dig, having a look at the paper records and having a general catch up. Next week we’ll be at the Tower and I’ll be blogging about the project over the next few weeks. I’ll try to post pictures of some of the best, most unusual and most revealing finds.

If anyone has any questions about the original dig or about this project, please do post them on here and I’ll try to answer them as we go along, or to find the best person to ask at the Armouries.


7 thoughts on “Weapons of mass distraction – Part 1

  1. Cheers M & H. Tidings of the morn suggest no pints at the Twicey for me. New adventures await but I think I am now part of the long past at Vindolanda.

    • Hi Tim,
      that’s a shame, but I do understand. Really.

      It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your back on Hadrian’s Wall though. There have been lots of other non-Vindolanda digs this year and, as far as I am aware, they are set to continue next year too.

      Altogether Archaeology does projects, but they don’t give much advance notice, so it might not work for you.
      There’s also WallQuest, which does excavations around the Newcastle end of the wall.
      On the western side, there’s Senhouse and also the Ravenglass excavations, which are due to run in September as well.
      Perhaps it’s just time to look around and dig somewhere else. Perhaps come back to Vindolanda another time.

  2. Pingback: Weapons of mass distraction: slight return | moose and hobbes

  3. Pingback: Weapons of mass distraction: ballistics, beaches and badges | moose and hobbes

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