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Thames Water Collection

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Bronze Age spearhead from the River Thames near Bray

The Thames Water Collection contains objects from the non-tidal Thames and its tributaries. There are about 600 items in the collection, which were found during dredging and other work on the rivers between 1911 and 1980. All periods during the last 10,000 years are represented, from Mesolithic flints to ginger beer bottles. Many objects were accidentally lost, but some were deliberately thrown into the River Thames. The spectacular Bronze Age, Iron Age and Early Medieval swords might represent offerings to the river, but they certainly indicate hierarchical societies with wealthy leaders.

These objects are in Reading Museum because of an historic agreement with the Thames Conservancy Board in 1932, negotiated by Henry Wallis, then Honorary Curator of Zoology at the Museum. It was agreed that all archaeological items discovered during the Board's operations on the rivers would be deposited on loan in the Museum. In 1996 Thames Water, which then owned the collection, gave it to the Museum. The collection, previously known as the Thames Conservancy Board Collection, was renamed the Thames Water Collection in acknowledgement of this generous donation.

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