In January when Nat asked if anyone was available to help lift human remains from the foreshore on the Isle of Dogs, I was eager to volunteer.

When I first arrived at the access point to the foreshore (shockingly!) it was cold and overcast. Nathalie introduced me to Osteologist Don Walker and Mudlarker Nick Stevens.

After a walk over the rough terrain to the site where the bones had been located the day before, we waited for the tide to go out, trying our best to stay warm. As soon as the water had receded far enough, we located the marker to the grave and began moving in for the grab.


The first bones we spotted were from the spinal column so we quickly, and as gently as possible, lifted them from the cold mud and bagged them. The spinal column led us to the rest of the bones and we were able to get almost a complete skeleton in less than an hour. The relatively solid condition of the bones was surprising. It was very exciting for a novice like me!

Besides actually taking part in this exciting event, to me, the questions raised are the most interesting element of the day. Who was this person? How did (s)he come to rest in such a cold and lonely grave? How did she die? How long had her bones been here? What was on this part of the Thames when she was buried? Finding the answers to my questions will be almost as moving as helping to lift the bones.