‘For they were young, and the Thames was old,
And this is the tale that the river told.’ Rudyard Kipling
The current exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands, Secret Rivers, is about the various rivers which once flowed openly into the Thames but which nowadays are largely hidden from view. The visitor follows the stories of, in particular, the Fleet, the Walbrook and the Westbourne, all now channelled underground.
We begin in the Bronze Age; metal-working is well established and people have settled down in tribes. This is a time when rivers are thought to be mysterious places which marked the transition between two elements, land and water, and, perhaps, between life and death. We can see this in the offerings found in the Thames, particularly near where the Walbrook flowed into the Thames.
This human skull, 1260-900 BC is one of the oldest objects found in the Thames and it is thought, from its condition, to have been put there deliberately