ID TXA03380 Article from Mersea Museum / Tony Millatt

TitleIn the Mud
Abstract2017 was 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 Natural History Museum took samples, and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.

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. A hole in the floor was excavated December 2017 and boarded over while it dries out. It will have a glass top and lighting. The process of raising money to fund this is proceeding, with donations of over £800 from the public, £1,000 from the Strood Charity, and the promise of significant funds from local District Councillors and Essex Heritage.

We do not know when we will get the boards from Historic England so cannot plan an unveiling ceremony. July 2018 - the first timber is in the preservation tank, but the freeze drying process takes some time and so the timbers will not be available in time for the 2018 and 2019 Summer Seasons.

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. Some are over 1 metre high. 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. Thought to be 12,000 years old.

  

Excavation of hole in Museum floor to display board walk timbers.

December 2017 the hole was excavated in the Museum floor to display the board walk timbers.

Boardwalk timber ready for preservation tank

July 2018 the first timber ready to go into the preservation tank.

  

First timber in the preservation tank

July 2018 the first timber ready in the preservation tank. It will be there for a few months.

To find out more

CITiZAN Cudmore Grove

View 3D models of structures found at Mersea

AuthorTony Millatt
SourceMersea Museum
IDTXA03380
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.
</p><p>
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_001
ImageID:   CZN_001
Title: 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.

Date:30 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 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.
</p><p>
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>The Natural History Museum took samples from the tusk and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.
</p>  CZN_007
ImageID:   CZN_007
Title: 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.

The Natural History Museum took samples from the tusk and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.

Date:31 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 A structure that has appeared from the mud to the east of the Blockhouse Fort near East Mersea Stone. The stakes are substantial - some are a metre high. They 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_021
ImageID:   CZN_021
Title: A structure that has appeared from the mud to the east of the Blockhouse Fort near East Mersea Stone. The stakes are substantial - some are a metre high. They 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.
Date:15 August 2016
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_011
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_011
Title: Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach.
Date:19 January 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_017
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_017
Title: Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.
Date:19 January 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / Jane Dixon
 Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Team gently lifting timber 2.  CZN_TBR_021
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_021
Title: Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Team gently lifting timber 2.
Date:c19 January 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.  CZN_TBR_027
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_027
Title: Recovering the board walk found in the mud off Coopers Beach.
Date:19 January 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Jane cleaning timber 4 at Museum of London Archaeology.  CZN_TBR_031
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_031
Title: Board walk timbers found off Coopers Beach. Jane cleaning timber 4 at Museum of London Archaeology.
Date:31 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Board walk 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.
</p><p>
L-R Molly Dixon, Mark Dixon, Jane Dixon, Lawrence Northall, Oliver Hutchinson.  CZN_TBR_041
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_041
Title: Board walk 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.

Date:31 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Excavation in Museum main hall to display board walk timbers. Ark Homes are working in their polythene tent within the Museum - Rod on the left and Andrew Knott on the right.  DC10_MUS_005
ImageID:   DC10_MUS_005
Title: Excavation in Museum main hall to display board walk timbers. Ark Homes are working in their polythene tent within the Museum - Rod on the left and Andrew Knott on the right.
Date:11 December 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 Excavation in Museum main hall to display board walk timbers.  DC10_MUS_017
ImageID:   DC10_MUS_017
Title: Excavation in Museum main hall to display board walk timbers.
Date:15 December 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 Excavation of the pit in the Museum main hall to display board walk timbers.  DC10_MUS_019
ImageID:   DC10_MUS_019
Title: Excavation of the pit in the Museum main hall to display board walk timbers.
Date:19 December 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 The timbers found in the mud off Mersea waiting to go into the preservation tank.  DC10_MUS_031
ImageID:   DC10_MUS_031
Title: The timbers found in the mud off Mersea waiting to go into the preservation tank.
Date:July 2018
Source:Mersea Museum / Dorothy Brown Collection
 Timbers found in the mud off Mersea in 2017, now in the preservation tank.  DC10_MUS_033
ImageID:   DC10_MUS_033
Title: Timbers found in the mud off Mersea in 2017, now in the preservation tank.
Date:July 2018
Source:Mersea Museum
 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 have been dated by CITiZAN between 1461 and 1636 AD which suggests they were in use the same time as the Blockhouse Fort.
</p><p>Grid Location of photograph is TM0725915248.  IA01_691
ImageID:   IA01_691
Title: 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 have been dated by CITiZAN between 1461 and 1636 AD which suggests they were in use the same time as the Blockhouse Fort.

Grid Location of photograph is TM0725915248.

Date:28 November 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / Robin Webster
 Aerial survey of the area around the fort at East Mersea.
The red arrows on the shore point to rows of stakes - origin not yet known. Fish traps or fish weirs ?
 Copyright James Pullen  JPL_001
ImageID:   JPL_001
Title: Aerial survey of the area around the fort at East Mersea. The red arrows on the shore point to rows of stakes - origin not yet known. Fish traps or fish weirs ?
Copyright James Pullen
Date:2014
Source:Mersea Museum / James Pullen
 Survey map of area around the fort at East Mersea. 
 Copyright James Pullen  JPL_003
ImageID:   JPL_003
Title: Survey map of area around the fort at East Mersea.
Copyright James Pullen
Date:2014
Source:Mersea Museum / James Pullen
 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.
</p>
<p>The screenshot is from a 3D model built of the skull - available online at <a href=https://sketchfab.com/search?q=mersea target=SKF>View 3D models of structures found at Mersea</a>
</p>
</notonweb>
<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_003
ImageID:   VV010611_003
Title: 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.

The screenshot is from a 3D model built of the skull - available online at View 3D models of structures found at Mersea

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

Date:15 February 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 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_001
ImageID:   VV010612_001
Title: A screenshot from Anglia News 15 Feb 2017 showing planks discovered by local oysterman Daniel French in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea.
Date:15 February 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 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 board walk 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_003
ImageID:   VV010612_003
Title: 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 board walk 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.

Date:15 February 2017
Source:Mersea Museum