(audio) Book Thoughts: Mudlarking (Lara Maiklem)

For my love of history and the River Thames

★★★★☆ 1/4 – CALSPIE 8.36

Title: Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames
Author/Narrator: Lara Maiklem
 Non-Fiction / History
First published: 2019
Edition: Audio book

For thousands of years human beings have been losing their possessions and dumping their rubbish in the River Thames, making it the longest and most varied archaeological site in the world. For those in the know, the muddy stretches provide a tangible link with the past, a connection to the natural world, and an oasis of calm in a chaotic city…


Sometimes you just need a very niche kind of non-fiction book. So niche that it’s almost cozy! Something that is someone’s hobby and you can feel their love for it with every word. This is that kind of book.

I listened to this on audio, but I will be buying a physical copy, because seeing this on my shelf will make me happy. It is just that kind of book.

I have always loved history and archeology and I do have a collector’s streak inside of me as well, which I tend to suppress. Or I channel it into books…. Hence I have too many of them. And records – I have quite a few of those as well (the vinyl kind). I do have a little box with shards of pottery, decorated shards of tile mostly. So, I do feel a kindred spirit in Lara, though I have never ‘mudlarked’. I have done a bit of beach combing, but that’s about it.

The other connection is that the author does most of her mudlarking on the Thames and I lived on the Thames in South West London near Teddington Lock (which is mentioned in the book) for five years and so I felt at home in her patch of history hunting. Although I have moved away, I still have a deep love for London.

Anyway, I listened to this very happily and I only wish it was longer and meatier on the history front, but I know that is not what this book is supposed to do. It just wets one’s appetite for it.

4.25 out of 5 stars


CALSPIE*: 8.36

  • Characters: 9
  • Ambience: 8
  • Language: 7.5
  • Story: 8.5
  • Pacing: 8
  • Interest: 9
  • Enjoyment: 8.5

*CALSPIE is designed for fiction, but I can roughly apply it to non-fiction books. I think of characters as subject. Ambience as the tone of the book. Story as the explanation. Pacing as the length and depth to which it goes into the subjects.


3 thoughts on “(audio) Book Thoughts: Mudlarking (Lara Maiklem)

  1. I really enjoyed this but I agree you need the physical book, as it has images of some of her finds. I lived in London for years and have been an archaeologist in my teens, so I enjoyed that side of it. I have a little flint scraper I found in Wiltshire (while practising for an ultramarathon, as you do!) and a few odd bits of stones from different places, too, and an ammonite. I did enjoy this one though I think I must have passed it on.

    Have you been watching Digging for Britain, which is on again at the moment? Such a good series: how did I only discover it last year?

    1. Yes, we found a couple of fossils when we were at the Jurassic Coast a few years back. I love finding little bits.
      I haven’t watched that program. I no longer live in the UK and don’t have BBC and iPlayer is restricted outside of the UK. 😖

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