History's blog

The life of a Mudlark is always fun but it takes real skill and determination to master the art of scanning for relics on the banks of London’s River Thames.

No-one knows this better than Steve Brooker, the Mud God himself. With his keen eyes and a passion for this unique brand of archaeology, Steve has spent years uncovering the most amazing and unlikely Thames treasures.

In a new HISTORY™ series, Steve shares the secrets of his trade with presenter Johnny Vaughan on Mud Men. For now, let’s have a sneak peak at some of his greatest finds from the series.

Armed only with a trowel and working against the rising tide, Johnny and Steve must act quickly.

Patience is a virtue, however, especially when the prize can be smaller than a button. The challenge is worth it, as tiny finds reap huge personal rewards. A proud moment for the Mud Men was Johnny’s discovery of a farthing minted in the 1700s under the reign of James II.

Almost invisible under the dirt, the tiny and delicate coin is a rare and valuable find and usually requires the eagle-eyes of a seasoned mudlark to spot. Even the notoriously difficult-to-impress Mud God had to admit that it wasn’t bad for his first week on the job!

Venturing further upriver, our intrepid Mud Men find traces of England’s violent past. Ammo shells, discarded weapons and tools of war still litter the banks, serving as powerful reminders of battles fought centuries ago. It’s thanks to unique and gruesome discoveries such as ancient manacles (minus the leg!) that earned Steve his reputation as London’s greatest mudlark. He’s also tempted fate on more than one occasion by digging up unexploded cannon balls. One slip of the shovel around these 100lb balls of iron and gunpowder and it’s all over…

Once in a while, the Mud Men come across something truly remarkable. What first appeared to be a battered old pipe turned out to be a link to living history for Johnny. Dropped into the water in the early 20th century, the pipe bore the familiar crest of the Enniskillen Fusiliers – the same regiment in which Johnny’s father-in-law had bravely served many years ago.

For the Mud Men, every day is a new challenge filled with excitement, danger and the chance to bring history to life through their amazing finds. The job may be dirty but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Join Johnny and Steve on Mud Men every Monday night at 9:30pm, exclusive to HISTORY™.

What would you say to a stranger who turned up on your doorstep and said you were rich?  

This happens to people every day all across the country as the Heir Hunters close the lid on countless cases. Join HISTORY™ throughout January as they follow a crack team of probate detectives dedicated to tracking down the long lost relatives of the recently deceased. It’s the Heir Hunters who work tirelessly to ensure people get the money they deserve – often in life-changing amounts. 

Experience the triumphs and challenges as they race against the clock, Heir Hunters follows the detectives responsible for making sure the rightful heir is found and ensure a thorough search is carried out whenever someone dies without leaving a will. If no known relatives step forward, the Heir Hunters must hurry to trace anyone with a claim to the cash before time runs out. Failure means the money goes to Her Majesty’s Treasury and families lose out on potential millions every year. 

Are they searching for you? 

With UK properties and estates remaining unclaimed for years, every episode of Heir Hunters will also spotlight cases that have nearly run out of time. Tune in to HISTORY™ in the New Year and you may be able to help or even claim an inheritance you never knew was yours. 

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