The Archaeology Exchange
With the dissolution of the bustling industrial trade that was once present at the London Docks, their former life as London’s hubs of exchange is now only visible through the fragments they left behind. These fragments of London’s history tell a pivotal part of its story and it’s ascension to the world city that it is today, and it is its river – the catalyst and trade route for London’s Industrial past – that waits eagerly to reveal more parts of London’s story. It is therefore down to the Mudlarks – the amateur archaeologists that scout the Thames foreshore for exactly these fragments – to collect what the River reveals. However in 2016, the Port of London Authority introduced restrictions that now make it a requirement to have a permit to go Mudlarking, and have thus decreased the likelihood of a mudlark being born from an un-restricted evening stroll onto the foreshore.
To ensure that London’s trade chapter is enriched and not just disregarded, every effort must be made to collect and conserve these fragments at every scale – From the docks themselves, to the copper rivets of clinker-built boats washed up on the foreshore.
The project identifies the Millenium Mills site at Royal Victoria Dock in Newham, London as an archaeological landscape; awaiting excavation, and establishes MOLA; the body behind the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) as the commercial body to undertake the excavation. The study of a 1916 map of the site reveals its lost anatomy and influences the revival of lost footprints. Among the lost are 3 pontoon docks to the east, once used for ship repair, that have since been backfilled and this is where The Archaeology Exchange manifests itself both above and within.
The Archaeology Exchange brings together professional & amateur archaeology through the relocation of MOLA, an Amateur Archaeology Hub and a museum in a bid to promote amateur archaeology through the TDP; making it more easily accessible. The design conveys a desire to provide literal transparency into the world of professional and amateur archaeology.