Find out more about our FROG (Foreshore Recording and Observation Group) volunteers in our latest volunteer profile from Sheila Hunt, for Volunteers’ Week 2021

Sheila cleaning a cruciform baseplate feature at Greenwich

I did my FROG training just over 5 years ago. A friend and I found one of the foreshore walks online. We did the walk, enjoyed it and heard about the FROG work. Just up our street – history, physical activity, out in the open air, along the riverside and a new adventure. We were looking for new interests as we had recently retired and this seemed just the thing. So it has proved!

Through our FROG activities I have met new people, found another purpose in my retirement, got some exercise and enjoyed being on the foreshore of the River Thames in a variety of locations. I have developed an interest in archaeology that has spread into other areas of my life. The activities and learning have enriched my life massively. I have been on the foreshore in hail at Greenwich and been boiling on other days but there is always something of interest going on and new things to discover and learn. It’s also good to know that I am contributing to ‘proper’ archaeology, uncovering and recording evidence that might otherwise be washed away.


The thing is that discovering or working on an artefact or structure sends you off into learning about a whole new area of history and research. For example, when we found loads of Tudor dress making pins on the steps at Greenwich, we not only enjoyed the discovery but went on to find out about how they were made by children; who eventually invented machinery to make the pins, how pin cushions were part of a bride’s trousseau and just how many of the pins were needed to hold one of those Tudor dresses together! Byron himself complained of all the pins that needed taking out when he was seducing a lady! Chalk beds, revetments, jetties, ship building, ship-breaking – it’s all fascinating. I don’t have a favourite site. I love it all.

My favourite personal finds are a musket ball, a clay pipe bowl with the Prince of Wales feathers on and a bone spoon that remains a mystery. But perhaps best of all was scrubbing down a post that was part of an old jetty and finding that it was actually a huge whale jawbone that had been repurposed. The jawbone features in a mudlark book and I love seeing it each time we go back to that part of the foreshore.

I have used my clay pipe finds to make 3 pictures that are on my walls. I hang clay pipes and gold-sprayed metal finds from Rotherhithe on my Christmas tree. I even have a clay pipe bowl on the end of my bathroom light switch cord!

I found other ways to volunteer during lockdown. I deliver to a Food Bank and have become a telephone befriender to some very isolated people. I missed the foreshore work tremendously and am so pleased to get back. I can’t decide which would be best – finding a pilgrim badge or a stone-age axe! But I don’t really mind. Something interesting always turns up.