In the Mud

2017 is proving to be an exciting year along the Mersea shore. In 2016, CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeology Network) visited the island and looked more deeply into some things we thought we already knew about. About the same time local oystermen were making interesting finds and it became clear that there had been a lot of erosion recently. It had taken about two feet off the mud along the shore - uncovering things that have not seen the light of day for hundreds or even thousands of years.

CITiZAN were very interested in the area around East Mersea Tudor Blockhouse Fort, where new rows of stakes had appeared in the mud. They have since been dated by CITiZAN as between 1461 and 1636 AD and probably in use at the same time as the fort. As they note, the Blockhouse Fort earthworks have been steadily eroding and may go completely in the not too distant future.

Mersea oysterman Daniel French was dredging off Coopers Beach, East Mersea and made some exciting finds in the mud. A skull proved to be Iron Age, dating 290 to 350 BC. Wooden planks also found there seemed to form a board walk across the mud. They were recovered and have now been dated to Late Bronze Age. They are being preserved by Historic England and will then come to Mersea Museum for display.

CITiZAN joined Daniel French and several other Mersea people on the mud for a weekend of low tides at the end of March 2017. The most significant find was a 6ft Mammoth Tusk - it was too big to recover, and was buried again after close examination.

The finds have caused a lot of interest in Mersea and in a much wider community. CITiZAN put on two well-attended talks in Mersea School in July to described the activities. Mersea Museum are now working on the display of the planks from the board walk The plan is to show them in a chamber under the floor with a glass top and lighting. The Museum is raising money to fund this.

A reconstruction of the Iron Age skull - from BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries February 2017

Daniel French on Anglia News

Timbers found in mud at East Mersea

Timbers of the boardwalk awaiting rescue. Photo from CITiZAN

The CITiZAN team gently lifting timber 2. Photo from CITiZAN

Washing timber 4 before sending off for dating and preservation - photo from CITiZAN

Wrapping timber 3 before being sent off for analysis. Photo from CITiZAN.

The stakes that have appeared to the east of the Blockhouse Fort at East Mersea - photo from CITiZAN

Stakes in mud near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort Nov 2017

A well defined path is now visible, out to the other stakes. Photograph taken 28 November 2017 by Robin Webster.

Mammoth Tusk left to rest in mud at East Mersea

The Mammoth Tusk - left to rest in the mud.

To find out more

CITiZAN Cudmore Grove

Donating to Mersea Museum

Author: Tony Millatt

Related Images

 Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
 Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.
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Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age.
They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
 
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.
</p><p>
Photograph from CITiZAN.  CZN_001CZN_001
Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.

Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age. They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.

Photograph from CITiZAN.
30 March 2017

 A structure that has appeared from the mud to the east of the Blockhouse Fort near East Mersea Stone. The stakes have since been dated by CITiZAN as between 1461 and 1636 AD and probably in use at the same time as the fort.
Was it a wharf, or perhaps part of a fish weir ?
 View looking north to northwest with the Blockhouse Fort earthworks just visible upper left.  CZN_021CZN_021
A structure that has appeared from the mud to the east of the Blockhouse Fort near East Mersea Stone. The stakes have since been dated by CITiZAN as between 1461 and 1636 AD and probably in use at the same time as the fort. Was it a wharf, or perhaps part of a fish weir ?
View looking north to northwest with the Blockhouse Fort earthworks just visible upper left.
15 August 2016
 Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_011CZN_TBR_011
Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach.
19 January 2017
 Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_017CZN_TBR_017
Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.
19 January 2017
 Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Team gently lifting timber 2.  CZN_TBR_021CZN_TBR_021
Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Team gently lifting timber 2.
c19 January 2017
 Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_027CZN_TBR_027
Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.
19 January 2017
 Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Jane cleaning timber 4 at Museum of London Archaeology.  CZN_TBR_031CZN_TBR_031
Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Jane cleaning timber 4 at Museum of London Archaeology.
31 March 2017
 Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Wrapping timber 3 at Museum of London Archaeology. Scale drawings were done and then they were sent to Portsmouth for preservation. They will return to Mersea for display in the Museum.
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L-R Molly Dixon, Mark Dixon, Jane Dixon, Lawrence Northall, Oliver Hutchinson.  CZN_TBR_041CZN_TBR_041
Boardwalk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Wrapping timber 3 at Museum of London Archaeology. Scale drawings were done and then they were sent to Portsmouth for preservation. They will return to Mersea for display in the Museum.

L-R Molly Dixon, Mark Dixon, Jane Dixon, Lawrence Northall, Oliver Hutchinson.
31 March 2017

 Pathway and stakes below the beach near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort. The stakes have been appearing over the past 2 years as the mud has eroded. It is not yet clear what they were for - they are currently (Dec 2017) being dated by the CITiZAN group.
</p><p>Location of photograph is TM0725915248.  IA01_691IA01_691
Pathway and stakes below the beach near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort. The stakes have been appearing over the past 2 years as the mud has eroded. It is not yet clear what they were for - they are currently (Dec 2017) being dated by the CITiZAN group.

Location of photograph is TM0725915248.
28 November 2017

 BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries on 15 Feb 2017 featured the Citizan project and recent finds on the mud off Mersea Island. This screenshot shows a skull, found by local oysterman Daniel French when out dredging. It is an Iron Age skull, dated to 290 to 350 BC.
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<p>Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see <a href=http://www.citizan.org.uk target=cit>www.citizan.org.uk</a>.
</p>  VV010611_003VV010611_003
BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries on 15 Feb 2017 featured the Citizan project and recent finds on the mud off Mersea Island. This screenshot shows a skull, found by local oysterman Daniel French when out dredging. It is an Iron Age skull, dated to 290 to 350 BC.

Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see www.citizan.org.uk.


15 February 2017
 A screenshot from Anglia News 15 Feb 2017 showing planks discovered by local oysterman Daniel French in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea.  VV010612_001VV010612_001
A screenshot from Anglia News 15 Feb 2017 showing planks discovered by local oysterman Daniel French in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea.
15 February 2017
 Mersea oysterman Daniel French speaking on Anglia TV News, 15 February 2017. Daniel found timbers in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea. They are believed to be part of a Bronze Age walkway across the marshes. A little while earlier, Daniel found a skull that has been dated to the Iron Age 290 - 350 BC. 
</p><p>
Daniel has been working with members of the Citizan Project to rescue and preserve these important finds. Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see <a href=http://www.citizan.org.uk target=cit>www.citizan.org.uk</a>.
</p>
</p>
</notonweb>
<p>The timbers from the boardwalk are going through a preservation process and when complete, it is planned to have them on display in Mersea Museum, under a glass panel in the Museum floor.
</p>  VV010612_003VV010612_003
Mersea oysterman Daniel French speaking on Anglia TV News, 15 February 2017. Daniel found timbers in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea. They are believed to be part of a Bronze Age walkway across the marshes. A little while earlier, Daniel found a skull that has been dated to the Iron Age 290 - 350 BC.

Daniel has been working with members of the Citizan Project to rescue and preserve these important finds. Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see www.citizan.org.uk.

The timbers from the boardwalk are going through a preservation process and when complete, it is planned to have them on display in Mersea Museum, under a glass panel in the Museum floor.


15 February 2017
ID: TXA03380


This item is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection. The contents must not be published without the permission of the Museum. The information is accurate as far as is known, but the Museum does not accept responsibility for errors.


Copyright Mersea Island Museum Trust 2017