Today was our first day in the Tower. After completing the necessary formalities we were able to get a first look at the archive. Our home from home for the next few weeks is known as the Cowshed, but goodness knows why. It doesn’t look like like a cowshed.
We made a start on the general finds but the first box we opened contained a number of artifacts that needed to be reassigned as registered finds. This was not due to any deficiency on the part of whoever prepared this archive in the past, but because the nature of what we’re interested in has changed. Here’s an example.
Clay pipes. These will be familiar to just about everyone who has ever been near the foreshore or a hole in the ground in the UK. A number of bags of these were bagged and labelled as general finds, but as Alan went through, a number of them had makers marks and other identifying writing on the, which would now warrant a registered find number, so much of his time during this session was spent examining the contents of a number of bags and preparing new labels and the accompanying data sheets (this is the information for the new database).
Working though glass and pottery, me and Guy has a fairly typical range of types for the London foreshore, but there were a few nice crisp sherds of post-medieval stonewares.
So we pretty well finished the general finds and opened up a box that seemed to be a bit random. A whole load of empty, labelled bags, record cards and a few artifacts, a couple of which just have to go into the mystery finds gallery (below). This key ring looks like a souvenir piece purporting to be for the master key that opens and closes Tower Bridge.
Guy particularly liked the very clear instructions: “HALT TRAFFIC BEFORE OPENING BRIDGE”. Wise words.
The Mystery Finds Gallery – if you recognize these, please give us a clue.
This one is approx 4-5cm across and quite heavy for its size. Is it some sort of weight? Answers on a postcard please.
This one is a piece of flint held in a piece of folded metal. The holder has a sort of rough sunray pattern on one side. Is it for scoring/marking timber? For striking lights? If you know, do tell.
As if all this wasn’t enough excitement, Guy spotted an updateimportant visitor outside having lunch.
A bit of random browsing on the internet came up with this view of the striking mechanism of a flintlock pistol.
Zoom in on the flint bit and it looks a bit like the object above.
The flint is a different shape, so I guess it had passed the end of its useful life.